Rentgrata x BetterBot – Better Together

Welcome Rentgrata, our most recent integration partner.

Rentgrata, Multifamily’s leading resident referral platform and BetterBot, Multifamily’s most-adopted conversational leasing solution announced today they have integrated their products.

“There’s so much information today’s prospective renter can get long before they visit the apartment community leasing office,” said Robert Turnbull, president, COO and co-founder of BetterBot. “But the one thing they still struggle finding out is the question of ‘do I fit here?’ Because BetterBot is in the business of getting relevant information to renters wherever, whenever, it became overwhelmingly apparent we needed to help facilitate this information using Rentgrata’s solution.”

Rentgrata’s unique resident referral program bridges much-desired dialogue between prospective renters and a host of current residents. In so doing, prospective residents get an actual resident’s unadulterated perspective of their experience living at a particular community.

“Our clients often ask how they can continue to get the opportunity to message a resident in front of more prospects, not just those who land on the community website. They want this to be accessible everywhere because it differentiates them from their competition down the street,” explained Ben Margolit, CEO and co-founder at Rentgrata. “With this integration and partnership, Rentgrata can now also be found everywhere BetterBot is. Additionally, to keep our clients’ websites free of too many widgets, we can now launch the BetterBot conversational solution from our widget, or BetterBot can launch ‘chat with a resident’ from theirs, whichever the community prefers.”

In addition to living on a property website, BetterBot can also be deployed anywhere in the digital marketplace such as Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, and can now intercept prospective renter leads from every ILS. That means Rentgrata’s “Chat with a resident” solution will be introduced to all these new channels and prospective renters further expanding their reach.

Ethical Considerations AI Companies in the Multifamily Industry Need to Keep Top-Of-Mind

Artificial intelligence and other related tech like machine learning have had an incredible impact on the real estate industry as a whole. While historically slow to adopt new practices and technologies, the past 5-10 years have represented the beginning of a new era for the space. Especially in the multifamily sector, AI has a tremendous potential that’s only starting to be realized by certain enterprising companies. However, with any technology (new or old) comes a series of considerations that need to be taken into account. 

When implemented in the right ways, AI can be an incredible tool for both property management teams and renters alike. At the same time, it can also perpetuate harmful biases and compromise people’s data and security if the proper safeguards aren’t put in place. Today we’re going to take a closer look at a few of the most important factors AI companies in multifamily should consider before, during, and after developing new applications for this tech.

5 top considerations for AI companies in multifamily 

Privacy 

Data makes the (tech) world go ‘round. And as such, it’s one of the most valuable assets a company can have when developing a new AI product. Better data can improve an algorithm’s performance, and even expand its capabilities. However, the way data has historically been collected and managed has increasingly come under more scrutiny by consumers. Fortunately, developers are listening to these concerns, with 82% of developers saying that ethical concerns are now much more of a consideration than before. 

The crux of data privacy revolves around companies asking themselves what they should do, instead of what they can do with the data they have at their disposal. In the multifamily space, this could look like protecting renter information instead of selling it to third parties, and only collecting data with people’s explicit consent.  

Security

Keeping people’s information private is one thing, but being able to protect that information from cybersecurity threats is a whole other ball game. You can have the most revolutionary AI product, but if you don’t have sound security infrastructure around that product and your operations, the data you’ve worked so hard to collect ethically could easily be stolen. This is not just a matter of privacy ethics, but trust as well. Once your company has been subject to a cyberattack or data leak, it will be much harder for property management groups and consumers to trust using your product. 

Accountability

If there’s ever a question of ethics, who should a developer turn to? Creating a clear hierarchy or structure for where/how/to whom concerns should be raised is essential to building applications that ultimately adhere to compliance regulations and best practices. What’s more, establishing this culture of accountability and responsibility early on can help cement better practices as a non-negotiable aspect of your company in the long-term. Oftentimes, it’s a lack of institutional accountability – not a single developer – that’s responsible for an AI product failing to meet certain ethical standards.  

Biases

A big topic of discussion in the tech world today is centered around our own internal biases and how we can unconsciously instill those biases into AI if we’re not careful. In real estate, things like racial biases have a long, painful history of exclusion, and in order to stop perpetuating that history, companies need to intentionally craft algorithms and systems that aren’t shaped by unconscious biases. How can teams go about doing this? There are several ways to reduce bias within AI, including: 

  • Understand your training data: Sometimes commercial and academic data sets include labeling systems that can bring bias into your algorithm. When choosing training data, make sure to take into account the full spectrum of your intended user-base and use-cases. 
  • Diversify your teams: Including a diverse array of experiences and perspectives on your team will help you engage with your product in different ways. And with people asking questions that you might not have thought of, you might be able to catch potential issues before they arise – or expand your algorithm’s capabilities in a way you hadn’t thought of.
  • Making testing and feedback routine: The easier you can make it to provide feedback, the quicker you’ll be able to take action. The goal for these products should be to evolve and get better with time and feedback, so build consistent testing and feedback sessions into your process.

Approaching AI in multifamily from a place of sensitivity and curiosity when it comes to ethics is key to building a better future for this tech in the industry. Want more up-to-date multifamily resources and news? The BetterBot blog has got you covered. 

Ways to Promote Your Pet-Friendly Community

Renters all around the United States are looking for pet-friendly apartments. An American Apartment Owner Association study had shown that 90% of renters stated that they have a pet. This study also revealed that 30% of those pet owners looked for apartments around pet amenities such as dog parks, walking trails, and veterinary offices.

“Millions of renters from around the country are in need of pet-friendly apartments. In 2008, more than 11 million searches for apartments that allow cats and dogs were conducted on Apartments.com” (National Survey REVEALS Renters Are Living for Their Pets).

More and more potential renters depend on property websites to obtain all the information they need to make a property decision. Below are three ways you can ensure that your property is on the top contender’s list.

  1. Ensure that pet information is accessible to potential renters on your website

You can do this in various ways. A few examples of making your pet information more accessible is putting a snapshot of the information in a banner on your home page.

This banner can be a still image or turned into a carousel that gives more details as the following images are displayed.

Another way to display this information is by placing a call to action. This CTA, call-to-action, can be placed in a body of text or a picture. This CTA will direct potential renters to a landing page with all the pet information they need.

Lastly, you can always add “pet policy” in your header menu on your website to give potential renters a quick and easy way to find the information they need.

2. Update your ILS platforms

In 2019, a survey was conducted called Renter Insight & Digital Engagement survey by apartment seekers to identify struggling points in apartment searching. The study results identified the following “The most frustrating issues for apartment seekers, according to the survey, included “finding accurate information online about the property” at 31%” (Salmonsen, M.)

While it is essential to have your most updated pet information on your website, many property owners forget about ILS platforms. With more than 80% of apartment seekers looking for their next apartment on ILS platforms, property owners must continuously update these platforms to ensure potential renters have the most accurate information.

3. Outreach Marketing

A good way for the property to get pet information to potential renters is by partnering with local pet shops. Property managers can contact local pet shops and see if they would be interested in establishing a partnership where the property manager can give the pet shop advertising material that they can provide to customers. In return, they can advertise the pet shop on the property or during property events.

Pet-friendly properties are becoming more attractive to potential renters even the ones that don’t have a furry friend yet. Don’t miss out on potential renters due to a lack of information on your website or your ILS. Creating an amazing apartment searching experience is how to ensure that renters call your property their forever home.

Work Citation:

“National Survey REVEALS Renters Are Living for Their Pets.” AAOA, 29 Jan. 2021, www.american-apartment-owners-association.org/property-management/latest-news/what-90-of-renters-want/.

Salmonsen, M. (2019, July 12). A vast majority of U.S. RENTERS use online ratings and reviews in the apartment search. Multifamily Executive. Retrieved September 27, 2021, from https://www.multifamilyexecutive.com/property-management/a-vast-majority-of-u-s-renters-use-online-ratings-and-reviews-in-apartment-search_o.

Ways to Maximize Your Time at Optech 2021

Our team is incredibly excited to be attending the Optech conference in beautiful National Harbor, MD. This conference is an amazing opportunity to learn, make connections, and discover new tools. Although it can be such a valuable time, we know how chaotic conferences can be. This is why it’s essential to have a plan. We’ve put together a few ways you can maximize your experience at #Optech2021. 

Schedule Your Sessions Ahead Of Time

Take a look at the Optech agenda beforehand. This will help you identify which sessions are most important for you and your business. There typically are multiple sessions happening at once and there are certain topics you may find more pertinent than others. Highlight the ones you are most interested and if your team is with you, you can divide and conquer the most interesting topics. 

Map Out Your Expo Route

The expo can be one of the most fun parts of any conference. This provides an opportunity to connect with peers and vendors from all over. However, we know it can get overwhelming. Take a look at the event map before you go so you don’t miss anything. Be sure to take a moment to stop by the BetterBot booth (#733) for a chance to win a special prize. There are over 100 vendors planning to be at Optech 2021, so you’ll want to know ahead of time which booths you want to visit. 

Plan Your Event Schedule 

Before a conference like Optech, your inbox may be flooded with event invites. Don’t panic! Plan your event schedule ahead of time and write it down in a place you will refer back to. Many events require planning ahead of time so it is helpful when you can RSVP ahead of time. For example, BetterBot will be hosting a big event at the Capital Wheel and although this event is open to Optech attendees, you will need to RSVP beforehand. If you haven’t already secured your spot, you can do so HERE

Conferences don’t have to be overwhelming. They can be so valuable when they are maximized by attendees. It’s important to implement these tips when attending conferences so that you get the most out of your conference. We hope to see you at Optech 2021! Again, if you haven’t submitted your RSVP to our event, please do so HERE

5 Key Trends in Affordable Housing That Are Shaping the Future of the Industry

It’s an unfortunate fact that the affordable crisis has been an ongoing one, and in many ways, the pandemic has only exaggerated it. As such, we’ve seen increasing calls over the past few years for creativity and innovation when it comes to the future of the industry. And while states continue to struggle to fully meet their affordable housing needs, shifting expectations around what it means to create and rent out safe, quality spaces are encouraging the industry to move forward in exciting ways. Here are just a few emerging trends in affordable housing we think will play an important role in shaping the next few years – and beyond. 

5 trends in affordable housing we’re watching

Emphasis on DEI

The past 18 months have been characterized by an increased focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of life and work, and the housing industry hasn’t been left out of those conversations. Renters are becoming increasingly aware of the diversity – or lack thereof – within their own neighborhoods, and many support initiatives like the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Program that bring marginalized groups into better housing situations. 

What’s more, some communities are advocating for more inclusionary zoning practices. Giving lower-income families the opportunity to live in higher-end neighborhoods has been shown to improve health and educational outcomes, along with creating more diverse job networks and contacts. 

Now more than ever, people are recognizing the role safe, adequate housing plays in creating thriving, upwardly mobile communities. New initiatives at both the state and local levels will be important in pushing the industry forward in a meaningful way. 

Rethinking the leasing process

Along with a better understanding of how investing in diversity positively impacts communities, property management groups are now also recognizing the importance of proptech in creating better processes for both workers and renters. The pandemic radically changed the way people look for their next apartment, and many property management teams have had to reassess how they approach things like tours and leasing. Many are leaning more heavily into automated solutions like chatbots to streamline the leasing process and provide things like 3D tours when properties are unable to be visited in person. 

People want digital solutions to things like leasing, especially in a time where many might not be able to actually visit and complete paperwork at a property’s office in person. Rethinking the leasing process through technologies like chatbots gives people an easier way to find a new place, and saves property management teams hours of valuable time each week.   

Smarter amenities

One of the biggest trends in affordable housing today is building spaces with better, more targeted amenities. Affordable housing has traditionally been bereft of many of the amenities other classes of housing have enjoyed, but some new properties are working to challenge convention and provide higher-quality spaces for renters. Larger kitchens, office space, and more natural lighting are just a few things renters are looking for within their private spaces, especially those with remote or hybrid jobs. 

In addition to larger spaces, more people are looking for walkable communities, or apartments with easy access to places like grocery stores, childcare centers, and more. 

Sustainable design

Along with better amenities, prospective renters value sustainable, eco-friendly design more than ever. As more people become aware of the climate crisis, they want to live in more eco-conscious ways, and that includes housing. To provide this, we’re seeing many builders opting to incorporate more sustainable practices into construction and apartment design. Ultimately, many of these more sustainable choices are also more cost-effective, saving money on energy usage and maintenance costs.  

Electronic-first communication and data management

Many property management groups’ forays into proptech like leasing chatbots have unearthed a fact about consumer behavior that until recently, the real estate space was uncomfortable admitting: most people prefer to do things online. If information about your property isn’t easy to find online, or you lock information behind email walls or phone numbers people must call, they’re not going to be as likely to want to pursue a lease. Chatbots and other automation solutions reduce the amount of time leasing teams spend answering repetitive questions. It also helps them in the information gathering phase where the bot asks and collects the income and household info then pre-qualifies the prospective affordable renter.

Giving people a way to get information on things like amenities, floor plans, rent payments, and maintenance 24/7, 365 is critical. And on the flip side, investing in digital solutions for data management and analytics can help enable property management teams to be able to better understand renter needs and anticipate turnover.  

Keep up with the latest in multifamily trends and news by following the BetterBot blog.



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