Multifamily apartment syndicators are always seeking an edge to improve returns. As costs soar due to inflation, many are looking for alternative ways to accomplish the same goal. Even better if it can be done in a more cost-effective manner. Many investors look to technology and automation to cut costs and save time. Historically, the commercial real estate industry has been slow to adopt new digital resources, but firms that are open to these innovations often see an improvement in efficiencies and profits.
We’re always looking to see what technologies and resources can boost productivity and returns. PropTech firms focus on delivering solutions for property owners and managers with new offerings emerging constantly. The term PropTech is associated with startup firms that focus on property technology solutions. Some of these tools are designed for institutional-level investors, but there are a number of solutions that are suitable for smaller firms.
In speaking with PropTech founders, guests on my Multifamily Insights podcast, and other professionals, I’ve come across a number of interesting tools that can aid multifamily syndicators looking to drive efficiencies in their business. These tools focus on various aspects of finding, analyzing, and managing apartments. In addition, some are geared toward facilitating the relationships and communication necessary to drive success.
There are a number of tools that can help you improve your efficiency as an apartment syndicator. In fact, my friend Veena Jetti recently shared an article highlighting 6 tech tools that help with communication. Since she covered many internal communication tools, we will focus on other aspects of multifamily resources.
As you review the following list, you may prefer alternative tools or resources and that’s completely fine. This isn’t meant to be a personal ranking of each tool as I don’t consider myself to be a tech wizard or product reviewer. Instead, view this list as a compilation of solutions to common problems syndicators face. Some of the solutions are available at no cost, while others may require a significant investment. They all aim to make parts of the syndication process easier.
Here are five digital resources for apartment syndicators.
For Deal Analysis: Cash Flow Calculator
The first tool comes from right here on the Best Ever Commercial Real Estate site, the Cash Flow Calculator. This spreadsheet is available at no cost, allowing you to analyze deals with a model that has been leveraged to increase cash flow and minimize shortfalls. This model allows you to adjust assumptions and includes a step-by-step underwriting process. The model also includes a deal qualifier checklist and data tables for cost assumptions and debt terms.
For Investor Management: Groundbreaker
An investor portal is a great way to drive communication efficiencies with investors. If you are working with passive investors, you want to have a portal to help you organize documents and information, as well as professionalize your approach. Groundbreaker is an investor portal that is affordable for newer syndicators and can scale with your business. One thing I like about Groundbreaker is the emphasis on customer support and investor education.
For CRM: ActiveCampaign
A CRM (customer relationship management) tool is a must for apartment syndicators. ActiveCampaign is one of the more popular platforms for its ability to weave email marketing and lead management for prospects. Whether you are looking to manage prospective investors or relationships with key brokers and vendors, this tool can help you stay top of mind with key contacts. You may prefer MailChimp or another platform, but the goal is to ensure the platform’s functionality and ease of use matches your needs.
Side note: A question I often receive is whether you need a CRM tool if you use an investor portal. I would suggest using the investor portal for qualified investor leads that have been vetted and express a serious interest in investing. A CRM is used for general leads that may or may not be qualified, as well as managing other key relationships like brokers and vendors.
For Direct Mail: Handwrytten
Direct mail is a proven marketing tactic, but most apartment owners get bombarded with postcards and letters that go straight to the trash. Handwritten notes have a 300% greater open rate than printed mail, but they are more expensive. David Wachs launched Handwrytten to connect with prospects in a personalized way that was less invasive than a phone call. As the name implies, they offer handwritten notes for business owners using robots that learn and mimic your actual handwriting. For apartment syndicators, this is a great way to engage with owners and investors with a personal touch. And that personal touch could be the difference in converting a prospect.
For Social Media Content: Postredi
All syndicators know social media is a great way to make new connections with potential investors. The challenge is that coming up with fresh content ideas can be difficult for apartment syndicators. A new technology called Postredi is aiming to help investors by using AI to curate popular content. Postredi is a social media curation tool made by real estate investors that searches social media for popular posts and allows you to repost or recreate the content. The platform just completed its beta phase and is now available to the general public.
These are just a handful of the tools that can help you increase your efficiency and effectiveness. With that in mind, this list should serve as a starting point to find the right tools and resources for your specific needs and budget. By no means is this list meant to be all-inclusive, and I’m sure there are phenomenal tools others love. If you have a digital tool or resource that you recommend, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
About the Author:
John Casmon has helped families invest passively in over $100 million worth of apartments. He is also the host of the #1 rated multifamily podcast, Multifamily Insights. Prior to multifamily, John was a marketing executive overseeing campaigns for Buick, Nike, Coors Light, and Mtn Dew: casmoncapital.com