Multifamily Tech Hits Fever Pitch

A revealing survey by consulting firm D2 Demand Solutions gets answers from multifamily executives across the country about the major issues facing the industry.
Dom Beveridge, Principal, D2 Demand Solutions. Image courtesy of D2 Demand Solutions

A survey of executives at some of the top multifamily firms and REITs in the country revealed a snapshot of the current tech landscape in the industry—from the wave of new tech hitting the market to a need for renewed focus on sales training.

The report, “20 for ‘20,” is based on questions posed to 20 executives from major multifamily firms in the U.S. about the outlook for 2020 and beyond. Colorado-based consulting firm D2 Demand Solutions conducted the survey, the first of its kind by the company, at a recent real estate tech conference.

The biggest takeaway? The confirmation that multifamily technology has hit a high note, not unlike the time period in the late 1990s to early 2000s when a rash of new tech came to the market all at the same time.

“It was when web-based services, screenings, resident portals came out—all these things that are now ubiquitous in the industry were brand new then,” D2 Demand Solutions Principal Dom Beveridge told Multi-Housing News.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they anticipate spending more money on technology in 2019. While many innovations in technology within the multifamily sector have happened incrementally, the current market is poised for another period of “radical” innovation, whether its in smart homes, A.I., short-term rental platforms or virtual tours.

“They’re all sort of popping up at the same time,” said Beveridge.

INDUSTRY CHALLENGES

Another interesting finding from the survey was that many companies reported doing a big, foundational project in 2018, in a move that Beveridge believes would help to fund future endeavors, particularly when a downturn occurs.

“The fact that so many of them were in our sample was interesting to us,” he said.

Not surprisingly, respondents reported that attracting and retaining talent was “extremely challenging” in 2018, a common refrain across many industries, led by continued job growth in the U.S. When asked what measures companies took to contend in the competitive talent market, popular responses included focusing more on employee sentiment and adapting to millennial needs.

In the same vein, many multifamily executives reported that they plan to focus more on sales training and development.

“This was not surprising given that we’ve had so many years of growth,” said Beveridge. “In years of plenty, maybe people don’t sharpen their sales skills as much.”

As new and innovative tech for the industry continues to crop up, one area that could benefit is pricing and revenue management. The D2 report noted that the firm was surprised by how long it took multifamily executives to respond to questions about PRM.

“No one really had a predefined or preconceived idea of what the next big thing was in revenue management,” said Beveridge. “In multifamily, there’s a prevailing attitude of revenue management doing fine. That’s a real concern. There’s real complacency.”