Property Managers Play the Technology Card to Win Tenants and Investors

Digital innovation is only as good as the customers it serves. Look at Amazon. Look at Netflix. But those are the most valuable players in the relatively short lifespan of the innovation storm that surrounded the advent of the internet and then the opening of the smartphone. There’s other stories and other sectors of the connected economy that have been defined by the seamless and intuitive end-user experiences it is able to deliver.

This is especially true when it comes to more traditional industries, like real estate in general and property management specifically. That’s because the integration of software solutions and connected devices has revolutionized how property managers operate, enhancing efficiency, transparency and overall service quality.

“We were looking at the health of the portfolio manager,” Tony Julianelle, CEO of Atlas Real Estate, told PYMNTS’ CEO Karen Webster. “How do we give our portfolio managers more resources and tools to do the job more efficiently and have more time in their day?”

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” he added.


Digital Transformation of Property Management

Digital transformation is no longer a futuristic concept in property management, but a present-day reality allowing businesses to leverage technology to address the challenges endemic to the space. For example, with advanced data visualization tools, businesses are equipped to track key metrics that can allow for better decision-making and cost control. And data is a powerful tool in property management, enabling improved performance.

“The owners and investors that we serve, they want clean data. They want meaningful projections, and they want good budgets, they want to be able to see year-over-year rent growth,” Julianelle said, noting that Atlas Real Estate serves a diverse range of property owners, from accidental landlords with a single property to large private equity firms managing extensive portfolios.

This diversity necessitates a flexible and comprehensive approach to data management and reporting, as well as access to institutional-grade capabilities for all owners, ensuring transparency and meaningful projections regardless of portfolio size.

“Our own portfolio becomes our best comp,” Julianelle said, emphasizing the value of in-house data to set benchmarks and optimize pricing and maintenance strategies. The ability to analyze lead generation, leasing trends and market conditions allows for a more responsive and proactive management approach, he added.

And Julianelle explained that his company’s partnership with AppFolio, a comprehensive property management platform, was a key step in its digital transformation journey. This collaboration enabled the business to sift through various property technology (prop tech) solutions to build a reliable tech stack that enhances efficiency.

Tenant Experience: Heart of Property Management

At the core of the property management business is the tenant experience. The successful amalgamation of technology with traditional property management practices should aim deliver the customer experience and high-touch service that tenants expect.

“The tenant is our customer,” Julianelle explained. “They are the only ones actually paying anything, so their experience is paramount. … We live in a constant battle against vacancy. The highest cost of owning real estate is vacancy.”

And other digital innovations, including smart home technologies, play a role in providing a seamless and satisfying living experience and mitigating the cost of vacancies. Features like keyless entry, smart thermostats and other connected devices contribute to tenant retention, and Julianelle added that residents — who tend to be technologically driven — appreciate the ease and modernity these technologies bring to their homes.

That’s part of why, on Tuesday (June 25), Colorado Business Magazine named Atlas Real Estate best in Colorado property management for the eighth consecutive year.

However, one digital innovation that has yet to reach breakthrough momentum in property management, whether between residents, contractors, employees or other members of the real estate ecosystem, is instant payments.

“We currently operate on a net 14 to net 7 payment schedule,” Julianelle said, “We find with our best vendors it’s easy to hit a net 7 because they’re actually uploading a complete invoice with before and after pictures.”

The future may see a shift toward instant payments as technology advances and reliability increases, but, as Julianelle added, “It is not currently an expectation to get paid instantly. What we run into is there are still people that just don’t even pay. Vendors fight that battle all the time.”

Still, he emphasized that the future of property management lies in continued digital transformation and innovation. As the industry evolves, the integration of artificial intelligence, further advancements in smart home technology, and enhanced data analytics will likely shape the next phase of property management, demonstrating the potential of technology to revolutionize an industry deeply rooted in traditional practices.