Turning the lights on with a voice command, setting the thermostat to a comfy temperature before your afternoon commute, and even remotely feeding Fido a treat midday sounds like something out of an episode of The Jetsons. But the truth is, smart home technology is penetrating the housing market at an extraordinary rate.  

Smart home tech isn’t just for single-family homes. Multifamily renters want to get connected. In fact, smart home technology ranks among the top amenities renters are willing to pay more for.

Let’s dive into why you should consider installing smart home technology, what systems are popular on the market right now, and some tips to make implementing the new tech smoother.

Give renters what they want, and you’ll benefit, too

According to a survey of 1,000 U.S. multifamily renters from lock manufacturer Schlage and Wakefield, more than 61% of renters are likely to rent an apartment specifically because of electronic access features. The same data show that 86% of Millennials will pay about one-fifth more per unit if it’s equipped with smart amenities like smart locks, thermostats, and lights.

If you can advertise your apartments as “smart,” you’re likely to be a top choice for many desirable renters, Plus, you’ll likely yield higher returns for your units.

The rundown on smart home tech for multifamily

Popular smart home tech

Smart thermostats

The Department of Energy reports that heating and cooling accounts for nearly half of the energy use in the typical American household. A smart thermostat is an excellent way to help cut back on energy bills. Your tenants can control temperatures in their unit from their phone. So, for example, if they accidentally leave the A/C on before a long weekend, they can shut it off right from an app. Voice control can even control some thermostats.  

Your residents won’t be the only ones seeing a decrease in their energy bills. With smart thermostats, you can effortlessly control the temperature of vacant units and common areas. If you equip your spaces with thermostats that “learn” or have motion sensors, you won’t even have to worry about adjusting the temperature.

According to online reviewers, here are some of the highest-rated thermostats on the market:

Smart lighting

Heating and cooling might make up the bulk of energy usage, but lighting takes up its fair share. In fact, Americans spend about 9% of their residential energy on lighting. Imagine how much power you and your residents could save by using smart lighting!

Much like smart thermostats, equipping your units with smart lighting allows you and your tenants to remotely turn lights on and off. As an example, say one of your renters rushes off to work without turning their bedside lamp off. With a smart lighting system, your tenant can turn the bulb off from their smartphone. And if you forgot to flip the switch after showing a unit, you can turn it off the second you remember.  

Wirecutter, Digital Trends, and TechHive named these as some of their top picks for smart bulbs:

WiFi connected outlets

WiFi outlets are yet another way to increase the efficiency in your units. Small appliances found in nearly every apartment — TVs, Blu Ray players, computers — consume energy even when they’re turned off.

With a smart outlet, residents can set timers for their appliances and turn them on and off from anywhere with internet access. Any appliance plugged into a smart outlet turns into a smart appliance. Some outlets offer insights into energy usage, which may prompt people to change some of their daily habits. After some time using smart outlets, chances are your residents will see a dip in their energy bills. Happy residents = happy property managers.  

Digital Trends named these plugs among of their top picks for the best smart outlets:

Smart locks

One thing renters and property managers agree on is that dealing with keys can be cumbersome. A set of keys is extraordinarily easy to lose and getting locked out is an inconvenience many renters have had to face. And property managers have to keep track of keys for new tenants, people moving out, maintenance staff, leasing agents, and the list goes on.

Smart locks take all the hassle out of dealing with keys. Much like with the lighting and thermostat systems we’ve mentioned already, you and your residents can manage smart locks from a smartphone. Alternatively, some locks can be unlatched using a fob, card, or code, making them a viable solution for people who don’t carry a cell phone everywhere. Locks designed for the multifamily industry often feature solutions allowing property managers to control locks from a central hub, eliminating the need to keep track of hundreds of passcodes.

Multifamily Executive included these locks on a list suitable for apartments:

Package lockers

Amazon shipped 5 billion shipments worldwide in 2017 — just to its Prime members.  

Proof that consumers love the convenience of online shopping with free two-day shipping is in the numbers, but a constant flood of package deliveries can cause major headaches. Every time a package comes in, you or your staff have to spend a couple minutes with each one. A couple minutes might not seem like a lot, but that time can add up.

Package lockers take the stress out of manually handling package deliveries. In a case study with University of Nevada Las Vegas, we found that university staff were spending 240 hours every month just on package delivery. Now, with package lockers, the whole process takes only 13 seconds per package, and staff doesn’t have to be involved at all. Package lockers make it easy for residents to securely receive and return packages as well.

Want to learn more about package locker solutions? Check out our comparison of the major players in this fast-growing space: Smiota vs. Parcel Pending vs. Luxer One vs. Others: Which Package Locker System is Your Best Fit?

On the horizon

There are smart window coverings, appliances, and security systems on the market as well, but some of the technology is still in its infancy. And just like Sony’s first CD player cost about $1,000 in 1982, some of the new smart home gadgets can get pretty pricey. Keep an eye on emerging tech, and you might find something perfect for your properties down the road.

Implementing smart technology in your buildings

Now’s the time to differentiate

The smart home technology market is growing rapidly. A study conducted by Zion Market Research shows that the global market was valued at about $24.1 billion in 2016 and is projected to more than double to $54.45 billion by 2022.

Now’s the time to invest. Smart home amenities will likely become commonplace, but right now, they can transform a standard unit into the apartment of the future.

Try taking a staggered approach

The smart home tech mentioned in this article will pay for themselves in time, but outfitting your apartments with smart home technology will be a big investment. To offset some of the immediate costs, consider equipping select units first and charging a little more for them. As you start to see a return on investment, you can plan for facility-wide rollout.  

Participate in the “smart home hubs” conversation

Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home can act as smart home “hubs,” allowing residents to control all their devices from one spot. However, large-scale hubs for property management are still in their infancy.  

As smart home tech and the Internet of Things (IoT) gains popularity in the multifamily space, developers will create more robust platforms that allow you to oversee all your smart home devices in one spot. If you jump into smart home tech now, you can be part of the conversation.

Start building your smart home systems with package lockers or mailroom software! Smiota’s package management solutions let you keep an eye on package deliveries without ever having to pick up a box or notify a resident about a delivery.

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Related reading: Apartment Amenities You’re Guaranteed to Notice in 2018