Ways to Retain Residents with New Technology


Floorplans, tile and carpet choices and color schemes done right can be eye candy for prospective residents when touring apartments. But there are other amenities that can leave powerful, lasting impressions with prospects.

Room temperature, door locks, irrigation and security systems that can be controlled by smartphones, plus water-saving devices, are some simple, readily accessible technologies that properties can leverage to help maintain residents and catch the attention of prospects. Scott Matthews, Director of Strategic Accounts for Atlanta-based Home Depot, says new technology that enables residents and the property complete control from the palms of their hands is making a difference in the apartment industry.

“Technology as an amenity can make a great first impression,” he said.

Matthews spoke with other panelists at the RealWorld property management conference July 26-28 about what technologies are making an impact, as well as how electronic purchasing platforms help enhance and streamline operations through online ordering.


“You’ve got technology and it’s all at your phone,” he said. “You can raise the temperature in the house, lower the temperature. I can do anything from that phone. I can unlock my door from my phone, and everybody is connected to their phone. Controlling your house or apartment with that technology is very popular now.”

Along with water- and energy-saving devices like low-flow toilets and LED light bulbs, new technology can help the bottom lines for both resident and property managers through utility savings.

Here are five examples of the latest technology that Matthews says can help boost the appeal of apartments:

Programmable thermostats

Nest Thermostat

A number of programmable smart thermostats that can be controlled from smart phones and tablets intuitively understand when to turn on heating or cooling systems based on the home’s energy profile, outside weather and other data points. Many are capable of helping to save up to $180 a year.

“For an apartment community, that’s a huge dollar amount to be able to pull back into the bottom line,” Matthews said.

Bluetooth-enabled door locks

A newer technology that’s gaining momentum, Bluetooth-enabled deadbolts allow residents and maintenance teams to more easily enter and secure the apartment using a phone or the fob, and just by touching the lock. Matthews said a plus for property managers is that the locks can be coded by resident to enhance security. Users can send and manage electronic keys via smartphone for anytime, scheduled and 24-hour guest access.

“More and more people are using that Bluetooth technology as a way to save time and money when re-keying locks,” Matthews said. “We’re seeing some great growth there.”

Wi-Fi intelligent irrigation controllers

For the maintenance team, smart irrigation controllers managed by iOS or Android devices allow remote system access any time. Cloud-based software manages the sprinkler system using weather data to create custom schedules that can save up to 15 percent on water usage. In about 30 minutes, a Wi-Fi intelligent controller can be hooked up to brain of the irrigation system.

Security systems with real time monitoring

Smart Home Technology

Apartment security systems that can be monitored from a smartphone or tablet are an added safety feature that is selling big and is relatively inexpensive, Matthews said. For about $400 per unit, an 8-channel surveillance system with cameras monitors inside the unit in real time.

“We’ve seen a good uptick in those,” Matthews said. “It’s definitely a big draw up front but definitely peace of mind that we’re seeing with the residents. How do we retain those residents? This is a big reason why they stay. They can monitor it on their phone in real time.”

Water- and energy-saving devices

Watersense® products and LED light bulbs are big sellers, Matthews said. Water-saver toilets, low-flow faucets and energy-saving lighting have become the norm in the industry, and residents can be turned off by apartments that don’t have those features.

“Residents want to save money,” Matthews said. “If you can go to the resident and say you have water-saver toilets and LED bulbs, that’s going to make a difference in the resident’s pocketbook. That really resonates well with them.”

Best of all, new technology on LEDs has improved lighting output and appearance. Along with smart phone-enabled devices that make for more comfortable living, apartments have an opportunity to make an impact that they didn’t have a few years ago, Matthews says.

“You can really drive that first impression.”

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

author photo two

Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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