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Smart home tech isn't just for newer buildings

By Mike Wheatley | September 22, 2017

Landlords are facing increasing competition as they look to attract tenants to their properties, and one way they’re differentiating is through offering more amenities.

As well as traditional amenities like storage space, fitness centers, pools and rooftop gardens, some tenants are embracing smart home technology to help their properties stand out.

Smart home tech is increasingly in demand after all, as a growing number of people begin to appreciate the benefits of being able to optimize energy usage through automated sensors and smart thermostats. Also appealing are the security upgrades, such as video cameras and remote locking and unlocking. And things such as high-speed Wi-Fi are a must for any younger tenant. In addition, most tenants want a quick and easy way to be able to contact their landlords in the event of a problem.

But America’s housing faces a problem. Most of it is old, very very old in fact, with around 90 percent of its rental stock built before 1999, according to a 2011 Harvard University study. It’s a problem because it means that installing the latest smart home technologies in such buildings is challenging at best, and not something that the average property manager or landlord knows how to do.

Of course, it’s more than possible to retrofit older properties with modern amenities and technology. But the challenge for landlords is doing so in a cost-effective, relevant and expedient way.

The older the property is, the more difficult and expensive it will be to remodel and rewire the space. And smart home technologies typically demand a lot of rewiring – after all, occupancy sensors are easy enough to install, but they won’t do much good if there’s no network around to handle the load. Landlords will also need to consider how they can “future-proof” any retrofits they make, in order to handle future upgrades and spikes in demand.

The good news then is that some startups are beginning to offer solutions for older properties. One example is Bixby, which describes itself as an easy-to-use web & mobile platform to help facilitate communication, commerce, and convenience for the resident community.

Bixby helps property managers assist their tenants or residents with mobile work order requests and processing rent or common charge payments, while keeping everyone informed on building-related announcements and activities with push, email, and SMS notifications. Everything can be done on a mobile device, or on the desktop, making it super-convenient for tenants and landlords alike. Bixby also provides premium features for property owners and managers to create similar experiences to those offered at luxury properties, such as document sharing, luxury concierge and package arrival notifications.

As Bixby has proven, upgrading existing buildings with smart home technology does not have to be expensive or cause too many headaches. We’re rapidly reaching the point where technology can fulfill tenants’ demands for flexible, mobile communications while simultaneously providing easier and more affordable luxury services.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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