The multifamily industry may be embracing technology from a marketing perspective, but when it comes to organizing leads and lease expirations, the third-party products available are often found to be wanting.
After sampling a handful of business solutions from third-party software companies to help manage leads, Houston-based real estate trust Camden found the products to be just “OK,” like many other REITS, signaling a gap in the industry.
“Something was lacking,” says Kristy Simonette, senior vice president of strategic services at Camden.
So, given the difficulty in finding software that satisfies their needs, some of the bigger multifamily owners have instead turned to their own in-house intelligence.
“We found that at this point, most of the software that’s out there does not have the variables that we want to be able to address and develop around,” says Nick Alicastro, vice president of business development at Irvine, Calif.-based Western National Property. Western National’s in-house team instead develops their own application to handle renewals, generate renewal letters, and micro-manage lease expirations. Though they’re also beta-testing third party software, they find that the options are incomplete–it only has bits and pieces of what they’re looking for.
For Camden, the tools found beyond the revenue management space may satisfy only about 75 percent of what they’re looking for, so there’s no point in outsourcing the intelligence.
“The problem is they’re really expensive,” Simonette says. “It’s hard to justify an additional expense on something like that when we’ve been doing a pretty good job on doing it in-house.”
Revenue management and business intelligence tools have been critical components to tracking rental data, but in terms of tracking leads, there seems to be a dearth of mainstream software that can work across multiple locations, asset types and market conditions.
“We have the people in place that already track this stuff,” Simonette says, adding that such intricate tools are more satisfying for smaller portfolios, or can be more effectively used at a community level.