The PropTech industry is a rapidly expanding space, within which new and exciting technology is regularly being introduced, to help improve and advance end-to-end real estate transactions.
Property management is no exception when it comes to innovation that is changing the way we do our jobs. In this Property Management series article, director, Elizabeth Sargood, looks at how technology and outsourcing are changing this niche field.
Last year, I read an interesting article about a real estate agency that was introducing robots at open homes in order to minimise costs, while still providing attendees with answers to their questions.
Now, this article wasn’t on some obscure website, hidden under pages and pages of Google results; it was front-page news for several of Australia’s leading real estate giants.
At the time, I recall reacting to the story the same way as many other agents no doubt reacted, “That’s ridiculous, people will never go for this!”
But since then, as the real estate industry has changed, even over the last 12 months, and property management has absolutely jumped on the band wagon, the reality is, robots could be the least surprising change in our industry in the near future.
What’s changing in property management?
Property management is now advancing more rapidly, as agencies look for ways to streamline their processes, improve productivity and reduce overheads.
The majority of these changes are aligned with how we are managing our work, the systems that support us, and how we are meeting human resource requirements.
Below are my top 6 advancements dominating property management right now, and a few I think will be prolific in coming years.
- Platform evolution
If you have been in property management for many years, like I have, you will know what it was like to use the most rudimentary of property management software systems, and how extraordinary today’s offering truly is.
Industry staples like Rockend’s REST and newer contenders, like Property Me, help you more easily manage everything from trust accounting, to planning inspections, scheduling reminders to tenants and providing updates to landlords in real-time.
Rather than being stored locally and only available in the office, these cloud-based platforms provide real mobility and convenience, by giving you access to the information you need while you are in the field.
- Automated communication
Automation is a key part of marketing and communication for big and small companies that have the skill set, software and manpower to facilitate it. But now, it’s not just restricted to large corporations.
New apps streamline the management of open homes and automate follow ups to attendees and applicants, removing one of the many tasks a property manager is responsible for each day.
Apps help decrease vacancy periods and increase applicant volumes so you can get a better result for your landlord.
- Maintenance management
Let’s be honest, managing maintenance can be one of the most time-consuming aspects of any property management role. Not anymore!
Gone are the days when we had to be on the phone chasing this plumber or that tenant. Now, with apps like Inspect Real Estate, maintenance requests can be submitted online (and onsite when the agent is performing an inspection), quotes can be auto-requested, landlords updated and the status of every job can be tracked at a glance on simple dashboards.
These apps are streamlining the processes interlinked with an inspection, allowing an agent to multi-task more easily and efficiently, and helping to ensure no maintenance issues are overlooked. They also provide a level of security for owners as they keep a log of all actions taken with regards to the repair and communication with the tradesman and tenant, so if you end up in NCAT, you have solid evidence of timelines and activity.
- Key management
If you have ever worked with a large rent roll, you’ll know managing keys can be the bane of your existence! Not surprisingly, new apps have also been introduced to help us on this front — not to mention new technology that can enable you to access, lock and unlock a home remotely!
Bar codes allow keys to be scanned in and out quickly and easily. Management systems enable you to monitor the location of keys, schedule a booking, automate reminders for return, receive alerts if keys aren’t checked back in and review recent searches to see who may have been looking for the missing keys last.
Ever-improving smart home technology will really propel our industry into the future. While not many homes incorporate these advances yet, in a few short years, access to more-and-more homes will be controlled remotely.
- Signing agreements remotely
At the forefront of electronic document signing, platforms like Docusign streamline the paperwork process by enabling tenants and landlords to sign documents from home, their phone or any location, without needing to come into the office!
The signing process and data associated with it has been carefully created to avoid fraudulent activity and enable absolute convenience.
- Outsourcing and virtual teams
While outsourcing has been an option for decades, over recent years it has rapidly grown in popularity in the real estate space due to its capacity to increase productivity and reduce overheads.
For some agencies, simply employing an in-country, remote admin team member or virtual assistant has allowed them to take on more managements and provide a better service.
Overseas outsourcing for tasks like invoicing, reminders and maintenance can also dramatically reduce business costs — you just need to carefully consider the company providing your virtual team and what, if any, engagement they might have with clients.
With international apps like PlaceToRent already using block chain technology to improve the rental experience for short-term tenants, the changes listed above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the future of property management.
Decentralised platforms might seem confusing, robots might sound unbelievable. As a property manager — especially one who wants to remain successful — staying ahead of all the many changes occurring around us and implementing those that will improve our service, will help us remain cutting-edge and relevant.