The Midwest—The Hottest Market for Smart Communities

Smart home systems are a perfect differentiator for many developers and managers. With many new smart communities popping up across Midwestern cities, we’ve asked IOTAS CEO & Founder Sce Pike to discuss the attractiveness of smart projects in this region.

Sce Pike
Sce Pike

Adding IoT to the amenity package will not only make your community stand out among others, but it will also positively impact the property’s net operating income and value. As technology progresses, smart apartments are likely to be as common as fitness centers or swimming pools. The Midwest region seems to be ahead of many other areas when it comes to smart apartment adoption.

Multi-Housing News spoke with Sce Pike, founder & CEO of IOTAS, a company that provides integrated smart devices. We wanted to find out more about the growth of smart multifamily projects in the Midwestern region and why developers have focused their attention on this area. Apart from new smart communities coming up in Columbus, Ohio, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Dallas or Chicago, Omaha, Neb. has welcomed its first fully enabled smart community. Known as 1415@The Yard, the 101-unit community allows tenants to control most areas of the apartment through an app.

How is the Midwest attracting developers of smart communities?

Sce Pike: Rent growth in the Midwest market is currently experiencing a plateau. As a result, developers and property managers alike are looking for alternatives that generate revenue and retain tenants, while still being cost-conscious. One of the best approaches is to focus on technology, more specifically, smart technologies. For example, we’ve seen smart-enabled apartments lead to up to $45 monthly rent bumps in Class B properties for every $500-$600 investment. While implementing smart technologies within units may not be the first idea that comes to mind, it is ultimately a better investment than other amenities such as cocktail hours or fitness facilities.

Which metros in the Midwest are the most sought-after when it comes to smart homes development in 2018?

Pike: The Midwest has been championing the adoption of smart-enabled communities. We’ve seen a significant increase in demand for smart apartments with more than 180 different projects in the works alone. Some of the most sought-after Midwestern cities include Columbus, Ohio, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago, Oklahoma City and the first apartment community to adopt smart technology from the ground up in Omaha, Neb.

Interview quote MHN Sce PikeWhat are the most attractive features of a smart apartment in the Midwest and why?

Pike: Attractive smart apartment features are not specific to geographic region. However, we have seen residents across communities focus on some of the more practical uses of smart homes—remote temperature control, the ability to turn on and off lights regardless of location, automatic door locks as well as complete voice control. An added benefit of an IOTAS-enabled apartment is the addition of “stories.” Overtime, the system learns the habits of a resident. The resident can use these lessons to create “stories” that will allow for automation to fit their schedule. For example, you may have a “bedtime story” which will dim the lights, lower the volume on the TV and turn the thermostat to a lower temperature allowing for a more pleasant sleeping experience. The same could be created for when a resident returns home from work or will be traveling.

Where are the largest smart projects currently under construction in the Midwest located?

Pike: There are quite a few right now. New construction projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul lead the charge. Dallas/Fort Worth areas have quite a few properties going vertical now as well. Surprisingly, it’s the secondary and tertiary markets leading the charge, such as suburb communities outside of Columbus, Dallas, Cleveland, Austin, Oklahoma City and others.

Please tell us a few details about the first fully-enabled smart community in Omaha, Neb. 

Pike: 1415@The Yard is the first apartment community to adopt smart technology from the ground up. Upon move-in, residents are equipped with an Amazon Echo. With the help of smart outlets, lights, thermostats, sensors, locks, dimmers and more, a resident can use voice controls to do things such as adjust the temperature or turn on the living room light prior to entry. Additionally, residents can download an app which allows them to control these functions anywhere with a few clicks on their smartphone. These capabilities were wired during construction allowing all 101 units in the community to enjoy the smart apartment experience.

Images courtesy of IOTAS