Technology’s Role in Navigating the New Normal

In the current climate, where all aspects of New York City real estate have gone virtual, it is more apparent than ever that building owners and property managers must embrace and utilize a technology suite.

With social distancing and remote work, which will remain as offices begin to gradually and partially reopen, the real estate industry is at a crossroads; players can either embrace innovation and adapt or simply be left behind. The necessary operational shift toward technologies and software will allow them to survive the pandemic and its immediate aftermath and position their firms for long-term growth.

We have focused on implementing the best available technology and most relevant software to both improve the lives of our tenants and report seamlessly on building operations to our clients. Features for our tenants include remote door access, package delivery systems and easy and efficient communication channels with property management and building staff. Smart door technology, which allows tenants to open doors remotely without a hard key, has become even more useful. Through a phone app, tenants control package deliveries and door access, receive announcements and request work orders. On the back end, work order logs are seen by the management staff and incorporated into a database of tenant information and activity.

In addition to synthesizing tenant work orders, feedback and leasing and payment activity to help maintain efficient building operations, our collaborative software has allowed us to increase our reporting capacity to third-party clients and our investment partners while our office staff is working remotely. During every site visit, our supers and porters create inspection reports with time-stamped photos and notes, which allow ownership and management to see that any issues big or small are immediately addressed. Payment portal tracking helps management separate monthly rent in transition from funds settled in the account. Payments, arrears and lease renewals are tracked and updated, nearly in real time, by all relevant parties. Maintaining the latest data from each of these groups in one location has allowed us to report daily on collections and occupancy amid the uncertainty of New York’s stay-at-home order.

Updates on lease renewals, which are handled by property management only, are seen by third-party leasing teams who can better anticipate their pipeline. Once a unit becomes available, the leasing agent is immediately alerted and can submit suggested pricing for ownership approval. Showing apartments by virtual tour has allowed our agents to work effectively while prioritizing health and safety. Collaborative data-sharing among multiple parties is also critical for the efficient transfer of portfolio-wide updates to the executive management and ownership teams.

Prioritizing our firm’s digital capabilities early on and investing in innovative proptech has streamlined workflows and improved efficiency, ultimately allowing for relative ease in adjusting to this new normal. This approach has similarly benefited Canvas Property Group’s investment affiliate Morgenstern Capital, which acquires multi-family and mixed-use properties in New York’s five boroughs. The same collaborative tools have enabled Morgenstern Capital’s acquisitions team to continue actively searching for new deals and working on existing projects. Our investor mentality fuels thoughtful property management and deal execution across our brands, anticipating and resolving issues critical to both short-term cash flow and long-term value. The synergies between the companies elevate Canvas Property Group from a traditional third-party property manager.

While it’s difficult to predict protocols and procedures that will become commonplace in multifamily properties post-pandemic, the importance of remaining customer-service driven through digital tools that bridge the physical gap between residents, management, ownership and smart building services that residents can leverage for increased utility and comfort, whether during a crisis or not, will be lasting.

As the city reopens, building owners, property managers and decision makers can count on tech to pave the path forward.