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Emerging Mobile Trends In The Property Management Industry

How many of you are reading this blog article using your phone rather than computer? Whatever the percentage of mobile vs desktop views, it’s sure to be higher than it would have been last year, and lower than it will be next year. On April 11, 2013, the Wall Street Journal featured an article revealing that “Quarterly shipments drop 14% as Windows 8 fails to stem advance of iPads.” All signs and studies point to the irrefutable fact that web traffic is increasingly shifting towards mobile, and people will rely more heavily on their phones.

So, you may wonder, how does this trend affect the property management industry? Who are the mobile users in the property management world? How can Applicants, Tenants, Owners, Property Managers, Leasing Agents and Maintenance Technicians leverage mobile technology to increase efficiency or revenue?

According to the Google Mobile Planet Survey, smartphones are the emerging point of purchase. In 2012, 96% of smartphone users have looked for a product or service on their phone. 94% have looked for local information. 90% have taken action as a result: 70% by connecting to the business and 23% by telling friends about it. Foreseeing the likely case that new Owners are looking for you using their mobile device, consider investing in a website that is optimized for mobile as well. Think about the user experience a prospective owner may have, looking at your website when researching property management companies. Ask yourself:

  • Is it easy to find information about my company?
  • Does every page provide a way to contact me?
  • Is the mobile site easy to navigate?
  • Is every inch on the screen used to provide relevant content, or do I have a big blank section with a high-resolution picture that is taking forever to load?

Your Owners aren’t the only ones interacting with your mobile site. AppFolio’s data shows that 30% to 40% of views to our customers’ listings pages are done using a mobile device, and over 25% of online rental applications are submitted using a smartphone. This means that your Prospective Tenants are relying heavily on their mobile devices while hunting for their next home. Even more astonishing, is that these values have jumped from last year’s average of 20%, which suggests that these trends are growing quickly.

Something savvy Leasing Agents can do to reach their mobile audience, is make sure their vacancies are advertised on listings sites optimized for mobile navigation. There are many great listings sites out there. One example is Trulia, which offers a rentals phone app with color-coded listings, neighborhood information, custom alerts and easy sharing.

If you’re interested in capturing tenant leads on the spot, a great idea is to provide online rental application options to your prospective tenants, who could apply immediately after seeing a unit.  You could even bring your tablet to showings, and potentially screen and approve clients on the spot, reducing leasing processing times and vacancy losses.

If Residents like the mobile experience when applying, they also do throughout the life of their tenancy. Think about the delightful experience you can offer tenants who may remember to pay rent last minute, perhaps while traveling, and can easily do so by accessing their tenant portal on their phone. Not to mention the time a property manager can save by not having to chase down delinquent residents. Furthermore, a property manager can protect an owner’s investment by empowering the tenant with online tools to easily report any issues with the unit.

But, what happens once your tenants promptly submit service request on their mobile device? How can you make sure that the work order is just as promptly addressed by the Maintenance Staff? There are a few mobile apps available that help make the maintenance crew operate more efficiently, quickly review and update service requests while on the go, and easily find tenant and unit location information. Robert Goldman, of Bay Property Group, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, understands the importance of investing in technology to help his maintenance staff be more efficient, and has armed them with mobile devices they can bring on site. Not only can the maintenance staff quickly access any information they need to successfully and promptly complete a job, but Robert also has real time access to any updates on new, ongoing and completed jobs.

There are many helpful mobile tools already available that can help property management businesses become more responsive, efficient, and scalable; and while today they may offer a competitive advantage to those property managers who have quickly adapted to the changing times, they will be the norm in the next couple of years.