The rise of artificial intelligence in property management efficiency.
By: Mahzabeen M. Alam
Imagine being able to stop a problem before it even happens: that’s the dream, right? We’d all love to foresee a disaster before it occurs so we can take action and prevent it. Well, artificial intelligence (AI) does exactly that—making science fiction a reality.
Take rental listings, tenant applications and inspections—these are just a few of the stressors building managers face on a daily basis. Juggling the various nuances involved in successfully running a building requires skills and resources. Luckily for this generation’s crop of property managers, AI is here to help. Pesky maintenance forms and company finances are more readily available and manageable than ever before with the help of technology.
But what exactly is AI? When most think of the phrase, their minds immediately jump to Haley Joel Osment’s 2001 film, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence,” or perhaps any Ray Bradbury story. But the reality of AI is much less dramatic and a lot subtler than pop culture would have us believe. Mediums such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home are AIs that are in our homes already, helping us carry out basic tasks. But they’re not just tools that listen to our commands and answers our questions. They’re software that anticipates our needs and makes suggestions.
For instance, technology such as Buildium has progressively helped in improving internal operations by organizing information and tracking to-do lists. The technology systematically takes in information received and files it in a comprehensible and cohesive manner that gives rise to increased productivity. This process not only saves time and money but also fosters business opportunities. The more advanced the daily mechanics are, the more time property managers can direct their attention to more pressing matters.
Zenplace, another AI software, uses algorithms to determine the life expectancy of certain appliances and the time frame in which it may require maintenance. For example, water leaks can be anticipated after Zenplace measures the usage and wear to calculate the estimated time a leak may occur. This gives owners a heads-up and offers solutions to alleviate or resolve the issue entirely. In addition to anticipating repairs, Zenplace utilizes Google to help managers track down optimal tenants. This cuts down on vacancy time as the AI works quickly and is at the ready to fill the space; as soon as there is a vacancy, the software weeds through applicants and use an algorithm to determine the best-suited renter. When the time inevitably comes for a renter to discuss issues, an AI-powered service connects renters to a chatbox and devices like Google Home, where they can quickly pay their rent and send maintenance requests at any time, day or night.
Major companies like Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) have already taken advantage of AI property bots during a trial period to enhance its management service. Partnering with EBI.AI, the company has created a virtual property manager to act as a middleman for tenants. Within 30-second span, tenants can make a request through a messaging service or app that issues an instant automatic reply, offering either assistance or the option to book an appointment with an engineer. Since the bot exists in a cloud, mediums such as Amazon’s Alexa, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp can be used as a form of communication. This access to assistance lets property managers to focus more on creating a better overall experience for their renters.
The success of mobile apps in increasing productivity has let software companies invest more money into equipment and continue the upward trend in efficiency. With technology continuing to be a prolific and ubiquitous aspect of today’s society, it’s natural that property managers should take advantage—especially now that the world of property management has proven to be a lucrative field, as is demonstrated by its growth into a 73-million-dollar industry. Technology needs to keep up with the surge, with AI in the picture, it will be an ever-evolving playing field.