Property technology, more commonly known as ‘prop-tech,’ is a term used in the real estate industry for innovative technologies that help drive efficiencies, streamline processes, and improve resident experiences.
Thought of as an industry traditionally slow to adopt new trends, real estate is forging a technological path forward. Over the years, prop-tech has continuously evolved, going through three separate phases. Billions of dollars are being invested in prop-tech, with the industry nearly eclipsing $32 billion in 2019.
Prop-tech is a vital tool for Avenue Living as it helps us to optimize the way people seek out, rent, and manage properties. Avenue Living has been transforming into a property management company of the future by integrating prop-tech into our operating strategies.
Tech taking over the real estate sector
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning, Virtual Reality (VR), Internet of Things, and others are making waves in the industry. VR showings, more common since the pandemic, have also played a large role in prop-tech’s uprising.
And as companies attempt to operate in a way that’s more sustainable, prop-tech is becoming a priority. Residential, commercial, and industrial buildings account for 17 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. We’re continually examining our practices to find ways we can reduce our environmental footprint, from our day-to-day processes to the capital improvements we make to our multi-residential assets. In the future, prop-tech is going to be integral for companies as they become more efficient and environmentally friendly.
Investing in technology
Our investments in technology meant we were ready to transition to work-from-home wherever possible — flexibility that became essential to operations when the COVID-19 pandemic and its resulting public health measures closed offices everywhere in Canada in March 2020. We were also able to implement changes such as online forms to keep our current residents safe.
Technology gives us insight into turnover and resident experience, capex projects, and building maintenance, allowing us to make decisions critical to ensuring Avenue Living residents not only want to stay long-term but that they will invite others to join the community. With the world going mobile, it’s important we stay up to speed on the best ways to interact with residents. Technology also facilitates decision making within Avenue Living with respect to property management, enabling us to protect and increase the value of our assets.
Examples of prop-tech used by Avenue Living
Due to the type of low-density properties we own and operate, we’ve always been a tech-forward company. Managing over 450 multi-family resident buildings across Western Canada means we must be proactive and efficient in our operations and prop-tech is an important part of how we accomplish that.
In 2019, we completed our transition to provide electronic leasing to both prospective and current tenants through YUHU. These improvements enabled the team to remotely assist current and prospective residents during the pandemic. In 2020, we also continued our migration to Yardi, one of the leading technology software providers for the multi-family industry. Migrating to the Yardi platform has enabled Avenue Living to further invest in our team members, helping improve efficiency. We believe investments in our team will have a direct impact on the experiences of our residents. Also in 2020, we began using Sitefotos, an app that allows cleaning vendors and operations teams to upload tagged photos, complete checklists, and flag concerns so our logistics, procurement, and operations teams can remotely monitor work orders or safety checks.
We have recently made technological updates to the Avenue Living Communities website to improve functionality and focus on further improving the customer experience through an upgraded interface, online portal for scheduling showings, our live chat functionality, Clark, and 3D virtual tours of suites.
Technical training for our employees is a vital part of Avenue Living Communities’ operations, and our partnership with Circuit Stream has allowed us to develop VR courses to help teams learn processes and systems remotely.
VR technology allows students to grasp motion, impact, or scope in an immersive environment and in-app scoring gives them immediate feedback. One of the courses we are using teaches new Residential Portfolio Managers to assess a recent move-out to determine the work required to make the suite rent-ready.
By using prop-tech solutions such as these, we have honed our business strategy, streamlined operations, and enhanced the resident experience.
Incorporation of technology tools allows us to meet the demands of value-conscious residents and we will continue to keep investing in prop-tech as a tech-forward company.