Residents of student housing have a tendency to be early-adopters of new technologies and generally can be considered one of the more tech-savvy multi-family segments. For this reason, the student housing industry often introduces some cutting-edge resident technologies that often pave the way for advances in other multifamily markets.
Over the past decade, student housing has emerged as an industry leader; not only for investment potential, but also for introducing improved resident experiences through emerging technologies.
Here are some highlights of the newest technology related trends in student housing and the impact they are having in the market.
1. Virtual Reality Tours & Third-Party Apartment Viewing Services:
For out-of-state or out-of-country students, sometimes renting sight unseen is a reality they must begrudgingly accept. This is an uncertain experience filled with ambiguity, whereby a student must rent a place without ever seeing it. A way to solve this problem can be through a service such as Squeakly.
Squeakly will view an apartment on a tenant’s behalf and provide feedback through an extremely detailed report which can include property assessments, floor-plan layouts, virtual reality tours and more. This eliminates all the guesswork for students who are unable to actually go and view an apartment or home themselves.
2. Digital Lease Agreements:
Students have a tendency to prefer to do most functions online, whether it is online banking, social networking or any other activity. When it comes to lease agreements, it’s much more convenient for a student to sign the lease online instead of in person, such as using digital lease agreements.
Services like Pen.Do have introduced digital lease agreements, which simplify the leasing process for both students and landlords or property managers. Say so long to paper leases!
3. Incentive-based Online Rent Payments & Collections:
While online rent payments aren’t exactly new, they’re starting to grow in popularity; especially within the student housing sector. Previously, we’ve discussed that most students don’t even know how to write a check and often prefer other methods of paying rent. Online rent payments are convenient and easy; in many cases the preferred method of payment for students. According to a NMHC survey, 78% of respondents indicated they preferred to pay their rent online. Of those respondents, 64% preferred to pay with a credit card.
RentMoola has enabled both private-owner landlords and larger property management companies with the ability to process their rent payments and security deposits online. Adding to the convenience, RentMoola also operates MoolaPerks, which gives incentives and rewards to tenants for paying their rent online through the service.
4. Mobile Inspections:
Turn-season can be particularly hectic for student housing providers and conducting inspections can be a time-consuming process. Mobile inspections allow maintenance and property management teams the ability to speed up the inspection and reporting process through easy to navigate software.
Services like StrataVox offer communication and maintenance solutions for the property management industry that include the necessary tools for mobile inspections.
5. Transportation & Ride-Sharing Services:
With many students depending on transit or ride-sharing as their primary mode of transportation, outside of walking, some communities have begun to introduce various transportation amenities. For example, transit screens in apartment lobbies are being introduced which show detailed information about bus/train schedules, taxi wait times and more.
Ride-sharing services like ZipCar have also had success in purpose-built student housing communities surrounding schools, such as University of Michigan and University of Waterloo. ZipCar allows students to rent a car for hours or days at a time, for very affordable rates covering gas and insurance costs.
6. Study Spaces or Group Meeting Rooms:
Study spaces are often overshadowed by more luxurious amenities such as lavish fitness facilities, recreational rooms and pools. While these amenities have great marketing value, study spaces have become increasingly important to both student renters and their parents.
Student housing communities like the Callaway House at University of Texas boast an academic center fully equipped with iMacs, free printing, various study areas and lounges, free Wi-Fi hotspots and much more.
SEE ALSO: Student Housing 2.0 – What Will The Future of Student Housing Look Like?
The Places4Students.com Team