October 26, 2021
Best Ever CRE Team

How Apartment Owners Can Leverage Smart Technology

You’ve probably heard this saying before: You have to spend money to make money. As Mike Rovito could tell you, that notion definitely applies to smart technology.

Mike is the CEO of Dwelo, a San Francisco-based company that’s been in business for more than four years. Dwelo specializes in making apartments smart, focusing on midsize to large multifamily complexes. Its devices include locks, light switches, and thermostats.

These technologies help property owners attract and retain renters. They also make daily life easier, and they reduce energy expenses to boot.

Smart Tech: A Smart Investment

It’s amazing how often apartment buildings use energy needlessly. Take vacant apartments as an example. Naturally, painters and other workers turn on the lights and air conditioning when entering them. But, when they leave, they often neglect to turn them off. And, in some cases, no one checks on those vacant apartments for days or weeks. In the meantime, plenty of electricity gets wasted.

Smart technologies can regulate the air conditioning and lights in vacant units, ensuring they’re not on when no one’s there.

In addition, with a smart lock, you can control who accesses your home and when. Smart locks make it easy, for instance, for someone to enter your apartment when you’re out of town. That person could water your plants, bring your mail inside, and so forth.

You could provide certain people with a temporary PIN to open your lock or allow them to open your door with their phones. Alternatively, you could use your phone to open your door while you’re miles away from your apartment.

Not to mention, at any time, you could lock your door remotely. You’d never again need to worry about whether you locked your door before leaving home.

Many people, especially younger people, seek out smart residences. Mike believes that popular voice controllers like Google Home have increased public interest in these technologies.

In fact, Dwelo has empirical evidence indicating that many people will pay more for a smart apartment. For some renters, a high-tech home is a point of pride. Such systems can make a community feel progressive and exciting.

Then there’s the fun quotient. No matter how many times you’ve done so, you might still get a kick out of turning your lights off with your voice. For his part, Mike still really enjoys this task.

The Professional Education of Mike Rovito

Mike started his career in the field of energy efficiency. Working at ERS, an energy consulting company, he collaborated with many New York real estate owners. He showed them ways their properties could reduce energy consumption.

Those techniques included code generation, storing batteries properly, utilizing smart thermostats, using energy-reducing lights, and streamlining industrial processes. And such methods could be customized according to clients’ needs.

However, as Mike delved deeper into property management, he became increasingly fascinated. He examined how owners plan their capital expenditures, manage operational expenses, and optimize net operating income.

Eventually, Mike realized that he could combine his newfound knowledge of real estate with his energy efficiency expertise. He would create a new business to do so. Dwelo was born.

The Dwelo Difference

Mike labels Dwelo a technology and service provider. In essence, it offers property owners an entire infrastructure for implementing and using smart technologies.

To begin with, Dwelo recommends the optimal smart devices for a given property. It then sells, delivers, and installs those items. And its employees can answer questions and explain best practices to owners and managers.

The result is a property that’s completely connected and fully automated, able to conserve energy to the greatest possible degree.

Once Dwelo installs smart technologies in apartment complexes, it gives the property managers a special app that serves as a switchboard. With that tool, they can control the energy consumption in vacant units and other parts of the building. They can also lock and unlock all of the doors except the tenants’ doors.

When residents move into a smart apartment, all of the devices have already been set up and integrated. It’s a seamless technological experience. The manager simply emails them a link to an account that will let them control that tech. About 30 seconds after clicking that link, they can access every smart device in their new home.

To make matters even easier, if property owners prefer certain types of hardware or software, Dwelo can comply. The company sells Amazon and Google gadgets, for example, and it offers integrations with RealPage and Yardi software.

In fact, Dwelo doesn’t make any of its own hardware. And, while the company produces an app, customers don’t have to use it if they don’t want to.

Dwelo’s offerings are affordable as well, generally averaging in the $500 to $700 range per residential unit.

For sure, some property owners approach smart tech with skepticism. They might believe that it’s not necessary or that it can wait. They may fear it won’t really work or will lead to extra maintenance problems. They might doubt they’ll see any benefits from it at all.

However, the Dwelo team, which has already worked on tens of thousands of units, can make a persuasive case for smart technology in multifamily homes. With hard data, they can demonstrate that it leads to rent premiums of 1 to 3 percent. They have documentation to prove its energy savings, too.

As Mike Rovito notes, though, the strongest argument for smart technology comes when a nearby, competing apartment complex installs it. Building owners can then see how appealing that property becomes to renters.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.

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