Questions to Ask When Choosing a Smart Home Provider

Adding smart home technology to your multifamily property is a big decision. Not only will…

Adding smart home technology to your multifamily property is a big decision. Not only will it cost you time and money upfront, it will also transform your rentals—for the better, if you ask us. We know that renters are increasingly attracted to the many perks of smart homes. But how do you know which smart home system is right for your current and future residents?

As creators of smart home technology, we’re admittedly a little biased. But we also want to make this decision an easy one for you. So let’s address the questions you should consider when adding smart home technology to your multi-family property.


Will you benefit from increased control over vacant units?

These are challenging times for most businesses, including property ownership groups and management companies. Filling empty units has always been time-intensive. Now, the need for social distancing has complicated the process further. We usually hear about the benefits of smart home technology for residents. But there are big perks for property managers, too.

Smart home technology can simplify the steps toward filling your rental units, and can help you lease them faster. From appointment-setting to self-guided touring functionality, smart home technology streamlines tasks and reduces in-person encounters.

Here at IOTAS, we recently launched Prospect Tour—a self-guided touring feature offering increased safety and independence for apartment shoppers, without sacrificing the personalized experience that turns apartment hunters into new residents. Automatic settings in model units can turn the lights up, the music on, and even control temperature settings to optimize viewing conditions. Lead capture and appointment-setting can also be accessed through our easy-to-use tools.

When vacant units are not being toured, smart home technology makes it easy to maintain and monitor them while also saving on utilities. Smart thermostats will keep the temperature right without wasting energy, and smart locks and sensors can increase security and peace of mind.

So if you’re tired of dealing with manual management of your empty units, and you’re looking to fill those units faster, smart home technology can be a helpful and valuable addition. You’ll want to choose a smart home provider that includes vacant unit management perks, like self-guided tours and remote monitoring and control.


What kind of smart home is best for rentals?

There are two main categories of smart home providers: app-based and hardware-based.

App-based smart homes can be a collection of devices that each connect to their own app. But the availability of different apps for all aspects of life can be overwhelming. Most would agree: the fewer apps the better. Having to juggle multiple apps to manage smart home functions is neither ideal nor simple from the perspective of the user.

If you want to offer smart home capabilities as a big perk for renters, it makes the most sense to go with a physical smart home hub that can be included with each rental property, along with connected devices like smart locks and a smart thermostat. The physical smart home hub creates a secure, connected system that’s easy to get started, as soon as a new resident moves in. Nothing needs to be installed. No hardware needs to be changed out. Newly moved-in residents only need to download one simple app and login for the first time, then they’re ready to begin utilizing their new smart apartment features from day one.

When it comes to smart home systems for multifamily rental properties, a hardware-based system allows you to offer IoT capabilities as an amenity that comes right along with the unit. It’s an increasingly effective selling point that’s proven to command rent premiums and give your property an edge over the competition.


What kind of devices will your residents want to connect?

Smart home providers offer the ability to connect all kinds of devices and hardware, from smart locks and sensors that know when you leave for work in the morning to entertainment systems that connect your favorite playlist on your phone to the speakers in your living room.

A smart home system with a physical hub makes it easy to connect all devices to one place—and it also makes it easy to get started. Renters simply connect their wifi to the hub and they have instant connectivity to the smart devices included in their system, along with the ones they already use, like their phone or their tablet device.

Consider what type of devices your residents will enjoy—and what kind they already have. Your smart home system should connect with a wide variety of devices to appeal to the largest cross-section of prospective renters.

Voice commands are a popular feature of smart home technology, so picking a voice-activated smart home system is a great way to bring all of the capabilities together in a way that’s easy to access.

Are your residents comfortable with new technology?

Adding smart home technology to your multifamily property impacts existing residents, too. It’s important to consider what kind of changes your current residents will be comfortable with. And communicating those changes is key in making sure everyone knows how to use the new system.

A strong customer service team that’s readily available for project support, training, trouble-shooting, and on-call to answer questions will make the transition much easier. Look for smart home providers that are available for both property and resident-level customer support. Smart home technology should be easy-to-use, but there will always be a period of adjustments to all the new features. With the right support from your smart home provider, residents and managers can embrace their new system and start enjoying it right away.


Will your investment be usable as technology continues to grow and change?

Apartments outfitted with smart home technology are quickly profitable thanks to the premiums renters are willing to pay for those upgrades. But when smart apartments can’t adapt to the lighting speed at which technology advances, you risk cutting your profits short.

It’s important to know if your smart home provider is keeping their system updated to work with the latest technologies. A hardware-agnostic system like IOTAS can grow with your property as renters upgrade their own devices and new people move in and out.

Choose a smart home provider that you can stick with for the long-haul. Before you commit, ask how their system stays up-to-date with new generations of smart devices.


Is smart home tech right for your property?

Not every smart home system works with every property. And the more devices that are included, the more you’ll need to know about how they fit into your existing infrastructure. Are the smart locks compatible with the types of doors you have installed? Can the smart leak sensors work with your existing plumbing? The last thing you want to do is purchase software and hardware for your 100+ unit property only to find out that little to none of it is usable.

A representative from your smart home provider of choice should be able to help you determine if the system is a good match for your property.


How is installation and setup handled? What support is offered before, during and after deployment?

Depending upon the types of devices and the complexity of your smart home system, you might need some help in getting everything set up and rolling. And since this type of technology is likely new to your management team, you’ll want to know what kind of installation and training assistance and support is provided before, during, and after the system gets installed.

Is the smart home provider easy to reach by phone? Give them a call to find out. The availability of a phone number and whether or not you can reach a real person is a good indicator of how available they’ll be once you’ve signed up.

Once everything is set up and ready to go, now what? Has your provider left it for you to figure out how to market your new platform or how to engage residents? Do they provide any support materials or talking points? A good smart home provider will supply you with materials at every step of the deployment process to ensure the comfort of your staff and success of your property.


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