How PropTech can drive a premium in build-to-rent

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Learn about important features you need to look out for when choosing a premium PropTech solution from Travis Knipe, StarRez CEO. We’ve also included a link to a 3rd party website to put Built-To-Rent (BTR) in the South African context.

Ease, convenience, reliability and community are some of the fundamentals that lure many a resident to build-to-rent and keep them happy and engaged. But ease isn’t always easy to deliver, convenience not that convenient to manage, reliability ultimately fickle, and community a seesaw that can vacillate between complaints and compliments. It’s enough to give building managers a headache and, when combined, can erode the premium that build-to-rent strives to command. Thankfully proptech that has been developed to support and deliver on build-to-rent’s fundamentals is filling the void, and making it easier for providers to deliver consistently above expectation.

Technology driving positive returns

Proptech platforms in build-to-rent aim to automate the customer experience, streamline communications, track engagement and create efficiencies.

Software can improve the customer experience, helping providers create brands that command a premium while reducing costs by performing some roles autonomously.

There are many important features to look out for if you’re looking for an improved customer experience and reduced costs, including:

  • Community tools that efficiently manage incidents, concerns and experiences – ensuring all residents feel safe and secure
  • Self-service portals that give residents 24/7 access to pay rent, submit maintenance requests or find out what is happening in their building
  • Resident profiles that give teams a complete at-a-glance view of all resident activity and engagement, enabling them to focus on what matters to residents and reduce cost wastage
  • Payment platforms that integrate into general ledger solutions and provide reporting, charting and dashboard projections allowing for occupancy, turnover and more to be forecast
  • Website and mobile integration to improve connectivity and provide scale across buildings, while also allowing staff to easily manage inspections and maintenance requests.

Internet of Things integrated

Where proptech can take buildings to a new level is when Internet-of-Things technologies can also further integrate into the resident and building management experience – think keyless entry, building management and much more.

With a COVID lens applied, integrated proptech across build-to-rent portfolios can provide thermal screening, help residents view occupancy levels in areas where capacity is limited (e.g. gyms), automate cleaning after a space is used and improve the performance of assets in regards to electricity usage.

It all comes down to picking the right platforms and identifying providers who are pursuing collaboration and integration with existing technology companies. Great technology can make a marked difference to creating and supporting a thriving community.

For investors and the fiscally motivated, there are also the benefits of optimising rents, higher retention, more referrals and higher occupancy. It begs the question: is your software solution really working?


Supplementary reading to contextualise BTR in SA titled “SA’s Build-to-Rent Housing Models”.

It reads:

“Build-to-Rent is an emerging long-term housing asset class and alternative housing product that is gaining popularity in the Europe, North America and Australia. Build-to-Rent is a high-end, long-term residential rental product, built and operated by specialist developers for a single institutional owner. This paper uses a summative content analysis approach to identify key stakeholders out of which a framework for the adoption of Build-to-Rent for the middle-income housing market in Johannesburg, South Africa is developed. The model is based on collaborative planning and systems dynamics approaches…” Read more here

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