Real estate professionals have been super innovative in their efforts to use automation and artificial intelligence to keep multifamily units in high demand. With in-house coffee shops, yoga classes, dog washes and smart amenities, the industry is becoming a fan favorite — but will it last?

For quite some time, the multifamily housing industry has been facing off with the single-family suburban market, and while there isn’t necessarily a declared “winner,” it’s becoming more obvious which sector may pull itself above the rest.

It’s no secret that more homeowners are becoming enamored by the idea of renting an amenity-rich luxury apartment unit. And though this conjoined level of high-rise living may prove to be the more preferred route in many cases, a lot of them are missing the most vital component — one that can settle this ongoing battle once and for all. And that’s the connectivity of a strong foundational community.

Automation and artificial intelligence are taking over

While the rest of the world was busy embracing technology in all of its glory, the multifamily industry was still trying to find ways to ignore this nationwide shift. But as digitally focused renters are becoming less impressed by weight rooms and jacuzzis, developers have greatly upped their game.

As a result, smart apartments have become a huge deal, replacing renters’ desires to take part in the many outdoor amenities that complexes have to offer. Renters are also spending more time in their units as a means to stay safe during the pandemic and are becoming more acquainted with their smarter amenities.

Eighty-six percent of millennials have reported that they would pay more money to live in a complex that’s centered around automation, so technology developers have gone above and beyond to keep renters enticed by digitizing their units.

To keep up with increasing standards, luxury complexes now offer voice assistants, smart security systems, smart thermostats, high-speed Wi-Fi, residential mobile apps, instant messaging that allows tenants to contact their apartment managers without the hassle and many more.

These high earners expect to be able to manage their lives from the comfort of their own unit, and with the help of automation and artificial intelligence, it’s more than possible.

Renters are yearning to become a part of a bigger community

Here is where there is much work to be done. Residents will live on the same floor for years and still won’t be able to recall the names of their surrounding neighbors — and that’s a bit unsettling to say the least.

As we all crave human connection, community is an amenity in and of itself. While complex managers may not feel responsible for residential interconnections, they can become less profitable because of this lacking factor, especially because older generations and previous homeowners are now gravitating toward multifamily housing. If they aren’t provided with the same comforting perks, they will likely revert back to single-family housing.

There comes a time in which it’s important to dial back focus from creating new methods to become technologically independent and to redirect that energy toward building ways to help fellow neighbors interact with each other. And that time is now, more than ever.

The key here is to create more opportunities to get people to engage in the same space as connected tenants are more likely to stay put. And while communal kitchens, gardens and dog parks are great places to encourage small talk, they aren’t enough to make renters feel like they are a part of a rock-solid community.

This is why a fair share of complexes have already taken up organized community events. Whether it’s bonfires, painting classes, cook-offs or holiday gatherings, tenants will appreciate the gesture and the friendly company post-pandemic.

Tenants want greater command over their technology

To be quite frank, renters want it all, especially if they are investing a small fortune into their high-rise apartment. To the multifamily housing industry’s credit, they are mastering creative ways to allow tenants to be more in control of their technology.

As a part of the enhanced living package, tenants are able to customize various features, tailoring them to mesh exclusively with their own lifestyles and requirements. Vital functions like lighting, climate control and security systems are a few of the services that can be both personalized and individually managed, giving renters a greater sense of authority over their living experience.

We know that technology and automation are necessary to attract tenants to multifamily complexes. But what developers aren’t doing is using this interconnectivity to enhance the feeling of community.

Michael Crow is the founder and CEO of Dunross Real Estate Corp. in Ronkonkoma, New York. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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