EPMEPM: Technology & Social

Why Tech Is No Threat to Property Managers: Alister Maple-Brown

Since its explosion in the 90s, technology has become central to everything we do in property management, and in business today. Completely changing the game was the iPhone, invented 10 years ago, which gave us access to the world in our back pockets. But will technology ever completely replace property managers? Absolutely not.

The rate of change when it comes to technology has been rapid and will only continue to accelerate. Real estate businesses need to adapt or be left behind.

Technology is an enabler and something the property management industry should be embracing, because while technology won’t replace property managers there’s no denying that it’s changed client expectations.

We all expect the information we want to be at our fingertips anywhere, anytime – and property management clients are no different. Whether it’s a landlord wanting confirmation that rent is up to date or a tenant asking for the status of a repair request, clients have a ‘now’ mentality. They have an expectation that they should be able to access the information they want and find the answers they need at any time.

Property management has truly become a business that never sleeps. But there’s no doubt technology can be a property manager’s best friend in navigating this new reality. Cloud-based property management software is fast becoming the norm. Client information portals are now common. Electronic condition reports are on the rise. Task-specific apps continue to be developed. The list goes on and on, all designed to enable a better level of interaction between the property manager, their clients and other suppliers and stakeholders.

While information may be more easily accessible and communications more tailored and streamlined, the need for a property manager to act as an intermediary is as important as it ever was – possibly even more so.

Property managers are experts in what they do. These days, we all go to experts for advice and service in relation to so many things. Whether we’re after financial advice on how best to grow our superannuation or need a specialist joiner to build a custom bookcase for that odd-shaped nook in our home, we seek out experts to do the job because they’re specialists at what they do.

So too are property managers. Landlords rely on them to manage what is undoubtedly one of their biggest investments. Tenants rely on them to keep a roof over their head. There are a multitude of tasks and responsibilities that come with leasing a residential property which mean the value of property managers is significant. By acting as an intermediary between all parties, they’re able to give landlords the peace of mind in knowing their investment is in the best possible hands – and their property is an asset, not a liability.

While technology won’t replace property managers, there’s no denying that it’s changed client expectations.

Singularly, technology isn’t the answer to everything. It’s not a replacement for a skilled and knowledgeable property manager. Rather, it’s a tool that helps them to respond to their clients’ needs and work more efficiently and effectively, and make information available more quickly. It enhances the quality of advice they give and the service they provide.

Fundamentally, property management is a people business and technology enables property managers to have a better quality of interaction with clients by decreasing friction.

Technology isn’t threatening. It’s not something property managers should be fearful of. But in a challenging and competitive environment, real estate businesses need to always be looking for new opportunities to add value – technology plays a key role in adding this value. It’s a tool that can help property managers respond to their clients’ needs.

Today’s property manager must use technology to enhance the quality of advice they give and the services they provide. In this rapidly changing world, the winners will be those who embrace the opportunities that technology enables.

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Alister Maple-Brown

Alister Maple-Brown is the CEO of leading property management software provider Rockend. For more information visit rockend.com.au.