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Little Bird

Residential Communities are Seeing Huge ROI from Smart Technology


Multifamily developers are quickly realizing what a significant financial impact smart technology has on the net operating income (and overall property value) of their residential communities.

Most amenities are a money pit. They help attract new residents—which is why developers keep investing in them—but they also burn money and drain staff time maintaining them year after year.

As competition grows and resident expectations rise, developers find themselves pouring ever more money into luxurious resident amenities—pool, valet trash service, on-site car wash, dog park, coworking space, sauna, etc.—knowing that they’re all just eating into the net operating income. They write it off as the cost of doing business.

However, there’s one amenity that works a little differently: smart technology.

Up to 10x Return on Smart Tech Investment

Innovative proptech solutions like smart access control systems, smart home devices and sensors, and resident engagement features are actually generating a financial impact well beyond merely attracting residents.

Consider smart access control solutions, for example. Keyless entry reduces the cost of making, storing, and managing physical keys. Smartphone-based access eliminates the need to buy fobs. Digital guest codes prevent residents from propping gates open or sharing their own codes. Property staff can easily manage contractor access without having to walk around the property to unlock things for them. All of this combined help keep unwanted visitors out of your property, reducing theft and damage.

Those benefits combined would make smart access control a compelling financial investment because you’ll save more than you spend, but you also get the other major benefits of a great amenity on top of it: rent lift. Residents love it, want it, and will pay for it.

Smart Tech’s Outsized Impact on Property Value

The best part is that the multiplier effect of smart technology on operating income increases a community’s property value disproportionate to its cost.

Basically, it’s a no-brainer.

Ryan Maguire, General Manager for LittleBird—an integrated multifamily smart technology platform—says their clients have calculated as much as a 10x return on investment when purchasing a complete smart community system, benefitting from the multiple cost savings, revenue increases, and increased property value.

“Regular amenities can’t give you numbers like that,” Maguire said. “You’re not going to get a 10x return from a swimming pool, a dog park, or quartz countertops. Only smart technology can deliver those kinds of numbers.”

Integrated Smart Tech Platforms Outperforms Smaller Solutions

Developers are increasingly moving toward integrated smart technology platforms, (like LittleBird) that deliver a wide variety of smart tech solutions with a streamlined, integrated platform and a single app for residents.

LittleBird is unique among smart technology providers for residential communities, offering a complete, natively-integrated hardware and software solution while most other providers offer a piecemeal approach that requires attempting to get multiple vendors to play nicely together. Instead, LittleBird is a one-stop-shop solution to app and technology overload by providing everything in a single and simple resident mobile app called Smart Community. Smart Community brings together all the features of communication and smart device control that residential properties need, making it easier for residents and staff to interact with the benefits of LittleBird.

Maguire says developers are getting fed up with trying to pull together a smart tech solution from multiple different technologies. “These providers talk about how they integrate together as if it’s a feature, but really it’s a bug. Nobody wants to deal with multiple providers and deal with the finger-pointing game when things don’t work as promised. You shouldn’t need your smart home solution to talk to your access control solution. They should just all run on the same platform, with a single point of contact, a single invoice, and a single app experience for residents.”

Combining smart access control, smart home, and resident engagement features into a single app helps streamline operational expenses, simplifies life for property staff (saving time, reducing hassle, and increasing efficiency), and creates a user-friendly experience for residents.

Because smart tech is a bottom-line multiplier, the more developers invest in smart technology, the larger an impact they’ll see on net operating income and property value over time.

Increased Benefits Compared to Other Amenities

LittleBird reports that its customers are discovering a seemingly never-ending list of benefits from smart technology in their communities, ultimately leading to a significant impact on their net operating income and property values. Here are some examples of the surprising benefits they’ve seen so far.

Smart Access Control

Smart access control features include video intercom, smartphone credentials, resident directory, guest codes, etc.

  • Gain and keep residents by helping them feel safe
  • Increase security and reduce interpersonal conflicts with secure video intercom for guests and visitors.
  • Eliminate physical access fob costs with smartphone-based access
  • Reduce unwanted visitors by eliminating gate code sharing
  • Reduce domestic disturbances on the property
  • Reduce theft and damage
  • Quickly gather evidence with a full access report log
  • Save staff time through cloud-based access management

Smart Home / Smart Apartment Technology

Smart home technology includes resident-managed smart devices (lights, lock, thermostat, etc.) and smart sensors (motion sensor, door sensor, window sensor, etc.).

  • Charge higher rent by offering a more modern resident experience
  • Win new residents by offering a more competitive resident experience
  • Retain current residents through modern smart home features
  • Reduce theft and property damage
  • Save on energy costs through reduced consumption
  • Automatically reset lights, locks, and thermostat in vacant units
  • Reduce usage of physical keys
  • Restrict maintenance and contractor access to residential units
  • Increase resident safety and reduce conflicts with digital guest access to units

Smart Resident Engagement

  • Save staff time by including amenity details and managing reservations in the resident app
  • Increase revenue by charging amenity reservation fees through the resident app
  • Increase resident awareness and action with mobile announcements
  • Reduce costs and save time with mobile maintenance requests
  • Increase resident loyalty by getting them engaged in the local neighborhood
  • Keep residents connected to your community by giving them the tools to engage with other residents

Smart Technology is the New Standard

Residential community developers are finding that this powerful combination of benefits makes smart technology one of the most valuable amenities to install on their multifamily properties.

When you add to that a wave of new residents who have grown accustomed to having smart technology in their homes, you quickly see why residential communities are running out of excuses.

If you’d like to explore smart technology options for your own communities, you can visit LittleBird at https://golittlebird.com/