Latch in use on an apartment building | Courtesy a representative of Latch

Staying Current with Multifamily Tech Amenities

Carrie Rossenfeld Multifamily

Multifamily owners and operators are focused on providing leading-edge technology amenities for apartment renters that will offer both convenience and security. Case in point: Latch, creator of the first smart-access system, recently partnered with Alliance Residential Company, Cal-Coast, Empire Property Group, Encore Capital Management, and SENTRE to bring keyless living to thousands of residents in Southern California, according to a release from a representative of the firm.

The statement says Latch’s smart access system lets residents and building owners or operators use a smartphone, keycard, or door code to unlock doors throughout a building, including at the main entrance, their apartment unit, gym, and other amenity spaces. Users can also grant temporary access to guests and service providers, like dog walkers and cleaners, through time-limited access codes.

As the source describes it, an embedded wide-angle camera within each device captures a still image of every interaction by a non-resident, creating a visual audit trail accessible from the Latch app. Also, through Latch’s national delivery partners, residents’ packages are automatically delivered inside their building lobby or package room.

SoCal Real Estate spoke with Alexander O’Brien, who runs Latch’s industry outreach and sales in Southern California, about how the multifamily industry is working with companies like Latch to provide this type of technology to renters and how they can stay abreast of the trends in this arena.

Alexander O’Brien | Courtesy a representative of Latch

SoCal Real Estate: How are owners/developers/managers of apartment properties working with companies like Latch to provide keyless-entry technology to renters?

Access is top of mind for real estate developers and owners because it can be the root issue or core solution for many problems that affect a multifamily building. Many of these owners look to companies like Latch to understand how to approach issues that consistently impact previous projects/buildings, but most importantly, how to do this profitably while increasing the resident experience. It is no secret that keys are unsustainable in today’s society due to short-term rentals, consumer expectations, e-commerce shopping, or just the way we now share our space with service providers. However, by investing in a smart access system, owners and developers are solving for short-term issues while future-proofing their buildings for tomorrow’s residents.

How should the stakeholders in apartment properties approach this technology and stay abreast of developments in this arena?

Technology moves quickly, and there will always be constant changes and improvements, so I have my Google alert on “multifamily smart lock” and “multifamily technology.” However, to keep a pulse on the market, there are many ways you can do this: research a few standout products in the industry and reach out to your local representative, be a secret shopper at newly open developments in your area and while on vacation, and network at trade shows like AIM or NAA.

What other types of technology are coming down the pike for these tenants, particularly in Southern California?

Multifamily residents and management are benefiting from new technology in their buildings all over the U.S. There are amazing products being implemented for access, in-unit control, communication between residents and building management, and even garages. What excites me the most is how it enables services like never before — third-party services like Hello Alfred and Wag are enhancing resident experience rather than hindering it.

Specifically, Southern California is a really fun market to watch as someone who lives in New York City. In general, it seems prospective tenants have high expectations for technology and third-party services, but do not sacrifice the desire for design and a luxurious aesthetic. In New York and San Francisco, there’s always a compromise, and this isn’t the case for multifamily residents in SoCal.

How might this technology translate to commercial real estate properties in the future?

It completely translates to the commercial space. Although multifamily technology applications are still very different than commercial real estate applications from a functionality standpoint, it enables so many revenue-generating opportunities and cost-savings. When access is no longer an issue of physical credentials, like key cards, you can securely share access anytime with anyone: off-peak deliveries, visiting clients, a short-term tenant, etc. I’ve spoken to a few different SoCal developers who reach out to me to learn about smart access for their commercial projects. They are looking to transform commercial real estate into a more efficient use of space and increase the ability to offer more services to their clients — one of their biggest roadblocks is access.