As with so much of our lives, the way we search, rent, and live in apartments across the country is receiving a high-powered charge from ground-breaking internet technology. Whether you’re a tenant looking for a new place to live or a landlord trying to rent units, your future success lies in online services, software, and programs.
Search databases and directories, web services that collate and organize agreements and payments, and the burgeoning IoT (Internet of Things) are all ways new technology is transforming the rental world.
The search happens online, or not at all
The old days of cold-calling landlords, scanning newspaper listings and driving around in seek of FOR RENT signs are long gone. The search for apartments has migrated online, making the experience more convenient, expedient and student-friendly than ever before.
In fact, those not searching online are probably only seeing a miniscule fraction of available listings. Today’s databases provide easy-to-use search engines that let users scan by city, intersection, number of bedrooms, minimum and maximum rent, and a whole lot more. Great directories also include comprehensive information on the area, building, and management company, leaving nothing to chance. That means for those tenants looking for specific building features—on-site parking, in-suite laundry, security, fitness centres, pools, balconies, and so forth—or, for a particular amenity nearby, a full summary is provided. High-definition photos, 3-D floor plans, and crisp videos banish all doubt from the process, meaning prospective tenants will only book an appointment if seriously interested.
Another helpful tactic is to incorporate social media buttons to vacancy listings, connecting prospective tenants to Twitter and Facebook channels. This allows renters to keep track of what they’ve seen, what they’d like to see, and even to share listings with other friends in mind. Mobile applications for iOS and Android devices allow anyone with a smartphone to conduct a thorough apartment search without the ‘in-person’ hassles the process once entailed.
Online accounts keep things organized
The great migration online also means tenants can expect to pay rent, approve agreements, and communicate with property managers using free web services. Software aimed at property management, like Property Vista, is designed to make life much easier (and more profitable) for property managers while equally serving the tenant. Streamlining platforms are available on all browsers and devices and offer a number of great benefits.
The first benefit is that paperless lease-processing means faster approvals and screening, less paper wastage (an eco-friendly perk), and reduced clutter from the paper trail. In addition, an online interface allows tenants to pay rent, update their perks and services or insurance agreements, and place maintenance or repair orders more efficiently. Lastly, instant communication options will reassure tenants that there’s always someone receiving their messages. Some absentee landlords might play a never-ending game of phone tag, so knowing an office has received and is processing a request adds a sense of security and surety.
Having a centralized and user-friendly hub will improve organization and reduce stress. Other free online interfaces, such as Evernote, feedly, Reeder, Hootsuite, and Buffer will only enhance this.
The coolest—and certainly most sci-fi—transformation on the horizon for apartment living is a product of the IoT (Internet of Things) or IoE (Internet of Everything). For those not up-to-date with the newest acronyms, the Internet of Everything (or Things) refers to everyday objects going online, offering connected services on top of their standard uses.
New products using this responsive technology include umbrellas with displays that alert users when it’s about to rain; appliance-related programs that let you modulate air conditioning temperatures; lighting levels, or frequency of use from remote locations (no more worrying about whether you’ve turned off the stove!); doorbells that alert the household when family members are heading home (via GPS tracking software); shades that lower or rise with the sun across the sky, and so much more. In this case, the possibilities might actually be endless.
One very cool, simple, and available IoE-powered item is Twist, the light bulb that also serves as a speaker, letting tenants play music wherever they have a lamp. AirPlay-enabled devices like Twist mean the beginning of even basic items (like light bulbs) serving two or more purposes. This means customizable tools and appliances to suit a variety of living needs, all with the touch of a button. To some theorists, we soon won’t even need our smartphones and tablets to control these devices, since they’ll come with their own controls and often respond to verbal or kinetic commands.
As technology advances, one thing is certain: soon listing your rental as a “smart apartment” might be as standard as stating you have a balcony or a washer and dryer. Now is the time to embrace the trend.
Chaim Rivlin is the founder and CEO of RentSeeker.