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AI in Multifamily: From Nice-to-Have, to Necessities

In this special guest feature, Minna Song, CEO of MeetElise, offers a better understanding of why AI is no longer a nice-to-have tool in the PropTech industry, but rather a necessary facet that is required for your multifamily business to be successful. Minna is the co-founder and CEO of MeetElise, an AI leasing agent set to bring efficiency to leasing. She is a graduate of MIT with a degree in Computer Science. Minna resides in New York City.

If you had heard about artificial intelligence (AI) technology in multifamily 5 years ago, you would likely think of it as not being applicable to your business. Rather, you may have opted to instead look towards adopting and integrating the latest feature of an existing AI tool that showcased obvious benefits to your business’s operating model. 

Now, fast-forward to today. Chances are high that you likely won’t make it through a whole conversation at a PropTech conference without the topic of AI or the nuanced benefits it poses to business coming up at least once, if not more. Keep reading to get a better understanding of why AI is no longer a nice-to-have tool, but rather a necessary facet that is required for your multifamily business to be successful.

Learn how AI has changed the game of multifamily leasing

For decades, the concept of integrating AI more deeply into our lives has left the technology’s advocates and critics alike pondering its potential ramifications. Today, those ramifications are slowly and steadily becoming increasingly more clear.

According to D2Demand Solutions, approximately half of the senior multifamily leasing industry leaders they spoke to regarding the integration of AI reported that the technology had helped to increase their leasing initiatives in 2020. Of the primary beneficial features that integrating AI into their multifamily leasing initiatives has offered, all respondents noted the importance of both contactless leasing and self-service.

This tells us that for potential customers, the ability to serve themselves through AI-driven platforms has become a crucial necessity for multifamily leasing companies to have. While this change has largely been spearheaded by the onset of the 2020 pandemic, the broader implementation of AI in these ways has changed the way that customers interact with multifamily leasing companies. As a result, it further tells us that the leasing companies which are able to integrate AI into these aspects of their business model will retain a niche competitive advantage over their competitors.

Understand why AI is necessary to remain competitive

For a moment, place yourself in the shoes of a potential customer for your business. If you are searching for a multifamily unit to lease, and the company you are trying to lease through does not offer AI-driven self-service abilities or contactless leasing — the two same primary points that most multifamily leasing companies have reported their customers wish to see — how likely are you to still sign a leasing contract with them?

If your answer is along the lines of, “not very,” then this should signal to you the importance of integrating AI more deeply into your leasing process as not only a selling point to customers, but also a means of remaining relevant in a highly competitive market.

During the summer of 2020, when lockdowns were still widely in effect as a result of the pandemic’s spread, more leasing companies began utilizing AI to offer potential customers virtual tours of their multifamily units. While some customers may no longer decide that such offerings are a vital part of their decision-making process, those that were able to remain adaptable in a constantly changing consumer market were able to better position themselves against their competitors. Only time will tell how your company’s ability to integrate AI more deeply into its operations can equally position you better against your competitors (and their AI-centric initiatives) in the coming years.

Know that having AI is not enough; you need smarter AI

Unfortunately, simply integrating an AI service into your leasing company’s offerings is not enough to remain relevant or competitive today. Having AI in your toolkit is one thing; knowing how to use it — and continually improve it to make it smarter and more efficient — is another thing entirely.

For example, if your company’s AI is able to allow potential leasers to schedule virtual or self-guided tours, but doesn’t automatically follow up with them after tours are concluded, you are leaving thousands of potential dollars in revenue (quite literally) at the door. Likewise, if your AI is able to follow-up with potential customers but doesn’t offer them a means to provide feedback about what they did or didn’t like about the unit(s) they toured, your company will have to work twice as hard to understand the pain points of your target market.

The ways in which AI can provide necessary benefits to customers and leasing companies alike has only just had its surface scratched over the past few years. In order to best remain relevant and competitive in today’s hyper-digitized world, you will need to consider the ways in which AI can provide greater value to your company and the customers it aims to serve.

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