With smart apartments still being relatively new to the multifamily industry, I naturally get a lot of questions from Property Managers and Supervisors. Personally I love answering these questions, because it gives me an excuse to talk more about my passion for home automation. But there’s one question that I undoubtedly receive the most: ”A smart apartment sounds amazing, but how do you know residents actually want it?

Simply put: We know this because we asked them.

Answering this question was actually one of SOTAH's first orders of business. Over the span of 3 weeks, we hit the streets to ask 200 local Houston residents about their thoughts on home automation technology and its use in apartments.

Here’s a quick snapshot of our most interesting findings from their responses:

Camera

Which devices do residents
want the most?

First, we wanted to know specifically which device categories that residents found the most interesting: Locks, thermostats, the Amazon Echo, motion/door sensors, cameras, or lighting. Residents overwhelmingly identified cameras as the device they’re most interested in, with the Amazon Echo being a close second.

This isn’t all that surprising considering 1) the total lack of awareness over one’s own living space while away, and 2) the increasing frequency of apartment break-ins. Additionally, 44% of residents surveyed reported having considered purchasing either a camera or Amazon Echo within the past 6 months (24.5% for camera, 19.5% for Echo).

Do they already own any smart
home devices?

What’s the point of providing something if the resident already has it--right? When asked whether or not they owned any of the previously-mentioned devices, 72% of residents reported that they did not.

Of those residents who reported owning one or more of the devices, 18.5% owned a camera. This wasn’t exactly a shocker since cameras were listed as the #1 device that residents were interested in anyways. However, it does suggest that more residents want to see what’s happening in their apartment when they’re away. Does my dog jump on the sofa while I’m at work? And who’s that guy with the crowbar in my living room?

Would residents be more likely
to visit a property that offers
smart apartments?

Of the 200 local Houston residents surveyed, nearly half were “moderately” to “much more likely” to at least visit a property that included a smart apartment offering.

Just consider that for a second. Think about the number of visits and tours happening at your property each week...then increase it by 50%. Assuming you have a capable team of Leasing Agents, something tells me there’s plenty to be gained from that kind of increase in foot traffic.

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Would residents let smart apartments be a determining factor?

Plenty of factors go into a resident’s decision to sign a lease...including technology. When selecting a new apartment, a whopping 82% of residents surveyed were likely to let a smart home system be a determining factor. As home automation technology continues to explode in popularity, these residents are looking to see which apartment properties actually deliver on the all-too-common claim of a “modern living experience.”

 

Do residents believe that a smart home system adds value to the apartment?

Better security, greater convenience, lower energy bills--all of these provide significant value to residents. But don’t take our word for it: 9 out of 10 residents said a smart home system would add value to the overall living experience of an apartment. This could also help with resident retention, since neighboring properties may find it difficult matching the living experience that your smart apartments provide.

 

As a whole, this survey made one thing abundantly clear. Whether it’s due to the enhanced safety, improved energy efficiency, next-level convenience, or all of the above, the underlying fact remains the same: Residents want smarter apartments. And since they can’t self-install a new smart door lock or thermostat without breaking the lease agreement (and for good reason), residents are actively looking for the properties that have these devices pre-installed.

Want to beat the Houston apartment supply surge? Start by offering residents the lifestyle they’re looking for right now.

Survey Demographics

SOTAH Survey Demographics