If there is one thing you can count on in the future, it’s change. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people work, shop, socialize and look for housing. Technological advances in digital video, artificial intelligence, 5G, and Wi-Fi connectivity have changed consumer and property owners’ expectations.

New real estate investors are buying rental properties and cutting out the middleman by managing the properties themselves. 

In order to remain successful, property management companies must be on top of quickly changing trends in this $6 billion industry to attract and retain renters and property owners.

New construction trends   

Low interest rates are expected to fuel some real estate investment despite the recent slowdown in construction due to COVID-19.

New construction in the real estate industry market is trending toward large multifamily and multi-use rentals to accommodate more people.

Demographic trends

Research from Restaurants Canada shows that Canada’s Generation Z population is expected to grow from 25% to 33% within the next decade. These younger prospective renters in the tenant market are more multicultural, health-conscious, and tech-savvy than any previous generation. 

Generation Z are also digital natives and expect housing that includes the latest technology. ICC Property Management advises that any property that does not incorporate technology into its rental units and service offerings will be considered outdated. 

Rental demand

According to a recent paper by TD Economics, demand for rental units decreased in 2020 as COVID-19 put a halt on immigration, and many renters laid off due to COVID-19 have been unable to meet their rent payments.

However, ICC Property Management expects the property management business in Canada to recover and experience growth over the next five years.

Increasing prices across the country will place home ownership further out of reach and more positive conditions in nonresidential markets continue to expand.

Urban areas will continue to see an increase in “walkable cities.” These are areas with upscale rental facilities within shopping and business communities. They are designed to replace the desire to own property on the residential side, particularly among millennials and baby boomers. 

Property space trends

Some of the biggest market trends were ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is expected to continue into the future. 

More people are working from home, so charging and docking stations for smartphones, laptops, and tablets are essential in rental and common property areas.

Online shopping continues to grow at unprecedented rates in Canada, so the need for dedicated space for larger packages, including cold storage for food deliveries, is an emerging trend in the multifamily residential sector. Smart lockers controlled via a smartphone app would allow them to pick up parcels at their convenience.

Social distancing will become the norm, giving rise to keyless door entry systems, high-tech fitness centers with Wi-Fi access and automated sanitizing features, and outdoor social spaces with fireplaces, grills and heaters.

Trends in customer habits and expectations

Renters have become increasingly frugal and conscious of their impact on the environment, so expect a high demand for the property management teams to provide features such as:

  • Smart home technology can save time and reduce consumption.
  • Free Wi-Fi and video service
  • Wi-Fi enabled laundry machines and vending machines throughout the building. 
  • Automated online web payment portals 
  • Access to property maintenance services and community activities via smartphone apps.

Technology trends

Emerging technologies, such as cloud services, artificial intelligence, and integrated devices make it easier than ever for property management companies to be connected to tenants, vendors and property owners.

Workforce automation streamlines work orders or requests from tenants, direct monitoring of work orders by vendors and provides summary reports to property owners and the management team

Secure online web portals automate rent collection and connect directly to cloud-based accounting systems.

Cloud-based property management software facilitates and tracks lease signings and agreements, security and property inspections. It also makes it easier to report new business and maintenance requirements to property owners.

Mobile apps and an online social media presence will attract the younger millennial and Generation Z market. It provides the ability to share and personalize the customer and client experience.

Technology gives property management companies an edge with property owners by providing efficiencies, convenience, security, and an air of competence. Future renters and property owners will expect a blend of convenience, security, high-end amenities and flexibility. 

ICC Property Management is using technology to digitally track cleaning of targeted touch points and safety and security compliance checks. 

Technology implementation and personalized service are game-changers that will drive this industry, going forward. Property management firms that wish to remain relevant and gain competitive advantage must focus on meeting the expectations of the tenant market and property owners to optimize their experiences.

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