In an effort to help property owners and managers drive business and optimize operations in the year ahead, we’re unveiling our top predictions in a three-part series about what’s ahead for the rental industry in 2019 starting with an analysis of artificial intelligence and its role in the multifamily industry.
AI was one of the most popular digital marketing buzzwords of 2018. If you are a skeptic and think AI is merely a buzzword, however, you and your properties will be missing out. Google CEO Sundar Picha, said earlier this year: “AI is one of the most important things humanity is working on. It is more profound than, I dunno, electricity or fire.”
Yes, that’s a bold statement, but not far off when you think about the advances in technology with AI as its foundation, including: self-driving cars, AI that sounds like a human and insurance products sold 100 percent using AI.
While Al has a way to go before we see human-like robots walking around taking all of our jobs, it is in the early stages of transforming many roles and day-to-day functions in our industry. In 2019, we will see the majority of the top 100 owners begin utilizing AI for deal sourcing/underwriting, leasing or to assist property managers.
How is AI changing the apartment industry today?
AI for deal teams
AI is being used by acquisition teams to source and underwrite potential deals in addition to performing a lot of the underwriting. AI and machine learning models make it possible to digest vasts amounts of data points that will ultimately help you make investment decisions.
AI can help evaluate value-add renovation strategies by calculating market rents and identifying what improvements/amenities deliver the strongest ROI. In other words, it will tell you if it’s more valuable to spend money on a washer/dryer combo, fitness center, or property some other amenity.
AI can also be used to automate the financial modeling that analysts spend a significant amount of their time building and maintaining.
AI for leasing agents
Chatbots that live on property websites have been around for a few years, but they are quickly evolving and expanding their scope of capabilities. These chatbots have been able to answer prospect’s questions about availability, pricing, floor plans, pets and more.
Today, these leasing AIs automate engagement with prospective residents via various communication channels (text, email, Facebook messenger, etc.), can answer the super majority of a prospects questions, can manage showings and integrate with existing property management software CRM systems. In the near future, the AIs will start to manage inbound and outbound phone calls with prospects.
There is a strong argument that AI is simply a better and more reliable leasing agent. AIs work 24/7, religiously follow up, can deliver timely and accurate information to prospects, and are great for coordinating showings.
AI for property managers
Being a property manager is a tough job. The job consists of a combination of mundane tasks and putting out fires. There is very little time for strategic thinking or working on tasks that create value. Because of these challenges, there is quite a bit of turnover and the industry is struggling to attract and retain quality property managers.
If you think about all the things a property manager does on a daily basis, a large percentage can be performed by AI. Tasks such as managing insurance certificates, lease renewals, promoting property specific ancillary services, answering questions about the status of work orders, communicating with residents that are behind on rent, and collecting/ updating resident information can all be handled by an AI.
It will be a big year for AI … and a big year for interest rates. In next month’s post, we will examine the impact of rising interest rates and what that means for owners focusing more on optimizing the performance of their existing properties.
Adam Blake is the co-founder & CEO of Zego,a smart home amenity for multifamily properties. Prior to Zego, Adam was the founder of Brightergy.