Multifamily Draws Proptech Advances

Engagement Apps and Hardware Options Take on New Services and Models.

By Glenn Felson, managing director, Kastle Systems

The multifamily sector remains extremely robust, creating opportunities for multifamily property technology to expand not only into new amenities and services but also into new models. A growing number of players in tenant engagement apps are entering the multifamily space.

New Players in Tenant Engagement

One company recently launched its product, Sugar, with a slightly different focus. While Sugar offers traditional services like access control and visitor management, its primary focus is to build community. According to founder and CEO Fatima Dicko, “As residents spend more time at home, the demand for products that enhance in-building experiences will continue to grow.”

Another proptech company, HILO, offers a service that works across CRE and multifamily, with a tenant experience network that connects people to their building community, neighborhood, and city. The program allows people to access rewards, content, services, and other residents—whether they’re in the office, working from home, or mid-commute.

Hardware Options Based on Integration

Providers typically require hardware for services like access control and visitor management. To ensure adoption, tenant engagement apps must include a necessary utility, like access control. Without that component, the app may become just another overlooked icon on tenants’ phones. For example, tenants can order food delivery through most engagement apps, but if they’re not already using the app regularly, chances are they’ll go directly through a service like DoorDash or GrubHub. When you increase residents’ reliance on an engagement app, in theory, that should lead to greater use of other app features.

Editor's note:

This article was adapted from “Tech Checks Into Multifamily,” published in the summer 2021 edition of Commercial Investment Real Estate magazine.

Some hardware manufacturers integrate with other solutions, like third-party access control providers. Others provide end-to-end solutions and choose not to integrate. ButterflyMX exemplifies an open system. Its intercom offers robust two-way audio and video communication, allowing residents to speak with visitors and unlock doors from their cell phone. Although ButterflyMX has its own end-to-end solution, it allows integrations with third-party systems. By contrast, Latch, which offers a suite of proprietary wireless locks and intercoms, chooses not to integrate with third parties. Although its operating system integrates with in-unit solutions like Google and Honeywell, the hardware doesn’t currently integrate with third-party tenant apps or other access control solutions.

What's Next?

The next wave of advances in multifamily proptech services will most likely take place inside residential units. Amazon is testing services like grocery delivery where the delivery driver enters an apartment and puts food into the refrigerator. Assuming we can get comfortable with situations that are unfamiliar or even uncomfortable, the possibilities are endless. (For more on where proptech is heading, see “Future of Proptech Investment.")

Future of Proptech Investment

December 15, 2021
The amount of financial support for proptech amid the global pandemic is a profound indication of the desire for new real estate technology solutions.

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