Agents of Tech

The Antiquated Apartment Rental Experience Is Getting A Much-Needed Tech Makeover

A fully-furnished and tech-enabled Blueground apartment in Boston located at 63 Melcher St.  

The immediacy with which today’s professionals live, work and shop has infiltrated the apartment rental process. No longer do renters on the hunt for their future home want to deal with antiquated and out-of-date processes. Gone are the days of mind-numbing paperwork, countless calls, in-person meetings with brokers and property managers to arrange unit viewings and sign leases. Millennials and Gen-Z account for a large number of renters in today’s market, and these young professionals demand a rental experience infused with technology. They want to seamlessly expedite the process. Below are four ways technology is doing just that:

Finding Available Listings
When it comes to apartment rentals, more and more residents are looking for management companies that have a tech component. This is no longer an afterthought or an amenity — it’s a necessity. Tech-driven companies such as Trulia, Apartments.com, Zumper and Blueground have all but eliminated the need to contact brokers. You can forget about scouring the newspaper to find available listings for rent. Today, owners and property managers can partner with third-party listing services to market their vacant properties and connect directly with tentative renters. Having to rely strictly on brokers to find properties for rent can be an arduous process. However, with technology putting available listings at renters’ fingertips, it’s drastically cutting down on the hours spent hunting down brokers to liaise with property owners.

Making Virtual Apartment Tours a Reality
Augmented and virtual reality tech is becoming more sophisticated and widely-adopted in the commercial real estate industry. This technology allows prospective renters to take virtual tours of vacant units from their computers and mobile devices — all without leaving the comforts of home. Just as potential homebuyers can tour available listings and close deals by taking 3D immersive tours powered by Matterport (the world leader in 3D capture technology and data), companies like Engrain are providing similar experiences for renters with interactive mapping and data visualization tools. This technology allows prospective renters to virtually walk through properties as if they were there in-person.

Securing Furnished, Tech-Enabled Housing at the Click of a Button
In major cities like San Francisco, New York, Boston and Los Angeles, renters often have to fork over a small fortune just to secure an apartment. According to RENTCafe, the average rental rate for a 1-bedroom apartment in San Francisco is about $3,600. Add to that the cost of moving expenses, new furniture and decor, internet and cable connectivity, etc. and the average renters are looking at spending hundreds of dollars in additional moving and furnishing expenses.

To alleviate the headache and reduce the costs associated with living in a big city like San Francisco, some landlords have taken to renting out fully-furnished apartments to the masses by partnering with companies like Blueground. The real estate tech company specializes in offering premium, fully-furnished apartments on a medium and long-term basis starting with a minimum of 30 days. Blueground apartments come not only furnished but also with all utilities pre-connected (such as high-speed internet), so renters can simply show up and start living. Once the online reservation is made, guests have access to ongoing support and information via the Blueground app. With the touch of a button, they can arrange housekeeping, request maintenance, learn about the neighborhood or simply contact the Client Experience team. The company leases more than 150 apartments in top San Francisco neighborhoods like Rincon Hill, SoMa, Hayes Valley and Nob Hill, as well as in major metros including New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Submitting Maintenance Requests, Rent Payments all via Online Portals
In today’s rental market, it’s no longer just about the size and cost of the unit. Greater emphasis has been placed on the amenities and services owners can provide, as well as their ability to create a sense of community among tenants. From an amenities standpoint, the apartment services that landlords provide today are beginning to resemble those offered in the hospitality and lodging sector. For instance, the ability to make payments and submit maintenance requests through an online portal like with financial technology company Obligo — which works with tenants, brokers, owners and operators to render cash deposits and paper checks obsolete. Another increasingly common amenity is the ability to arrange housekeeping and schedule daycare services. With millennials accounting for the largest number of renters in the U.S., and Generation Z following close at their heels, the properties in greatest demand will be those infused with tech. Soon this will no longer be an afterthought for owners and operators, but a priority required by tenants.

Peter Herman, Regional GM – Western US
Peter is the Regional Manager of Blueground Western US and has over 10 years of experience in strategy development and management. Previously, he led the global Sales Operations team at Zero Motorcycles, which is the leading global electric motorcycle manufacturer. Prior to that, Peter spent six years at The Boston Consulting Group, supporting C-level executives in strategy development, operations, turnarounds, and PMI. Peter has a Master’s degree in Finance and an MBA from INSEAD.

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