According to market research company Gfk, more than half of all US consumers are now using smart home/Internet-connected devices to control or automate functions such as entry, temperature and lighting. But the multifamily industry has been much slower to adopt this technology, reluctant to make the investment when there’s no way to predict the ROI. That’s finally beginning to change, at least when it comes to new construction.
“We’re starting to see many of our owners trying new things,” said Sherry Freitas, Greystar’s managing director, real estate strategic service. “They dabble a little bit in the latest and greatest, like smart locks or smart thermostats.”
Another technology, keyless entry intercoms, has been put into place in about 40 Seattle apartment buildings so far, with 20 more slated by the end of the year. The apartment buildings with this technology include West Edge (Urban Visions), Smith & Burns (Mack Urban), Helios (Equity Residential), Junction 47 (Equity Residential) and Odin Apartments (Equity Residential).
Butterfly MX provides tenants with keyless entry, two-way video calling and managed access for service providers such as housecleaning or dog walkers. The technology tethers cloud-based software to touchscreen hardware. Property managers get photo-, date- and time-stamped logs of door entries as well as integrations with property management systems including Yardi, Entrata, MRI and Realpage. The company was founded by Cyrus Claffey, Matthew Knoff and Kunal Shah.
“In the Seattle market, there are 15,000 to 20,000 people moving there per year,” Claffey tells GlobeSt.com. “This is due to companies such as Google Cloud, Amazon and Boeing being located there. There is a burst of building activity with the need for more housing.”
Within these new commercial buildings, each requires a slight variation based on individual entry needs. For example, the Elements, a 350-unit multifamily building in Seattle, was a unique entry property because it includes a mixed-use component. During the repositioning effort, the keyless entry intercom technology proved important with numerous tenant types of office and retail, in addition to multifamily. The building owners requested that Butterfly provide multiple directories to allow access to both the multifamily and office tenants, Claffey says.
This technology is currently in 2,000 US buildings and 150,000 apartment units. This translates to approximately 7,000 door release transactions per day. Since 2015, there have been 4 million door releases.
Oftentimes, owners roll out the technology throughout a portfolio, Claffey tells GlobeSt.com. Clients range from class-A multifamily properties such as AvalonBay Communities to small Manhattan walk-ups to student housing portfolios. Recently, Trinity Financial integrated ButterflyMX at Boston East, its new community of 200 luxury apartments on the East Boston waterfront near downtown Boston. And, ButterflyMX signed a contract with Greystar.
The systems are constantly monitored for threats and hacks, Claffey tells GlobeSt.com. All servers are secure and release transactions are encrypted and authenticated. Residents have PIN access.