RealWorld 2021, “The Yield Awakens” roused the apartment industry, just a two-step away from where some of the world’s greatest musicians pioneer new sounds. Like so many who have moved the music industry forward on the big stage, RealPage set a new course for the apartment industry at the return of its annual in-person industry conference.
The three-day conference in July at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland shined a light ahead for apartment leaders who successfully braved the past year’s challenges and are now entering a new age of multifamily housing management and investing.
RealPage’s outgoing CEO Steve Winn summed it up by saying the apartment industry now has a perfectly orchestrated technology solution to navigate apartment management today and in the future.
Mr. Winn set the stage at the opening session by introducing new CEO Dana Jones, who brings over two decades of experience leading and growing global enterprise software businesses. He then took attendees on a tour of the new P2 Peak Performance Tech Stack, which rolled out to the accompaniment of the RealPage Symphony Orchestra.
The crescendo, the theme from Stars Wars, stirred “the Force” that will awaken massive yield on the new frontier of apartment operations.
The P2 Peak Performance Tech Stack comprises bundles of the company’s proven solutions that enables assets to outperform their peer groups by 600-900 basis points. Eight themed suites work in unison to drive higher yields and eliminate the complexity of unintegrated stand-alone property management solutions.
In the entertaining tradition of RealWorld opening sessions, the quirky R2D2 joined Mr. Winn for the big announcement. The punchy robot was so smitten by the bundle of technology that he insisted on changing his name to RUP2.
Remarkable achievements in multifamily housing solutions
RealPage’s latest offerings arrive at a time when the multifamily housing industry is successfully emerging from the unthinkable.
RealPage Deputy Economist Jay Parsons pointed to remarkable achievements gained by marrying essential people with essential technologies during the most challenging time in the history of the multifamily business. “Have you realized what you have accomplished since last March when the economy first shut down?” he asked more than 800 attendees on the final day.
The state of the U.S. apartment market by every available measure is far stronger than it was 12 months ago, he said. Consider that U.S. apartment occupancy is at 96.5%, the highest rate in 30 years, and the industry’s absorption of 500,000 apartment units in last 12 months shattered the previous high by 22%.
Fueling these increases is a robust for-sale housing market, which historically benefits apartment leasing.
“We got there because of an absolutely massive wave of demand for apartments combined with incredible execution by your teams,” Parsons said.
Amazingly, he noted, rent collection was off only 0.4 percentage points over 11 million units for the past year. Also, incomes have been quickly bouncing back to all-time highs in 2021, pushing true rent growth to the unprecedented rate of 14%.
And, he said, “Throughout all craziness, (online reputation assessment) scores actually improved. That’s truly remarkable.”
Takeaways from P2 Peak Performance Solutions
More than 800 attendees who turned out for one of the apartment industry’s first in-person events learned how components of the P2 Peak Performance Tech Stack improve revenues and reduce expenses at every turn.
- Renter Engagement: Crowds flocked to the unveiling of the first stage in a major ActiveBuilding Resident Portal redesign that gives resident and staff a more modern, mobile-first experience, with everything they need at their fingertips.
“We want the resident, from the moment they sign a lease, to feel like ActiveBuilding is the digital extension of their home,” said Mike Ivey, VP of Living Suite Product Management.
The redesign, developed as part of a new user research initiative, gives tenants easier access to more information and community services while giving property managers additional opportunities to improve efficiency, grow ancillary revenue and boost loyalty.
- Virtual Living: Through Community Rewards, properties can engage residents, improve their online reputations and generate more revenue per property.
Rich Hughes, Head of Data Science, and John Hinkley, Senior Vice President, Living Suite revealed the results of a three-year study with J. Turner Research that confirms that high Online Reputation Assessment (ORA) scores drive increased revenue.
The duo said they were “taken aback by the power of reputation.”
- Asset Optimization: Attendees experienced how the data available through business intelligence helps properties navigate any business climate by signaling operators about market and operational changes. A panel of clients said they’ve been relying on alerts tied to key performance indicators within RealPage’s Business Intelligence (BI) platform to navigate changing conditions triggered by the pandemic and the normal ebb and flow of business.
When rent collections were receiving so much attention early in the pandemic, one panelist set up delinquency alerts so past-due rents were easily identifiable. The alerts provided real-time information on the true condition of collections for the portfolio and allowed the panelist to take immediate action.
- Home Sharing: Residents and operators can enjoy the benefits of apartment sharing through a comprehensive product suite with integrated services to conduct, manage and monitor activity on Airbnb.
Migo by RealPage, which made its debut at RealWorld, enables owners to boost NOI in prime locations by up to $400 to $600 per unit, per year. Migo’s DIY and managed home sharing platforms can generate extra income for residents to offset rent or simply provide a little extra spending money. The solution features a clean, intuitive interface for owners, a rich mobile experience for residents, and the ability to sync effortlessly with resident portals or function as a stand-alone app.
- Smart Building: In the Hall of Solutions, the Tiny House, a rolling display of smart apartment technology, offered a first-hand look at bridging operational service gaps and maximizing energy efficiencies through Stratis Smart Building.
Attendees walked through the custom-built home and learned how smart apartment systems like locks, thermostats, lighting, utilities, Wi-Fi and other IoT devices work in harmony.
- Utility Management: New solutions are leveraging submeter technology and AI to help multifamily properties drastically reduce the cost of managing water, waste and energy. Attendees heard how these solutions are saving properties tens of thousands of dollars in wasted energy and water costs through features that quickly detect and notify site teams about leaks and consumption anomalies.
- Virtual Tours: Since bursting on the scene, virtual apartment tours have become the new norm in driving the prospect journey and leasing experience. Going forward, they are seen as not only a way to introduce prospects to a community without touring in person but also as a way for renters to narrow down their choices.
A panel of student renters unanimously agreed that virtual tours are good for narrowing their options before touring properties in person and meeting with a leasing agent.
- Workforce Optimization: Since the onset of COVID-19, the apartment industry has had to learn to be more efficient with fewer resources – including employees. An industry that traditionally hovers around 33% in staff turnover has also experienced an overall reduction in staff.
- Successful apartment operators are tapping into the restaurant and hospitality industries for a new generation of workers. One panelist said they know how to work hard, and the apartment industry can offer them better pay and less of a grind.
The encore: Virtual RealWorld 2021
RealWorld 2021, “The Yield Awakens” roused the apartment industry with the tools for apartment operators to orchestrate higher yields and deliver the ultimate renter experience, creating new synergies between prospects and properties.
For those who could not make the conference, there will be an encore: Virtual RealWorld 2021, “The Yield Awakens” online Sept, 20-21.
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