April 25, 2022
Currently, vacancy rates are down and rents are up. This seems to suggest that rental housing is a seller’s market right now. This is, in fact, far from a universal truth. After a brief drop in 2020, rents for high-quality apartments did soar to record-breaking highs in 2021. And the vacancy rate plummeted, down from 6.6% in early 2020 to 5.8% in the third quarter of 2021 — the lowest rate on record since the mid-1980s. It’s worthy of note, however, that the vacancy rate for professionally-managed apartments was still lower, falling to an unprecedented 4.6% during the same period.
This is because most of the recent growth in the rental market is due to larger numbers of high-income households looking for rental housing. According to Pew Research, these renters tend to be younger, with few or no children, and they tend to be most interested in living in urban centers or other premium locations. Many of them are choosing to rent even though buying a home would be less expensive.
From inconveniences to inflexibility, many see homeownership as more of a burden than it’s worth. Today’s renters are also drawn by the amenities and concierge services that today’s luxury and high-end rental properties offer.
Developers and property managers who want to attract these residents need to offer technology- enabled amenities that will set their buildings apart. In today’s connected world, this includes smart building technology.
In fact, technological solutions that were once considered nice-to-have are now thought of as essential components of a building’s infrastructure. These include access control and video security systems. Residents now demand the smooth, highly secure experiences that these systems provide. And the most cost-effective way to meet this need is to integrate these solutions into the building’s design from the earliest stages of the process. This way, these critical functions are included in the core operational design of the building, as opposed to a more disruptive and more expensive piece-meal installation after construction.
What is a Smart Building? Today’s residents expect that they’ll have easy access to people-centric communal spaces and amenities within buildings while also enjoying robust security. Smart building technologies – which take advantage of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and internet connectivity – create intelligent systems that bolster the building from the ground up, providing environmental or automated access capabilities and beyond. These features are highly desirable in both residential and commercial rental properties.
Smart Buildings provide property managers with real-time data that make for more efficient and better-operated spaces. Insights into electricity, natural gas, and water usage as they occur mean reducing waste and preventing maintenance. The ability to identify and avoid serious malfunctions such as water damage can potentially save millions and prevent displacing residents.
Prospective residents, especially millennial and Gen Z tenants, want quality, and smart building technology gives them added luxury without tying up property management resources. Increased heating and cooling control mean fewer temperature complaints to management. Smart building technologies enable property managers to provide security and convenience without incurring the costs associated with hiring on-site security guards or concierge services. Tenants can control many aspects of their space with their smartphones, like keyless apartment entry or mobile device-based visitor registration.
Developers can further improve future residents’ experiences and cut costs by integrating these solutions into the building’s infrastructure during the design phase – long before construction even begins. Just as electrical, plumbing, HVAC, and parking systems are incorporated into every building during the planning phase, access control and video surveillance technology should be considered core design elements of every twenty-first-century building. Plus, it improves the facility’s long-term functionality, particularly when best-in-class technologies are used. These will inherently work better and be less invasive than off-the-shelf hardware that was retrofitted as an afterthought.
Smart building technology improves the quality of life for residents
Today’s residents appreciate the convenience that comes with being able to access their units using credentials stored right on their mobile devices. They also prefer buildings in which other systems – such as parking management solutions – are seamlessly integrated with access control.
Building managers can use the smartphones already in people’s pockets as master keys to the whole building experience. While there are obvious uses such as building amenity apps, there are also more advanced uses such as smart elevator integration and a system for managing deliveries.
Growing numbers of residents are choosing buildings on the basis of the amenities available in common spaces. These include perks like fitness centers, pools, and shared rooftop entertainment centers. Being able to access these spaces anytime they’re open (from their phone) is a convenience they value. They also enjoy remote video-enabled visitor access management. If a resident is on the fence about visiting a common space, smart integration can show them if it’s already in use.
However, residents don’t want to sacrifice safety and security in order to enjoy these conveniences. If anything, robust security is more important than it’s ever been in the luxury rental market. Historically speaking, however, burglaries have been more prevalent in rentals than owner-occupied properties. They’re also more likely to occur in buildings with nine units or fewer.
Hiring security guards remains an effective deterrent, but it’s a cost-prohibitive strategy, especially for smaller-scale real estate businesses. Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered video surveillance can achieve nearly the same level of security at a small fraction of the cost. These solutions can cover larger areas more thoroughly than manual surveillance. And, in state-of-the-art remote guarding systems, threats detected by the software are immediately verified by remotely located human security experts in a video operations center. Their presence reduces false-positive alarm rates to near zero, saving on penalty fees to police for false alarm responses.
Video surveillance can be integrated with access control systems to provide a holistic solution that combines ease-of-entry with robust security. While traditional door locks will always be vulnerable to forcing and picking, smart access systems aren’t. Plus, they serve as a forensic record of events for authorities, not to mention providing an extra layer of monitoring for additional security.
By making it easier to enhance occupant comfort and improve building security – and to do so cost-effectively – smart building technologies enable property managers to better meet the physical and psychological needs of today’s residents. Adding these technologies to project plans in the earliest design stages can further enhance functionality and reduce costs.
To learn more about how Kastle Security helps clients create security-first spaces by incorporating advanced technologies early in design, learn more about our “before the pour” technology design process.