About 3-5 years ago, I remember how everyone’s clever 2020 business plan was titled “The 20/20 Vision” plan. Looking back now with true 20/20 vision, none of us could have predicted what would actually happen in 2020. 

Nope, not even close… 

Much like 2020, it’s almost impossible predicting what 2021 might bring for us. However, I can advocate for things that I believe need to happen in 2021, and what the impact 2020 will have on 2021 for the Multi-Family PropTech industry.

Major events from 2020 that will impact 2021 

RealPage Acquisition

From their press release:RealPage, Inc. (NASDAQ: RP), a leading global provider of software and data analytics to the real estate industry, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Thoma Bravo, a leading private equity investment firm focused on the software and technology-enabled services sector, in an all-cash transaction that values RealPage at approximately $10.2 billion, including net debt.

It seems the leadership will stay put for now, and Steve Winn will continue on along with his team, so we’re not totally sure what kind of change we’ll see in RealPage services. This acquisition could be indicative of what’s to come, however. With the amount of cash that private equity companies are still looking to deploy, it seems likely that future buyouts, consolidations, and mergers across the Multi-Family PropTech industry is inevitable. The sheer amount of change that these M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) activities have may cause a bit of a whiplash effect on owners and developers who are betting on a particular tech partner to help them into the future. As large incumbents are acquired (because it inevitably will be the larger ones with the amount of capital that is deployed), it opens up opportunities for new challengers to fill gaps in services and products while incumbents reestablish themselves.  

From High-Touch to No-Touch 

Multi-family buildings have always been proud of the high-touch amenities they offer. Concierge services and extraordinary common spaces were once commonplace, but coronavirus caused a rapid shift to utilizing smartphones and devices so contact is minimized, overworked staff can become more efficient. The No-Touch shift from 2020 will likely continue on, as it showed owners and operators that technology can drive more prospective residents to their buildings, as well as create bigger pipelines of qualified leads using services like IOTAS Prospect Tour. We’re seeing a major “sea-change” right now because of the effect of No-Touch technology on building access, something that’s discussed in Lee Odess’ book, “The 6 Phase Changes.” 

What needs to happen in 2021

Resiliency

The impact that 2020 has had on our lives cannot be understated. Many have lost loved ones and are dealing with the long-term effects of COVID-19, and even more may be impacted by the loss of livelihoods and potential increase in houselessness. Properties need to understand that trying to conduct business as usual will have a severe impact on their future valuation, viability, and ability to compete. Properties need to build resiliency in anticipation of challenges including climate change, economic downturns, labor shortages, pandemics and technology evolution. At IOTAS, we strive to help our customers build resilience through IoT technology that can ease labor loads, create energy savings, establish no-touch access, and create digital interactions in their communities. 

Sustainability

When essential needs are being undermined, it’s easy to overlook higher pursuits like the loss of art and culture. But for any community to not just survive, but thrive, people need connection through common interests and enjoyment of their built environment. When we mention sustainability, that’s not just energy savings. It’s a way for properties to help their residents pursue a sustainable life in health and wellness, social interactions, and an overall fulfillment of their own personal goals. 2021 will still see many people work from home. On top of that, it’s likely all of their entertainment and social interactions will remain virtual, accessed only through a screen. The entirety of peoples’ lives will be walled in the built environment created by owners and operators. If rental supplies become plentiful, residents will be attracted to properties that offer their values and technological needs. Faster, more reliable connectivity becomes paramount, ensuring more digital interactions with their environment. Properties that truly understand what it means to be sustainable, from tech and energy savings, to health and wellness, will be the ones that will be resilient and can deal with the challenges to come. 

In hindsight, as challenging as 2020 was, it did usher in faster adoption of technology, as well as a greater need for properties to continue their operations and improve upon them. In a short amount of time, the MFH industry changed their opinions on IoT, from it being a nice-to-have feature for attracting residents, to it being a must-have for building intelligence and process improvements. 

In 2021, IOTAS will continue delivering better property experiences, and we’ll innovate right alongside our partners and customers. 

I wish you all a great holiday season and look forward to working with you in the new year.

Best wishes,

Sce Pike,

CEO & Founder, IOTAS