Sophisticated real estate investors now demand and deserve more than email communications. Property management firms must embrace cutting-edge technologies in order to stand out from the competition and serve their clients.
Accounting and business intelligence: Remember the days when accounting and managers shared different records? Those days are gone. Any reputable property management firm must have a centralized database. We all feel on top of the world when we visit a hotel where the front desk staff greet us by first name and know our preferences. Imagine the same in property management, where, when someone calls, we immediately have which property, which unit and everything about it in front of us. It also provides insights into trends, expenses and how well the resources are utilized. That’s the power of business intelligence. Many property management firms have ditched hosting on site and turned to hosted services for their reliability and security. We now have the information at our fingertips.
User portals: WordPress has made user login possible, where strata owners can quickly view strata documents. Advanced technology is now taking user portals to the next level. Tenants and strata owners can update contact information, view real-time account statements, pay rent or strata fees directly on the portal and set up pre-authorized payments. A few companies have adopted the technology even further. Via the portal, you can view rent collections, vendor invoices and financial statements all in real time, just as if you were sitting in your property manager’s office.
Tools for managers and maintenance: Property managers are also equipped with useful tools that make their jobs and record keeping much easier. Have a question about a particular unit at a council meeting? No problem, we can pull that information right away on a laptop or a phone. How about approving invoices from anywhere? Move-in and move-out inspections have never been so pleasant. Inspection reports are readily available on the manager’s phone – take a picture to record damage and compare with move-in conditions. All reports are synchronized with the central database and can be emailed to anyone, including accounting to process security refunds.
Mobile technologies: Residents can easily connect with neighbours, post memos, organize parties or get notified of a package delivery.
Green technology: Research suggests buildings with green characteristics increase in asset value by 5 per cent to 10 per cent, compared to traditional buildings, and can reduce operating costs by 13 per cent to 14 percent. Smart HVAC technology collects and analyzes data, has the ability to adjust temperature and humidity and optimize comfort level in the building. Smart technology allows technicians to diagnose and address any issues remotely.
IoT: Just as in every other industry, IoT (internet of things) has forever changed how we manage properties. We are confident that technology will continue to evolve our industry. At the same time, we have an increased responsibility to use the data and technology with care.
Parisa Tong is co-founder and vice-president of Remi Realty Inc., a property management firm covering Metro Vancouver. Visit remirealty.ca