PropTech's Biggest Questions, Solutions, and Connections from NMHC OPTECH 2022

Multifamily leaders recently explore the evolution of rental housing technology in Last Vegas



The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) held their annual technology focused OPTECH Conference and Exposition in early November, 2022. About 2,500 rental housing owners, managers, and suppliers met at the Wynn in Las Vegas, Nevada to explore all things PropTech for multifamily real estate. While attendance was large enough to be record-breaking, it remained small enough to feel like an intimate gathering. The conference experience can be summarized in three words: curiosity, caution, and connection.




Curiosity

The OPTECH conference education agenda provides insight into the subjects that are top of mind for forward-thinking property management operators. Based on the educational offerings and the conversations happening throughout the convention center, both formal and informal, here are the PropTech topics and trends multifamily leaders are most curious about:


· Data integrity, privacy, and cybersecurity

· Intelligent buildings and smart home tech

· Access control for both buildings and individual units/homes

· 5G, bulk, and managed Wi-Fi

· Smart maintenance solutions including utility management, leak detection, and other so-called “climate tech”

· PropTech impact on the prospect and resident experience

· Tech-powered centralization, particularly of the sales/leasing function

· EV charging solutions and parking management

· Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its application to leasing and operations

· Technology integration, deployment, and management


Questions

The level of enthusiasm for PropTech innovation and solutions in Las Vegas was exciting. Amidst the curiosity, there were also candid conversations around risks, challenges, and frustrations of choosing, implementing, and managing multifamily technology. Here are questions rental housing tech leaders explored together:


· How to manage the technology stack, including discussions around bundled solutions versus hand-picked, best-in-breed suppliers

· Integration of different solutions and the continued search for the plug-and-play ideal

· How to successfully deploy of technology initiatives, especially beyond the pilot program

· The intersection of smart home tech with data privacy concerns

· The ever-changing complexity of achieving seamless Internet connectivity across communities and portfolios

· Achieving and maintaining clean, consistent, safe, and useful data

· The impact regulatory trends will have on multifamily owners, operators, and suppliers

· How to choose from a disorienting array of solutions and service providers; some owner/managers may feel overwhelmed by a bounty of choices

· What impact will current economic uncertainty have on our businesses




Connection

The three days in Las Vegas were made most valuable by the willingness of conference attendees to share their experiences—good, bad, and ugly—to help their colleagues in their technology exploration and decision-making process.


The conference sessions featured operators from all asset types, ranging from publicly held REITs to regional operators, and PropTech supplier partners to provide the full array of stakeholder perspectives. All presenting panelists were refreshingly candid in their storytelling on stage and open to audience questions. Conversations between panelists and attendees dribbled over into the hallway after sessions wrapped or continued on in the various meeting places throughout the hotel.


An emphasis was placed on networking with colleagues in the OPTECH Exchange. Comfortable spaces were set up for meetings both planned and impromptu. The conference app had a useful feature allowing attendees to set up their profile and interests to be matched with colleagues interested in the same topics. Peer to Peer Roundtable sessions let owner/managers learn from each other’s experiences. And in the EXPO hall, exhibitors showed off their solutions while making valuable connections with prospects and other multifamily supplier partners. The camaraderie of the shared experiences between tech-forward suppliers and tech-focused owner/manager attendees is a differentiator from other events.


At the conclusion of the event, organizers announced that OPTECH will return to the Wynn in Las Vegas in fall of 2023. The Livly team is already looking forward to it.