From September 12th - 14th 2022, Blueprint held their annual gathering for over 2,000 innovative and leading real estate tech startups, venture capitalists, and industry executives. This jam-packed 4 day excursion included educational panel discussions, plenty of networking, and transformative technology that is shaping the future of the industry.
Meeting the Expectations of the Modern Day Renter was one of the panel discussions which took place, and was led and moderated by Eric Roseman Moderator and Chief Revenue Officer of Xeal energy . The full panel featured tech and real estate leaders including:
Jessica Beck - COO & Co-Founder of Alfred
Brandon Chinn - Head of Innovation for Greystar
Alex Samoylovich - Co-CEO and Founder of Livly
Sara Shank - Global Head of Innovation for PGIM Real Estate
Renters in 2022 versus renters in 2012
What major changes have operators and owners needed to adapt with compared to the needs of renters only one decade ago? Eric Roseman kicked off the session by painting the contrast of the modern renter, versus the dynamics of a renter 10 years ago.
Alex Samoylovich opened the response by discussing how the shifting environment in which renters currently live accelerated the most post-covid. With remote work now prevalent more than ever, it’s critical for building designers to keep in mind that our living spaces now function beyond utility and operate as an ecosystem with cross-functional uses. Keeping in mind this concept and carrying it as an extension of it across the rest of the building with consideration for utilization for flex works, and adjusting the utilization of fitness & wellness as amenity spaces is something for developers and designers to examine, he noted.
From an operations standpoint, the target becomes how to better activate spaces.
The final component of technology ties the previous considerations all together, bridging the gap between the owner and resident needs.
Community is key
Jessica Beck brought in the renter's perspective with the most relevant concern at the forefront. With the current market rates 77% higher than median national rent, renters are going to look for greater value outside of just 4 walls. How do you make 4 walls feel like a home ? The answer her team has found, is through creating community. With approaches that utilize hybrid opportunities to engage both virtually and in person, every layer of interaction within an apartment building becomes more cohesive.
Sara Shank with PGIM agreed with Beck in the sentiment of cultivating community, elaborating further. Beyond the modern day renter, its imperative for real estate as a whole to consider all product types - whether it be an office, senior housing, or a retail space; different technologies and their efficiencies to the renter are key for top-of-mind innovators. Simple amenities and services including EV charging, ability to easily sign-on new leases, and tools to make the lives of tenants easier in turn help the landlord uniting residents and property managers in a harmonious common ground.
The spaghetti that doesn’t stick
Eric Roseland inquired on honest failures each panel member has seen in their respective experiences. Brandon Chinn cautioned the loss of oversight that can occur when property managers and operators hyper-focus on creative ideas while forgetting the basic essentials their renters need. For instance, if you consider smart access, make sure it works. If you focus on motorized blinds but your renters can’t get into front door, that’s an issue.
Data is a common misstep for many, Shank stressed. If companies don’t allow for integrations and data extractions, failure is imminent. Apps and solutions that remain siloed are of the past and not the future. When considering your programming, every component of your tech should be malleable to a bigger ecosystem.
Package management has been a challenge for most, Samoylovich added. Package lockers in particular, and their capabilities leave a lot of room for improvement on the table, dependent on whether it be in a Class A, B or C building.
Rent-to-own and other trending renter demographics
An audience generated inquiry probed panelists thoughts around ownership as an option to renters. Shank noted that legality concerns certainly would come into play, making it a very delicate situation. However an upside to the concept was the approach of innovators looking to create technology to helps renters build their credit score back and offer rewards to assist towards ownership, but Shank stressed that building ownership in the asset itself - the restructure, and taxes can pose a lot of challenges.
Samoylovich agreed that consumer laws will certainly come into play on deceptive practices, as and as just one example, deceptive ownership via tokenization. Although the legal side posed challenges, several existing valid companies who allow extensions for renting to ownership can create an interesting dynamic to watch unfold in the coming years.
The discussion ended strong with a thought posed by Beck. How we help renters generate wealth? In the eyes of the prospective renter, it can feel as though you are leaving wealth generation on the table. Owners and operators can combat this idea by delivering the ways in which renting with their apartment communities can be a more wealth generating experience. With the cost of home ownership today higher than ever, a greater focus on the affordability of renting over owning a home can in many situations allows for greater freedom, flexibility, and a higher, more luxurious standard of living.
Did you have a chance to preview this full discussion either live or after the conference? If so, what were your thoughts? Feel free to preview our recap video above with our favorite highlights, and share with us in the comments!