More and more households are choosing to rent instead of buy. Cities across the country are peppered with cranes and construction sites as developers loft-out old warehouses and build new residential high rises. Renters have more choices than ever, and increasingly, they prefer smart apartments to traditional living spaces.
As competition heats up, developers and property managers need to make sure they keep residents top of mind. In fact, developing a hospitality mindset is a crucial step for future-proofing smart apartments.
Some developers think installing a few smart devices is enough to keep residents happy. What they forget is that residents are already tech-savvy consumers. For instance, 23% of renters already own a voice assistant. Not surprisingly then, when asked which devices would compel them to choose an apartment, renters ranked voice assistants last.
What can developers do to build smart apartments that residents will love? Here are 4 design ideas to consider:
1. Help Residents Save Money and Energy
Renters are more cost-sensitive and eco-friendly than traditional homeowners. They will stay loyal to an apartment that helps them achieve both aims. One simple way to do this is to equip units with smart home devices that save residents money and energy.
A study of 300 renters found that smart thermostats and smart lights were the devices most likely to compel someone to rent a particular apartment unit. Both are great energy savers, with smart lights reducing energy costs by up to 90%.
Ideally, smart apartments will drive down the costs of rent altogether. When property owners save money on utilities, maintenance and staffing, they can pass those savings on to their residents. Smart apartments could be a major breakthrough in the affordable housing crisis we’re experiencing today.
2. Mobility as a Service
Buying a vehicle used to be a sign of middle-class luxury. Today, many people– especially in urban areas– see cars as a burden and money pit. What people really want is mobility without the cost of ownership.
One way to make residents fall in love with your property is to provide mobility as a service. Make it as easy as possible for residents to get where they need to go without high monthly expenses or hassle.
Some apartments are already offering mobility services on-site, like bike share programs and designated Uber pickup spots. Not only do these perks save residents money, they also promote a healthier, environmentally-friendly lifestyle.
But could smart apartments go even further? Thanks to the smart apartment platform, property developers can provide even more valuable mobility services for their residents.
What if, instead of just Uber pickup spots, apartments offered a fleet of cars for residents to borrow whenever they wanted? What if residents could even use those cars to work as an Uber driver, making extra cash without having to own a vehicle?
On-site car rental would solve many of the most pressing issues of city-living, especially congestion, parking shortages, and the high costs of car ownership. It could also be a brand new revenue channel for property owners as they take a small service fee for each car rental. It would be a win-win for residents and properties.
3. Give Residents a Remote Control for Their Lives
One reason why renters prefer smart apartments is the convenience and flexibility gained from smart amenities. The ultimate convenience is a mobile app where residents can manage their entire smart apartment from their smartphone.
Rent. Lights. Thermostat. Front door. Maintenance requests. Packages. All of this and more can be controlled inside the resident mobile app. It’s like a remote control for your life.
The best part about the resident app is that it can be easily updated over time. If you decide to add smart security systems to each unit, you can quickly onboard the new devices onto the smart apartment platform and give residents controls through the app.
4. Provide “Living as a Service”
We live in an “As a Service” economy, where consumers– especially Millennials– are choosing accessibility and convenience over ownership. In fact, a recent Economist study found that over 40% of companies are adding subscription-based pricing for their services. Smart apartments should do the same by offering as many on-demand services as possible.
On-demand marketplaces give residents access to home services like house cleaning, dry cleaning, dog walking and in-unit package delivery. Residents can request services as needed through the resident mobile app.
Much of our lives are already delivered on-demand: transportation, entertainment, groceries, and even living spaces. Smart apartments could be the missing piece that ties all of these amenities together, creating a true “Living as a Service” experience for residents.
With smart apartments as the platform, all of your needs could be delivered or accessed on-demand with just a push of a button. Once residents experience true Living as a Service, why would they go anywhere else?
How to Build a Better Smart Apartment
These are just a few ideas on how to build smart apartments residents will love. But even thermostats, bikes, mobile apps and on-demand services aren’t enough on their own. Smart apartments need infrastructure to tie it all together.
None of the ideas we discussed in this article would be possible without network infrastructure (ethernet, wifi, and Bluetooth) and a smart building software platform to tie it all together. That’s because combined, smart apartment technology is more valuable than the sum of its parts. On-demand services are much harder to deliver without smart locks, and a mobile app is all but useless if it’s not connected to the rest of the smart apartment technologies.
Infrastructure also prepares smart apartments for the future. New devices and services are easily added to or removed from the platform, making amenities modular instead of permanent. While we can’t predict the needs of future residents, we should stay flexible enough to serve them when those needs arise.
Finally, infrastructure gives us the most cost-savings. Building data from sensors and devices are aggregated and used to run the building more efficiently. This could easily save you thousands of dollars every year. Plus, smart amenities demand higher rents and open up incremental revenue channels like managed wifi as a service and on-site car rentals.
All said the smartest way to build a smart apartment is start with infrastructure, whether building new or renovating an old complex. It will save you money, time, and energy while giving your residents the living experience they really want.