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Tech Trends in Renting: The Rise of the Smart Apartment

The major draw of technology is the concept of making life more convenient for users, so it’s no surprise that in recent years, renters have begun placing increasing importance on the integration of tech into their rental homes and apartment complexes. Younger renters, in particular, are more apt to jump on board with this growing trend. A 2016 study by Wakefield Research found that nearly 90 percent of Millennials they surveyed were willing to pay more for a unit that was outfitted with automated or remote-controlled devices. This is nearly twenty percent more than any previous generation.

Fancy gadgets aside, smart apartments have the potential to transform the way we approach the rental process, how we keep our homes secure, and even how much we pay for utilities. Much of the buzz can be attributed to the idea of interconnectivity, or as it’s been coined, the “Internet of Things”.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart apartment technology

An often-used buzzword in the last few years, the “IoT” is the network of physical devices (such as appliances, computers, phones, and vehicles) that are equipped with software and electronics that enable them to connect to the internet and collect and exchange data. This interconnectivity has led to an upsurge in “smart devices” across a variety of everyday applications, not the least of which has been apartment renting.

Smart apartments

The National Apartment Association defines “Apartment IoT”, or smart apartments, as devices within an apartment that are predominantly used by renters; for example, thermostats, lights, door locks, and voice assistants. Some of these amenities would be bought and installed by the property managers, while others tech gadgets can be bought by the renters. In either case, they attempt to address common renting woes and incentivize young renters interested in automating aspects of home security and convenience.

What smart devices do renters value most?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many renters — 23 percent, to be more exact — are already using this type of technology in the form of virtual personal assistants such as iPhone’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa device, but a close second at 17 percent is a more utilitarian class of device, smart thermostats.

Other items on the poll included remote security monitoring, smart door locks, and smart electrical outlets, proving that amenities that help renters cut costs are inherently preferable and more widely used than gadgets purely for entertainment or vanity items.

Smart apartments

As a renter, it can be hard to decipher all the technical lingo surrounding smart devices and smart apartments, so it’s important to make a laundry list of desired features — just because Millennials said they are willing to pay more for these amenities doesn’t mean you should, too! Is security more important to you than energy efficiency? Are you planning on bringing or buying your own smart devices? Asking these questions in advance will help make the renting process go by much more smoothly.

As the year draws to a close, we’re sure to see more technological innovations transforming the renting process throughout 2019 and beyond, both in terms of the diversity of smart home resources that property managers will offer prospective renters and in the types of devices available on the market.

Nicky Iudean
Nicky Iudean
Nicky is a Senior Communications Specialist for RENTCafé.com, where she researches and writes about real estate, interior design, and all things that spark renters’ interests. She is also your go-to person for content collaborations. Nicky double majored in Marketing and Applied Economics and holds a master's degree in Marketing Strategies and Policies. You can reach her via email at nicky.rentcafe@yardi.com.

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