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Rent Estate™ Podcast: Episode 06 - Technology’s Impact on the Single Family Rental Space

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It’s back to the future!

From smart homes, to smart cars –there’s a lot to be said for the impact that technology is having on our everyday lives. 

In this episode, Kevin Ortner –CEO of Renters Warehouse; and Todd Jable  –Chief Technology Officer discuss the future of single-family rentals (SFR); and how technology is shaping investing and management processes, for the better. 

Todd is a true tech visionary; he has been in the SFR space ever since it became a solid asset class. Todd started out in the financial space, so he understood real estate from an investment perspective. Today, Todd brings that experience into his role at Renters Warehouse, as he’s been working to develop new tools and strategies that’ll help to solve a number of issues that currently plague investors and property managers alike.

If there’s one thing that we all know about SFR, it’s that managing them is usually a lot more time-consuming than their multi-family counterparts. 

But while this has long been the case, that’s all changing today, as tools and solutions are increasingly coming available to serve SFR investors. These tools are simplifying everything from the process of finding investment opportunities, to vetting the financial viability of potential properties –to being able to outsource the management of these properties; making it easier to invest in these properties at-scale. 

In today’s episode, Kevin and Todd discuss: 

  • How, exactly, tech is changing the SFR space: improving both investing, and property management
  • The IoT (Internet of things): what’s it all about? How can it benefit property managers and landlords alike
  • How DIY landlords can benefit from these changes

Todd mentions that there’s still a lot of potential and room for improvement in this space –especially when it comes to process improvement; things that’ll help to solve challenges and simplify everyday tasks.


Tune into this episode now!

Episode Summary

First up: How has tech changed single-family investments?

Todd’s seen it firsthand. In the last 7-8 years, he’s seen this sector go from virtually nothing –no tools, and not much available for single-family investors –to where it is today: far better served.

Early on, vendors weren’t sure how to value investments or handle the property management side of things –and many tools and strategies were borrowed from the multi-family sector; with mixed results. 

Today though, there’s a lot that’s available on both sides –both when it comes to investing and management. 

One of the things that’s enabled property investing to scale, was the rise of the cloud –as a business tool. For everything from accounting tools to the ability to calculate yield across multiple portfolios to cross-market research, to rent collection; there are a number of cloud-based tools and programs that are available to help.

  • Making SFR Management Easier

It’s no secret that multi-family has traditionally been easier to manage, while as SFR was more time-consuming.

The reason for this is largely because with SFR, no two products are the same; whereas with multi-family, the units have a lot more in common. Another challenge is that SFR is usually very geographically dispersed –something that made it challenging to do inspections, or check in on a property when the need arose.

SFR management is becoming far more feasible though, and today we’re seeing SFR as a viable asset class, able to be managed much like its multifamily counterparts. Technology is making it easier for property management companies to implement systems that enable them to handle hundreds, if not thousands of properties with ease –enabling investors to outsource the rental management tasks at-scale.

  • Improving MLS Data

Take, for instance, the MLS –or different listing sites, that are often full of contradictions. (Is it one-bedroom or two?) It’s also long been a challenge to interpret the data found on these portals as well, with a lack of options for investors who want to use it to find investment properties. Today, though, new and far more efficient tools are coming to the surface that’ll make sifting through this data much, much easier.

As a side note, be sure to check out the new Renters Warehouse Research Center –where you can get real-time data on housing market performance across the country.

  • Learning About Applicants and Investors Alike

Property managers and real estate agents: this one’s for you! The ability to gather and interpret data will enable you to put the right people in the right homes. It will also provide insight into what investors want, and what they’re looking to buy.

Todd mentions that there’s a lot to be done still with base data. Creating artificial intelligence is just now starting, as we’re just beginning to get the base data into place. There’s a lot that can still be done to help make things more efficient, when it comes to learning what buyers want as well as automating some decisions. 

This is where Renters Warehouse is investing their time and resources, into making property management easier and smoother –giving real-time information to landlords, and tenants alike. 

How Is Tech Helping the DIY Investor?

Today, there’s more tech available for DIY investors as well.

They can leverage any number of options that are available today, including tools that give tenants the ability to pay online, or fill out applications, and even offer real-time tenant screening. Additionally, real-time maintenance updates could help decision-making to be automated, delegated –or made more efficiently.

The Internet of Things (IoT) – Its Role in SFR Management

The internet of things, it’s a term we’ve all heard, but what is it –how does it work? How is it going to impact this space? 

When it comes to IoT, there’s a lot of tools that are available, Todd says, but not in a convenient and cost-effective way for SFR industry –at least not yet.

Still, we’re seeing it become more mainstream. And there’s a lot of potential for improving rental property management. Everything from smart locks, to allow vendors access or to change the locks between tenants, to the ability to adjust the thermostat remotely –as well as tools that would give landlords the ability to understand the health of their rentals.

IoT could also enable proactive management:

  • Make things more cost-efficient
  • Enable landlords to plan
  • Help them to address issues before they become worse

Just like most cars today are proactive in letting you know before they break down, one day we’ll be seeing smart homes that tell you when it needs maintenance, or alerting you if something’s wrong.

Consider being notified when there’s an issue with water flow; indicating a leaking pipe, for instance –or if an HVAC filter needs to be replaced.

This could help to save time and money –especially if you have multiple properties!

If you’ve enjoyed this podcast, please like it, subscribe to it, and share it with your friends.

Or if you’re looking for help with your real estate investments or making a real estate investment plan, please check out the Renters Warehouse website. Give your local office a call or send over a question on the website. We’re looking forward to helping you with your SFR investments –as you grow your portfolio over time.

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