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How technology can fuel the growth of Build to Rent

5 Jan 2023, by Amy Sarcevic

Australia’s supply of build to rent (BTR) housing stock is set to grow this year, with 7000 new units to be delivered by 2024. Demand for rental accommodation is also rebounding after a temporary setback during COVID-19. But as vacancies for other types of rental dwelling rise simultaneously, how can the BTR sector capture more of this demand?

Chris Efthimiou of Erin Living – a speaker at this year’s Build to Rent Conference – believes a focus on new technology could be the single best way to attract more residents into the sector. He says it can enhance the tenant experience – a central feature of the BTR offering.

“Within BTR, the quality of a resident’s experience is often everything. It’s what sets it apart from other types of rental accommodation. Features like greater security of tenure, lease flexibility, and better access to services or amenities are inherent in the BTR model.

“Naturally, providers that use technology to enhance the tenant experience further will gain a competitive advantage – over both other BTR providers and other types of landlord,” he said.

Unlocking BTR potential

Technology has already been widely adopted by the BTR sector and has a range of applications.

Within sales and marketing, it has enabled virtual property viewings, automated portal listings, digital lease management and payment handling.

Within building operations, it has given rise to smart locks and cameras, landlord management applications, noise and air quality sensors, instant fault reporting, and contactless elevators.

While each has made a valuable contribution to the sector, Chris believes technologies that help create an integrated tenant experience can make the most meaningful impact.

“The experience of living in an apartment block is often very fragmented. From the minute you sign your lease and move into the building, it is rare for your interactions with building management to be seamless.

“This fragmentation can show up in many ways – for example, when booking an amenity or organising a delivery. Within apartments, it is typical for people to receive deliveries in common areas without being notified, or having to contact an unreceptive building manager when reserving a shared space. This can be disengaging for residents and can put them off renewing their lease.”

Better catering for the consumer

Technology can provide a common platform for all operational functions relating to a BTR property. Applications, like that designed by Erin Living, can enable residents to interact seamlessly with both building managers and each other.

“You can book an amenity, organise a cleaner, connect with your community and meet new people all through a single app. There is also a smart access feature which allows tenants to turn their phone into a mobile key.

“It integrates the tenant experience and solves the issue of fragmentation, which often presents itself as inconvenience or a sense of disconnection for the resident,” Chris said.

The value of experience

Multiple indices highlight the value of user experience within the BTR model.

Statistics have shown that people are happy to pay higher rents for apartments equipped with Smart Control devices. Additionally, Erin Living’s application has a tenant engagement rate of 90 percent.

More generally, enhanced user experience is becoming more important to consumers across all sectors. Research has projected that the experience economy is set to be worth $12 billion by 2023.

“It’s a massive market and clearly an important thing to get right. With such a strong focus on user experience in other sectors, consumer expectations (especially around integration) are becoming higher and BTR will need to keep pace, regardless of what the rental market is doing.

“Statistics aside, it makes sense for developers to remember the finishing touches of what they produce. Putting nice shiny buildings together and then forgetting how people interact with them is a waste of potential,” Chris concluded.

Chris Efthimiou is a Sales Director at Erin Living – a resident experience company that enables effortless living in multi-dwelling built environments. ‍

Chris is due to present at the Build to Rent Conference hosted by Informa Connect, where he will talk more about the research surrounding tenant experience and his recommendations for a thriving BTR sector.

The event will be held 15 February 2023 at the Rendezvous Hotel Melbourne.

Learn more and register your place here.


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