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Top 4 Ways Owners & Operators Can Manage Vacancies

Vacant Units Article Blog Hero1 FINAL 01 13 2023440x8301 FINAL 01 13 2023

Managing vacant units is a constant concern for owners and operators. If poorly managed, owners can squander money through lost rent, wasted energy costs, and turnover expenses. And the potential for theft, vandalism, and water damage are all higher with vacant units. Without proper prioritization, the associated financial losses and risks can really impact an owner’s NOI.

To minimize these losses and make the process of managing vacant units easier, more owners are utilizing smart technology. By implementing smart thermostats, access control, and leak detectors, smart technology platforms help owners save energy, increase safety and convenience, prevent water damage, and more - all in vacant units.

Let’s break down the benefits of each of these technologies.

Smart Thermostats Save Energy

Unattended vacant units cost garden-style properties around $300 per unit per year in utilities. Even with a historically low multifamily turnover rate of 42.8% (data from 2021), that still works out to a lot of money lost to wasted energy. Without implementing a system that oversees the utility status of every unit in the community, property managers are left to manually adjust every vacant unit as circumstances require.

Smart technology platforms allow property managers to monitor and adjust the thermostat settings for any unit remotely. Set every vacant unit to a desired temperature and instantly alter it when necessary, like before a showing or maintenance visit. The money saved using a system like this adds up fast. Level communities save approximately $38 in energy per vacant unit per month.

Access Control Increases Safety and Convenience

Multiple industry sources, including Multifamily Insiders, confirm that properties with access control are less likely to be targeted by perpetrators. And knowing that vacant units can have an increased risk of vandalism and theft, it’s understandable why access control is the most in-demand smart technology in multifamily. It gives property managers full control (and logs) of who enters a unit, when, and for what reason. No keys are required, only digital permission, which can instantly be granted or revoked by property managers.

In addition to enhancing security, access control provides incredible property access convenience to residents and authorized parties. Level communities save an estimated 200 hours of staff time per community per year, a large percentage of which would be spent managing vacant units.

Leak Sensors Prevent Water Damage

Water damage insurance claims nationwide reached $2.5 billion in 2021 and represented more than a trillion gallons of wasted water. Vacant units and properties account for much of these amounts as they have a much higher risk of water damage. Undetected leaks not only cause property damage, but they present a number of health risks stemming from mold and mildew, chemical hazards, and injuries from slipping or electrocution.

Leak sensors integrated with a smart technology platform notify property managers in real-time so maintenance can fix the issue before catastrophic damage occurs. These sensors can be placed on or near plumbing fixtures like sinks, toilets, water heaters, or anywhere that represents a potential leak spot. They can even be used to detect roof leaks.

Level communities prevent an average of four water damage events per year, saving untold amounts of money in damages. Effective leak mitigation is estimated to reduce water damage claims by 97%.

Self-Guided Tours Decrease Vacancies

Self-guided tours were fast-tracked during Covid to meet social distancing requirements. But even after restrictions were raised, the popularity of this new practice never waned. According to MHN, self-guided touring and other forms of automated leasing strategies “enhances the entire apartment search experience, provides a higher caliber of customer services, and attracts and retains residents.” They also stated these features “reduce the time it takes prospective residents to go from interested to committed.” Venterra Realty, a Texas-based ownership group, “reduced that time by 50% on average” across its portfolio since implementing interactive leasing resources.

At Level, self-guided tours are an integral part of our smart technology platform. It’s also important to understand that the presence of a smart technology platform on the property is itself a significant draw for potential tenants. Recent polls reveal that the majority of residents today expect smart tech in their apartment, and that these features increase their interest in a community.

Conclusion

Owners and operators are implementing smart technology in their communities at an ever-increasing rate. The positive effects it has on vacant unit management is a big reason why. The energy saved, security increased, damage prevented, and vacancies filled provide owners with peace of mind as well as increased NOI. Owners, operators, and property managers have an endless list of things to worry about. Let a smart technology platform ease the burdens of vacant unit management so you can direct your focus elsewhere.

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