Market disrupter

  • Published August 2016

The future is bright. It's just the dizzying speed at which we're travelling that can be daunting. Allow us to be your curator of thought for just a moment.



Market disrupter

Whether you subscribe to GenFlux (those who seek constant disruption) or hold to the adage that history repeats itself ad infinitum (the future is found in the past), we as owners and managers, even residents, follow one common desire across demographics, psychographics and cultures.

We're looking for a better, faster, more efficient way to do things, whether to save time, cut costs, or improve our margins.

So here we proffer some breakthrough products and services that have delivered results and show promise of helping owners and operators become more profitable.

Matterport
Matterport camera and software lets owners and managers capture, edit, and share virtual models of their apartments and communities. Its 3D modeling delivers an online and virtual experience of the community as if the prospect was there.

Matterport says that its product helps shorten the sales cycle, pre-qualify prospects, fill vacancies quickly, and generates more qualified leads. They add that those communities using the product triple their web engagement with prospective renters versus photographs alone.

Industry giant, Apartments.com uses Matterport for 3D tours and says that it produces 49 percent more leads (source: Apartments.com internal data, based on average leads 7/15 through 5/16) and that site users spend triple the time engaging with property listings that offer the Matterport 3D tour than those without.

Matterport believes that stagnant photos are no longer enough so they've worked to make the process simple.

The company's algorithms, machine vision and automated capture process create a blueprint and visual imagery that build a dimensionally accurate 3D experience that doesn't require complex operations or manual processing. It was designed to be as simple to operate as a toaster; no previous photography experience necessary.

Launched in 2014, the Matterport kit includes a Matterport Pro Camera for mapping space, the Matterport Cloud for processing, organizing and hosting, and 3D Showcase, the embedded web player for viewing Matterport Spaces.

Founder Matt Bell previously worked for a gesture recognition company that used a $50,000 camera and expert operators to produce CAD files that were accessed through a proprietary application. Bell was amazed at the power and simplicity of the $150 Microsoft Kinect motion-sensing device, and saw the potential for a relatively cheap device that could let anyone map rooms to create 3D models.

He teamed with David Gausebeck, formerly of PayPal, and they combined their passion for real-life 3D experiences at a reasonable price. Matterport first made a successful launch in residential real estate, which caught the attention of a couple major multifamily players.

Forty-Two, LLC
Forty-Two LLC. is an apartment management firm specializing in revenue optimization. The firm drives net operating income through a 5-point strategy: acquisition and training of top front-line talent; focus on the asset's brand; tracking and quantifying the property performance to measure progress; compare metrics against market; and identify and prioritize best practices.

Forty-Two says its success comes by way of increasing residents quality. This means attracting a demographic with higher disposable income, those compliant with lease terms and those willing to pay more for great service. This, in turn, increases the asset value and lifetime profitability.

Forty-Two customizes plans with the goal of optimizing the property's income through a proprietary system.

The company also consults on product design, and market timing and positioning. Some of their touch points include a property's marketing effectiveness, new product development or renovation at pre-construction, product content development for industry software, new business development and asset performance and management.

Jennifer Nevitt, founder and CEO, has developed ROI strategies for multifamily portfolios since 1993. Her firm has worked with over $6 billion in aggregated assets to create successful income growth strategies and considered one of the nation's most innovative real estate marketers.

Forty-Two has developed $300 million of multifamily for-lease assets and was responsible for the lease-up process, investor exceeding committed returns, and instrumental in packaging to sell assets managed by Nevitt and her team.

Nevitt is also a contributing author of the Urban Land Institute's book, Developing Multifamily Housing, and co-author of the National Association of Home Builder's book, How to Excel at Leasing Apartments. Nevitt was also chief executive officer, inventor and founder of YieldStar Technology, LLC, a yield management, B2B software application that optimized revenue for the multifamily industry. The assets were eventually acquired by RealPage.

Nevitt found herself viewing profit and loss statements that showed thousands of dollars left on the table due to unengaged management teams. This inspired her to create her own platform to increase such companies' revenue, as well as an expense management program to boost overall financial performance.

SightPlan
SightPlan believes that accessing a multifamily property's full history should be as simple as point and click.

By analyzing how work gets done on site and the way updates and aggregate reporting is routed to regionals, executives and asset managers, they've honed in on the information work flow of site teams throughout the lifecycle of a property. This begins at construction through to lease-up, years of operation and eventually rehab or acquisition.

Fixed asset tracking is just one part of this complex mapping. There's been little improvement in the hand off of asset details from construction to operations because short-term thinking is the norm-management just wants to get in and start leasing.

It's only when appliances, carpet, and air conditioner issues arise months or years later do people wish that the transition would have been more organized. There's real value for property managers and owners alike in knowing the condition of assets in the field in order to discern failure rates, and systematically track, repair and replacements and their associated costs.

To improve this transparency, SightPlan has created a new kind of operating platform with powerful, easy-to-use technology at a price that pencils in time saved, negotiating power, better financing and easy compliance with certain regulations.

The geo-location feature precisely maps buildings, assets and amenities on properties. Any selected asset or group of assets is bar coded and tracked. We then use this information to help optimize maintenance operations and perfect a capital improvement plan.

Visual documentation and work verification to ensures that work is done right the first time, and that maintenance teams, including those who are not native English speakers, are empowered to reach their full potential.

SightPlan streamlines communication with residents and vendors while providing a better alternative to staff members texting each other. The software combines answering service and work order systems to deliver a single source for all maintenance matters.

Easy-to-use project management capabilities are placed directly in the hands of techs and vendors to help accelerate make readies, rehab and capital project work.

The software takes a different approach to system integration, too. It works alongside property management systems, avoiding disruption to accounting and leasing practices while enabling standardization and monitoring of resident service and maintenance operating policies.

But perhaps the greatest innovation is its fresh approach to usability, one that matches the expectations of technology savvy professionals and front-line team members alike. Mostly it delivers a top quality experience to residents.

Presently over 30 management companies use SightPlan, with a number of showcase clients in the group.

More renters-by-choice is raising expectations for operational excellence, increasing focus on asset preservation and revealing limitations in the traditional multifamily tool set.

With SightPlan, site teams can replace logbooks and paper work orders, build preventive maintenance programs and provide a modern resident experience while ensuring compliance with company policies and managing risk.

The company helps multifamily owners and operators develop and implement best practices by combining work orders, inspections and preventive maintenance into one solution. It boosts resident loyalty with status updates and by streamlining communication, and delivers insight so owners can make better decisions.

Property owners have SightPlan offers a verified view into the actions that have been taken through the life of the asset.

SightPlan company Founder, Joseph Westlake, announced the company's mission at the National Apartment Association Education Conference two years ago when accepting the trade group's Innovation Award. He shared that the company's focus was to empower leasing, resident service and maintenance teams with easy-to-use solutions, as well as deliver exceptional service.

SightPlan is designed for any asset or portfolio, no matter the size or property type including conventional, affordable, student, military and senior living. Getting started is often budget neutral.

The company offers two packages. SightPlan Answering Service is a smart answering service that integrates powerful voice recognition technology into the call experience of prospects and residents.