Technology Trends in Multifamily Housing

Multifamily executives must constantly evaluate new technology hardware and software products at the same time they are integrating current tools, upgrading legacy systems and training staff to take advantage of underutilized components of programs they already have in place. As quickly as things are changing in this area, it can be a real challenge to keep up.

Social Media

It can be difficult to know exactly how social media like Facebook and Twitter contribute to the bottom line in apartment communities. Many apartment managers and owners feel obligated to maintain Facebook fan pages simply because all their competitors have one. But is it as critical as a clean pool, nice landscaping and a friendly, knowledgeable staff? According to a large survey of apartment residents conducted by J. Turner Research, only 8% had ever visited a community’s fan page.

On the other hand, many apartment managers are using social media to improve their rankings in the search engines at the same time they’re slashing their print advertising budgets. Plus, the only cost associated with a Facebook page is the staff time to create it, and occasionally update it. A small price to pay for an online presence that never goes away.

Mobile Phones

There are now more Americans with cell phones than either internet access or cable TV, and an estimated 70 million of us regularly use mobile web browsers. Google recently released Android, a software package for mobile devices, and on February 16, 2010 they announced that 60,000 cell phones with Android are shipping every day. Apple recently marked their 4 billionth app download, so as you can see, mobile devices are here to stay.

UDR, a Colorado-based REIT that owns 45,000 apartment units nationally, says that 9% of its web visitors in 2009 used phones for access, viewed over 400,000 pages and created 97 mobile leases. No doubt these numbers will continue to grow.

UDR was also the first to create an “augmented reality” app for multifamily. A potential renter can point their phone’s camera at an apartment and see pricing and availability data superimposed over the live picture. After launching in September 2009, UDR had over 125,000 downloads by the end of the year. Other firms have already created similar proprietary apps and more are sure to follow.

Web Portals

Another large and growing trend among apartment communities is the development of integrated websites that serve tenants and free up staff for other duties. Already, residents can pay rent online and submit work orders. Some properties even send out lease renewals with incentives for renewing early online. Freed from these mundane and time-consuming tasks, onsite personnel can spend more time showing apartments and performing other duties that increase resident satisfaction.

As you can see, technology is beginning to rapidly change the world of apartment management. I’m sure that apps for the iPad are already in development that will continue to accelerate this trend for the foreseeable future.

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Handy Home Improvement Tips to Help You Create a More Energy Efficient Home

Whenever you take on a home renovation task, you can go beyond making visual enhancements. Home renovation projects also provide you with the ability to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Remodeling for a more energy efficient home won’t just be great for the environment – it will also save you money in the long run. No matter what kind of home improvement project you’re considering, it’s a good idea to find out if there are ways you can enhance your home’s energy efficiency. A good renovation project offers you the opportunity to add more beauty and value to your home, but it will be even more successful if you’re able to use that project to lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Tips for the Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most popular areas to start home improvement projects. When you’re ready to start making some changes in your bathroom, it’s the smaller decisions that can help you to increase the energy efficiency of your bathroom. If you’ll be replacing faucets, sinks and showerheads as a part of your home improvement project, you can save on water by going with low-flow options that still provide you with plenty of water pressure. Another option is to invest in a dual flush or low flow toilet that will help improve energy efficiency in the bathroom.

Tips for the Kitchen

Kitchens are often the heart of the home and they are also a popular place for home renovation projects. It is possible to work on home improvement tasks that improve the function and aesthetic beauty of your kitchen while also working to make your home more energy efficient. Many kitchen home improvement tasks focus on replacing surface features, including floors, counters and cabinets. You can go with sustainable materials to help out the environment. Choosing the right appliances for the kitchen is the real way to save energy while taking on a kitchen home improvement project. Look for ENERGY STAR products that use less water and power, helping to cut down on your energy bills. These energy efficient appliances also come in great sizes and trendy styles so they’ll go along with your d├ęcor of choice in the kitchen.

Tips for Other Living Areas

While it may be more difficult to make living rooms, offices and bedrooms more energy efficient, there are still ways that you can work on energy efficiency when you take on these home improvement tasks. When you’re ready to remodel these areas, work to go with sustainable materials, such as hardwood flooring that is harvested in a sustainable way. Another option is to choose curtains that will help cut back on heat transfer, which will help keep energy bills down. Adding in some extra insulation while involved in home improvement tasks or adding in new ceiling fans can help reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home as well. Also, keeping in mind that materials pulled from the home can be recycled when you do a home renovation in living areas.

As you can see, you can find many ways to take on a home improvement project to improve your home’s aesthetic beauty, function, value and energy efficiency. As you plan out your next home improvement task, make sure you keep energy efficiency in mind. You’ll be taking great measures to help improve the environment while also finding ways to save money over time with a more energy efficient home.