Residential property prices continue to skyrocket – under 30s are now spending over 30% of their salary on rent, while the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite. Rightly, tenants are expecting more bang for their buck than ever.
As disposable incomes feel the squeeze, property managers need to get creative to find a competitive edge. One source of inspiration is the commercial property market, which is still in the midst of a revolution in purpose. New players – particularly those in the flex office market – have seen success after focusing on the experience of their clients. This revolution has begun to take shape in the residential market, but it needs to go further.
Services – the new square footage?
The pressure is now on property managers to differentiate themselves by expanding their service offering. Many sectors are increasingly beginning to think about what services they can incorporate into their offering, particularly those that lie outside their traditional wheelhouse.
Google’s new King’s Cross office offers an extreme example: a space complete with baristas, ‘nap pods’ and an exercise trail that caters to the worker’s every need. Services once considered ‘eccentric’ are now standard. In residential property in London, lifestyle services like gyms, cinemas and retail are increasingly in demand.
Property managers, take heed. There is a clear purpose in the build-to-rent market to foster a sense of community for shared living, building an offering that listens to the needs of tenants. Property managers who make living simple – with on-site managers, resident apps, or perks like “free” Wi-Fi – are likely to do well and this is having a knock-on effect on other sectors. Knight Frank research showed that the UK’s build-to-rent sector attracted £1.7bn of institutional investment in the first half of 2022 alone.
How property management systems can help
So, how best can property managers adapt to changing demands from tenants and ensure they capitalise on new opportunities? Managing properties can be time-intensive and admin heavy. For the tenant, their flat is their life – something personal. For property managers, it remains a business made up of hundreds of tasks and different priorities. This is where the property management systems of the future can lend a helping hand for managers and tenants alike.
At Grosvenor Systems, for instance, we have recently partnered with Spike Global, enabling build-to-rent operators to benefit from a complete end-to-end property management and accounting solution. By combining property management efficiency with tenancy engagement, the entire tenant management process can be digitalised. Making processes more efficient allows property managers to improve the tenant experience while also freeing up their time to focus on more value-add services.
Drawing on new tech functionality can also create streamline processes. For example, we have also partnered with intelligent workspace services company Xenith to digitise invoice processes, using bespoke AI-driven solutions to reduce errors. This reduces admin and allows property managers to invest more time into ensuring their properties cater for the tenants of the future.
Next generation tenants
It is clear that enhanced, simplified, tenant-focused experiences should be the aim for the residential property sector. Utilising new software and tech functionality might just be the vehicle to achieve that aim, and investors are clearly paying attention – CBRE, for instance, recently made a capital investment of $100m in property management tools, in a sign that the market is continuing to heat up.
Tenants are demanding more from their landlords, and in turn landlords are demanding more from the management systems they rely on. We should all be looking to the future, driving innovation and seeking new ways to collaborate within the industry. Putting the tenant experience at the heart of residential property must be our priority going forward.
Matthew Smith, Sales Manager at Grosvenor Systems