Dan Hunt isn't exactly sure who the buyers of Hunt Associates' high-end condos are going to be three years from now, but he's positive that they are going to have in-unit access to whatever technology floats their boat.
“[With] two developments that we break ground on this year, I am sure we will make the decision to go full bore,” says the president of the Minneapolis-based apartment and condo developer. “At the high end of the market, residents want to know that they have the latest and greatest and also have the ability to update. We want to have the technology conduits already in the walls— people moving into our condos in 2010 are going to want to just plug and play.”
Hunt is not alone when it comes to investing in behind-the-walls infrastructure. Leading all other tech categories, infrastructure in wiring was cited by 43 percent of respondents to the 2008 Strategies Survey as a top IT investment, outpacing revenue management and Web marketing (tied at 37 percent) as the No. 1 place multifamily firms plan to put their tech dollars (see Figure 5, below).
“We have had complementary Wi-Fi at our club houses for years,” says Jennifer Stull-Wise, vice president and residential asset manager at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Ram Realty Services. “The thing we are trying to do is think 10 years out and determine whether to add fiber or CAT-5 or CAT-6 or whatever the latest cable is,” she says. “Basically, [we want] that asset to still be at the top of the market five years after it is developed.”
That's not to say that all 2008 tech expenditures will have to wait for a long-term ROI. For multifamily firms catering to luxury markets, high-end amenities are the key, and more often than not those amenities are facilitated by silicon. “Our residents want to use technology and have everything at their fingertips,” says Michael Mendillo, president of Wentworth Property Management Corp.
This year, the West Long Branch, N.J.-based firm will power up its portfolio with Techcierge—an electronic amenities system manufactured by Hollywood, Fla.-based Simplikate Systems.
“We just rolled it out with great success to our high-rise active adult communities,” Mendillo explains. “It gives them [access to] everything from valet services to making a reservation at a local restaurant or getting a tee time at the golf course.”