RealManage Insight

Modern Tech | Automation and Today’s Homeowners Associations

by Guest Blogger on Apr 27, 2021 9:45:00 AM

If you are like us, the term “technology” can seem a bit intimidating. When you view it in the context of an HOA community, however, tech becomes just another way of getting things done around your property. One of the better ways, in fact. Let’s explore this insight in more detail below.

 Modern Technology and the Quest for Greater Convenience

 Whether we are talking about property managers or HOA board members, maintenance personnel, or residents, all of us are living fast lives filled with many responsibilities. Modern life is a 24/7 gig after alland whether you live in a condo or home, apartment, or another type of housing our days stay jam-packed!

 In the course of being responsible and getting things done for ourselves and others, we are always looking for ways to make things more convenient. It just seems to make sense. We seem to instinctively “get” that with greater convenience comes greater overall efficiency. And, with greater overall efficiency, we open ourselves up to an entire lineup of perks like more money and more free time. Not surprisingly then, modern tech is currently leading us to these better outcomes much more efficiently, offering us greater convenience in (literally) every aspect of our lives.

 For us, it is the convenience that tech offers in terms of housing that perks our ears up. Let’s first consider the relationship between technology, automation, and conveniencefrom here our point will soon begin to emerge. (After this, we will explain how all of these three facets can be leveraged by those who have a vested interest in housing communities).

Why Automating (Just About) Everything Just Makes Sense

In our quest for greater efficiency and convenience, the concept of automation becomes key. The term “automation” refers to a wide range of technologies that reduce human intervention in processes. This “lack of human intervention”, of course, frees up time for us to do the things we want to do. And isn’t that what life is all about?

Automation Examples

Some examples of automation in action include automated texting apps, robotic gas pumps, self-driving and self-parking vehicles, and waiter-less automated restaurants (yes, you heard it here first).

 There are also the more familiar forms of everyday automation like car insurance renewals and customer support. Interestingly, the type of modern automation processes mentioned above solves problems associated with industries that are as diverse as automotive and the restaurant business. These problems, of course, include a lack of time and/or manpower or staffing that all industries seem to experience at one time or another. And while technology and automation have long been present in sectors like manufacturing (think of the phrase “assembly line”), multiplying the amount of work that is able to get done, these processes are now starting to shine brightlyand make life so much easierfor those who occupy multifamily communities and other types of housing. Of course, automation also makes life easier for the personnel who run key groups like homeowner’s associations.

 Modern Technology and Today’s HOA Communities (How Tech Solves Many of Your Property-Specific Problems)

 Rental housing units (especially those that form the basis of multifamily community properties) are hotbeds for problems that require immediate solutions. Just think of the average day-in-the-life of a property manager or HOA board member.

 Each day, those who are in charge of housing communities have to solve problems that range from the upkeep and maintenance of their building’s units to ensuring the safety and security of the people who live on the premises. And with the average housing community being made up of dozens of homes and an even larger number of residents, there are a lot of problems needing to be solved. As you probably already know, solutions simply cannot wait!

 HOA board members, in particular, need to solve problems like collecting dues and resolving various conflicts. Here too, modern technologyand automation in particularcan be your “go-to problem solver.” Collecting HOA members’ dues becomes easier through automatic reminders and online depositing, for instance. And don’t forget that, HOA members have been relying on on-site video cameras for some time now.

Tech like this allows us to keep track of various issues that occur on-site. In fact, tech provides for all kinds of better outcomes when it comes to residential environmentsespecially when these properties are being run as a business. Just think of all the technology that powers the property manager’s office! But what if you could take the efficiency that these technological touchpoints provide even further?

One Helpful Little Phrase

What if there was a type of technology with the intelligence that allowed for a greater ability to get things done? Could it even allow you to avoid the intrusiveness of video cameras? For this, you need only look to the helpful little phrase “smart home technology.”

What is Smart Home Technology and Why is it Important?

Like you, technology isn’t sitting still. In fact, it is always speeding ahead and in recent times, tech has gotten even smarter. You can see this “higher I.Q.” reflected in products like smart home devices. Smart home devices are helpful tools that leverage technology to optimize homes and properties. They include security/safety devices like motion and entry sensors, remote/keyless entry devices like keypads where you punch in a code to enter your home, and smart water leak detection systems that mitigate disasters.

Moreover, all of these devices connect to the internet and can be used to monitor and manage the home remotely, using a simple phone application. Think of it this way: just as iOS and Android connect us to just about all of our daily tasks, they now also connect us to our most important asset—our homes. To be sure, smart devices (which add up to a “smart home” concept) solve many long-standing pain points associated with building management. Here is how this technology helps a wide range of key people.

Groups That Smart Technology Helps

  • Homeowners Associations - HOA members appreciate how smart tech offers them non-intrusive safety and security solutions (smart motion and entry sensors for instance). These products aid in conflict resolution while streamlining individual units and properties.  
  • Property Owners - This group of people also finds smart devices to be helpful with property oversight/conflict management. Smart alerts from multiple smart home devices can be synced to property managers’ cell phones, enabling a quick response to potential disasters and/or security concerns.
  • Residents - Research suggests that residents are willing to pay a premium to enjoy their new, upgraded amenities and feel more secure in the smart home space.
  • Rising Demand - On the strength of this demand for smart home amenities, smart home devices are on an upward trajectory, with the total amount of devices shipped per year forecasted to increase to 1.5 million by 2024.

Smart Home Technology and the Business Side of Running a Property

As most homeowner associations are non-profit corporations, their board members are concerned with many of the same things that businesses are. These matters include resolving time and money conflicts, as well as ensuring the safety and security of all residents. Here is a synopsis (in the form of a quick story) about the role that smart technology plays in solving these problems.

It is told from the perspective of various board members who have gathered around the table for a mandatory monthly meeting. The problems they are discussing are two-fold and include

  1.  Updating their residences’ security features to avoid problems before they have the chance to occur
  2.  Keeping on top of the upkeep of the community’s common areas

Less than two minutes into the “hi-how-have-you-been” part of the meeting, the board’s Vice President leans in and says “we’ve been having a lot of unwanted guests on the property recently. It’s starting to become a real cause for concern.” From here, one of the board members puts an exclamation mark on the VP’s early, sober assessment of the situation: “Look, we all live here. None of us wants random people wandering around our community taking mental notes for when they plan to come back and do who-knows-what.” A third member suggests video camera surveillance as a potential solution to this widespread concern, but this option is quickly voted down as being overly intrusive.

“I think the answer is to equip the propertyto include each of our individual homeswith the type of technology that avoids the intrusiveness of video cameras. For instance, I know that there are products on the market right now that can send alerts right to residents’ and board members’ phones should any unwanted guests show up on the property. I believe they’re called smart motion and entry sensors.”

The members are on board with the type of assurances that smart technology can provide them. From here, their attention turns to the common areas of their community and how their upkeep is starting to slip below the agreed-upon operating standards. The water leaks coming from the decorative water fountains located at the front of the property are beginning to hurt the community’s curb appeal. There must be an issue with the property’s pressure reducing valves (these valves, which are also known as PRVs, decrease the incoming high pressure of water into a lower, safer one).Looking to solve this second problem as efficiently as possible, the conversation again turns to smart home technology.

The fountains and the housing units alike can be equipped with smart water leak detection for more efficient property management. With these devices in place, residents and board members alike will receive real-time alerts regarding surprise water leaks and moisture build-up. Once again, these alerts will come directly to everyone’s phones. By adopting this helpful new protocol, the board is able to ensure resident safety and conserve the community’s curb appeal. The board is confident that the smart solutions that they have just agreed upon will help promote the continued success of their housing community.

Learn how smart technology is designed to work with homeowners associations and allows them to manage multiple devices from one single app.

Guest Author: Lilibeth Lausin

Marketing Consultant

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