A Guide to Proptech in the Student Housing Industry

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Property technology, or proptech, is a prevalent buzzword within the real estate industry. Referring collectively to the range of innovations that are disrupting real estate markets, proptech offers a competitive edge, providing value to property residents as well as the property’s owners, operators and investors.

Incorporating proptech is even more essential for the student housing industry than for other real estate markets, as it’s crucial for resonating with Gen Z, a generation with unique standards and expectations when it comes to technology. Below are a few of the ways that student housing management companies and operators should consider implementing prop tech at their property.

Use prop tech to streamline current processes

Proptech systems, whether proprietary or public, can work wonders to streamline leasing systems, financials, billing, reputation management, marketing and more. Identify areas that can be made more efficient at your property, and prioritize implementing proptech in those areas first.

Invest in a customer relationship management (CRM) tool

Next, implement a CRM tool that modernizes the initial customer journey. Find a tool that has advanced tracking capabilities able to log specifics about each resident’s journey from prospect to signed lease. Important factors to track include the frequency of communication, content, and channels that ultimately led to conversion. With this information, you can fine-tune communication with future prospects. Gen Z already does a significant amount of research on their own before moving forward with a purchase; therefore, it’s important to create a short customer journey that’s as personalized as possible.

Implement tech to make properties “smart”

Lastly, make properties “smart” to meet resident and investor demand. According to 2019  proptech investor research, 36% of investors said that smart buildings were the most interesting area of proptech innovation.

How does implementing smart home technology look for student housing? One idea is installing cameras and motion sensors — these provide value to the resident and physically protect the asset, contributing to higher net operating income. Second, consider how to implement “green” initiatives into your properties. Third, integrate technology such as a Google Home to regulate temperature, lights and more to produce a higher return on investment. Properties that opt to invest in replacing outdated features with “smart” features will achieve higher property values and ultimately save money in the long run — even if the costs of maintaining legacy technology seems lower upfront.

Additional tips for implementing effective propetch as a student housing manager or operator

  • When possible, build smart the first time. While it may be tempting to skimp on prop tech and spend less at the time of purchase, building smart will save you money down the line, avoiding inevitable renovations that come with legacy technology while simultaneously adding immediate value to the property.
  • See residents as the assets they are. Turn to CAs to gather the younger generation of resident’s thoughts on how certain features of the property resonate and to gain new insights into their experience as property users. No feedback is more valuable than the feedback from your customers, as they know firsthand what they want.
  • Train your staff well. Make sure everyone is on the same page about any new proptech introduced. This will increase buy-in and ensure that staff are using the technology to its full capabilities.

In conclusion

Solid prop tech is of value for any real estate property, but particularly for student housing as residents are of a younger generation that has grown up with technology. Staying relevant to their wants, needs and changing communications styles will increase the value of student housing properties, to the benefit of residents, operators and managers, and investors, alike.