Last modified on July 13th, 2023
By Brittany Benz
Although artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t new, interest in implementing AI technology across every industry — including multifamily property management — has skyrocketed thanks to rapid advancements in publicly available AI tools like ChatGPT.
However, even as AI solutions come to the forefront of almost every multifamily property management conversation, the industry’s adoption and practical application of AI solutions have mostly been seen among early adopters.
Because a majority of organizations have not yet added AI to their day-to-day operations and are leaning on insights gleaned from often-sensationalized headlines, it can be incredibly difficult to separate fact from fiction.
Here, we’ll break down some of the most frequently discussed and debated AI myths and facts and help explain the true potential and practical application of AI in multifamily property management.
Myth: AI for multifamily property management is brand-new
Because every industry imaginable is talking about new ways to adopt AI solutions, it’s easy to forget that AI has actually been part of multifamily property management for quite some time.
At the most basic level, your business and teams may have already been using AI in a variety of ways, such as:
- Website chatbots.
- Email spam filters.
- Smart devices that feature virtual voice assistants, like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri.
However, even next-generation AI technology isn’t new to property management. For example, the AppFolio AI Leasing Assistant, Lisa, was first introduced in 2019. Lisa combines a collection of AI-driven concepts and models, including natural language understanding and policy and the ability to process external knowledge to determine the next best steps in conversations.
So, while the topic of AI for multifamily property management feels new, the reality is, it’s the adoption of AI and its potential for multifamily businesses that have gained prominence.
Myth: Multifamily property management AI tools will replace humans
In March 2023, Goldman Sachs found that “the use of AI technology could boost labor productivity growth and boost global GDP by as much as 7% over time.”
For multifamily property management, boosting productivity in the right ways can lead to big benefits. Not only does automating routine and time-consuming tasks help free teams’ bandwidth, but it can also allow individuals to work on more fulfilling and high-value work, including building relationships with residents and owners. After all, a recent AppFolio survey found that “over 40% of employees’ time is spent on what they believe is busywork.”
Bottom line: People cannot simply be replaced by AI. Instead, AI should augment your multifamily teams to create better experiences. The key is to let technology do what it does best — such as completing data entry tasks with a high degree of accuracy — so your people can focus on what they do best: thinking critically, being creative, and guiding your AI tools.
Fact: Investing in property management AI tools can maximize revenue and boost NOI
Thanks to stubborn inflation rates and fluctuating market conditions, higher-than-average costs aren’t going away anytime soon. This means your multifamily business’s buying power has been diminished, and budgets likely aren’t going as far.
Although it may be tempting to cut operating, administrative, and maintenance spending, this short-term approach isn’t sustainable. It can actually cause more problems than it solves, especially when it comes to deferring maintenance costs or not offering competitive salaries to attract skilled property management talent.
Instead, investing in purpose-built property management AI can optimize operations by reducing friction and inefficiencies across business-critical workflows. From accounting to maintenance, leasing, marketing, and more, AI can help multifamily property management companies achieve greater operational efficiency — the real long-term solution to boosting NOI and maximizing profitability.
Rather than having onsite teams manually create, prioritize, and assign dozens of work orders every day for maintenance technicians, AI property management solutions for maintenance can do everything seamlessly, which means:
- Teams don’t have to spend time completing tedious paperwork.
- Technicians can receive work orders and complete work sooner.
- The resident and owner experience improves because of quicker response times and work order completion.
Fact: AI can be a competitive differentiator for multifamily businesses
Because technology is woven into almost everything we do, it makes sense that everyone who interacts with your multifamily property management business — from residents to employees — expects the same.
To highlight how important technology is for some of your business’s customers, consider that nearly one-third of U.S. renters said using digital tools to help manage their rental has become more important to them. In addition, almost half of the employees surveyed in AppFolio’s Hiring and Retention Report said they see technology as a key solution in responding to resident questions and requests.
However, don’t just add more disparate technology solutions into the mix: Be strategic, and look for purpose-built AI solutions that can integrate into your day-to-day operations and across your existing property management software solution. This way, you can leapfrog competitors by putting next-gen technology in place in ways that benefit employees, improve the resident and owner experience, and make a real impact on your business.
Fact: Property management AI can be ethical and responsible
There’s no shortage of buzzworthy headlines about ways AI tools can be misused, such as creating deep-fake images or passing off AI-created works as original content. Because AI is here to stay and its adoption will increase, it’s even more vital for the multifamily property management industry to show how AI can be used for good. Committing to responsible AI practices and adopting technology from the right vendors is the best approach. As Cat Allday, VP, AI Initiative and Product Operations at AppFolio, explains:
“Responsible AI is the development and deployment of AI in a way that aligns with ethical principles and values. It ensures the technology is designed, implemented, and used in a way that respects the rights of people and promotes fairness, transparency, and accountability. If you’re working with a vendor or partner, you should be able to ask them: ‘What is your stance on responsible AI? What are your policies and practices?’ Companies should be able to share that.”
Because AI is everywhere, implementing it thoughtfully is crucial, and like any other technology, responsible frameworks for using it within your multifamily business are essential. For inspiration on what this looks like and what it should include, explore the AppFolio AI framework approach with AppFolio Realm.
Interested in more examples to separate property management AI fact from fiction? See why other multifamily businesses are adopting and using AI today, or learn how AI can uniquely benefit your company.