Contactless Leasing and Online Property Management Are the Future
The new generation of tenants is one that is accustomed to conducting most of their business on their cellphones, and landlords need to adjust to meet that desire.
From house and apartment showings that can be arranged with an app, to leases that can be negotiated and signed remotely, to rents that can made through and online payment system and repairs that can arranged through a portal, tenants should be able to find a new place to live just by using their phones -- without ever having to make a call.
Showing rental properties in person can be a time-consuming and frustrating process. Schedules need to be coordinated, and people often need to take time off work to make an appointment.
“Sending leasing agents all over town is not an efficient use of their time,” said Travis Bohling, regional director for Mynd Management.
And delays in showings can cost money. Mynd’s data scientists have found that the sooner an owner gets eight prospective tenants in to see a property, the quicker the property will likely rent. Research shows that about 12 percent of prospective tenants are good candidates as renters.
Half of all renters say they are forced to take time off work to view apartments, while 40% say they decided against an apartment because they couldn’t find time to tour it. Virtual tours remove this barrier, giving renters the ability to schedule a showing online at a time that’s convenient for them.
For younger renters, self-guided tours of a property without an agent hovering can serve as an incentive. Research shows about half of millennials prefer smart access methods for entering their homes, and a technology-savvy landlord has an in with a generation raised on smartphones.
If a prospective tenant is near a property she is interested in, she can reach out to Mynd to get a unique code to access an electronic lockbox. Before she gets the code, she goes through a process to have her identity verified.
Bohling says Mynd gets pushback from owners who don’t want strangers to access a property, but it has put safeguards in place.
“Self-showings are an important part of our process; however, fraud is a big problem,” says Colin Wiel, co-founder and chairman of Mynd. “When setting up self-showing visits, we perform identity verification using facial recognition software to compare a ‘selfie’ they take of themselves to their driver's license picture.”
For Bohling, a showing without an agent present makes for a more candid assessment. “I prefer to look at a property without a stranger around,” he said.
And without the ability to allow remote showings, properties are bound to “sit on the market longer and get fewer quality applicants,” he added.
A Frictionless Move-In Day
The same technologies that allow a prospective tenant to visit a property without an agent and make payments online can be employed to make the process of moving in less stressful.
No longer is there a need to coordinate schedules to make sure keys and documents are exchanged to vet a tenants viability or allow them access to the property. A prospective tenant’s credit and rental history can be verified through online portals, technologies like Docusign can make a lease-signing virtual, and the coded lockbox can allow them access to the property where the keys can be left on a counter.
“These contactless move-ins mean there is no need to meet to exchange keys,” Bohling said.
Once the tenants have moved in, setting up electronic rental payments makes life more convenient for both them and property owners. For renters, online rental payments are much easier and safer, especially during the pandemic, and they can pay on time, avoid late fees, reduce stress, and limit contact with people.
Owners receive their monthly rental income as quickly as possible, so they can take care of the expenses they must pay to keep their property running smoothly, such as a mortgage, utility bills, property taxes and more.
“Paying rent online allows residents to hit the ‘Easy Button,’” explains Steve Rozenberg, Head of Investor Education with Mynd. “It makes their lives much easier.”
Mynd sends flyers in the mail to people who are paying by check with step-by-step instructions and visuals to get their online account set up to make e-payments, a process that benefits both landlords and tenants.
Maintenance Goes Virtual
Mynd also has automated the process of making repairs or submitting other maintenance requests convenient for tenants.
If a faucet is leaking or some other repair needs to be made, a tenant can take a photo and upload it to a portal which is tracked by approved vendors, who can reach out directly to a tenant to schedule a time to make the repair.
Bohling said Mynd has instituted a higher dollar threshold to pay for home visits -- up to $500 -- to cut down on the need for repeat visits from repairmen.
One way to prevent high turnover, which inevitably costs landlords money, is “to respond quickly to maintenance issues,” Bohling added. The first 30 days for a new tenant are particularly important as that is when they form lasting impressions of a property owner’s commitment.
Renewing a Lease, Remotely
Technology can also be a landlord’s friend when it comes time to renew a lease. Again, scheduling an inspection can be a challenge for both property managers and tenants and even though the Covid pandemic appears to be waning, most people still want to limit their interactions with strangers.
Bohling said Mynd has an app that allows for contactless inspection called APICO. It also can analyze payment history and other factors to determine to evaluate a tenant before going ahead with a lease renewal.
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