With the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating proptech in the multifamily industry, Waterton CEO and chairman David Schwartz, and Michael Beckerman, CEO of CREtech, will discuss disruption in a fireside chat kicking off Multifamily Executive’s two-day proptech virtual event, May 25 and 26.
Prior to the event, MFE caught up with Beckerman, who leads the global consulting, media, and conference company devoted to technological innovation in the real estate sector. He shares what’s surprised him most during the pandemic, the industry’s biggest threats, as well as his favorite app.
MFE: What has surprised you the most about multifamily proptech during the pandemic?
Beckerman: What honestly surprised me the most was how, more than any other industry sector, multifamily was incredibly prepared to adjust to the extraordinary disruption the pandemic caused real estate companies from both from an operational as well as a tenant perspective. The fact that so many companies in multifamily had already been investing in technology pre-pandemic, they had a strong foundation with talent, strategy, integration, and deployment being a significant priority for so many. This also enabled so many companies to be able to adopt new technologies during the pandemic in a much more efficient manner such as keyless building access, virtual leasing, VR/AR marketing solutions, and much more.
MFE: Regarding technology, what is the biggest threat for the multifamily industry?
Beckerman: Too many to mention in a short answer, but I would think of it as follows.
1. The threat to real estate companies that do not embrace and lean in to technology will create a story of the “haves” and “have nots” in the industry, and the consumer will prioritize the tech-forward properties;
2. Big tech companies will increasingly move in to capture the renter as a customer and with the ultimate goal of grabbing their data, which will place them at the center of their renter experience, and landlords are vulnerable to losing their grip on the tenant;
3. While landlords will never be replaced, those that service the sector will be increasingly threatened by tech solutions that replace much of the manual tasks humans are doing; and
4. Not focusing on climate technologies to address the sustainability mandate that governments, lenders, and consumers are prioritizing given climate change threats will put multifamily companies at a severe financial disadvantage in the marketplace.
MFE: What piece of advice do you have for a multifamily owner looking to implement new technology?
Beckerman: Follow your peers. It’s not too hard to see where the leading tech-focused multifamily companies are spending their time and money, and I would start there. They obviously did the hard work to vet a lot of these technologies, and you can save on that process but implementing much of what they have already done. Also, I always recommend a high-level SWOT analysis for any company looking to embrace more technology for their company and properties. Understanding what you are currently using, seeing where the deficiencies and opportunities are, benchmarking versus your peers, and also recognizing if your internal resources are sufficient to implement in the most effective manner are the keys to building a successful multifamily tech company.
MFE: Can you offer a bold prediction for future technology for the multifamily industry?
Beckerman: It no longer is called the multifamily industry but part of the “hospitality industry.”
All lines get blurred and traditional models are turned upside down, real estate enters a new age where companies look more like a Marriott hotel chain than a traditional real estate company.
MFE: What’s your favorite app?
Beckerman: Waze. Damn, I sound old (which I am).
Find out more about the Multifamily Proptech virtual event or register at www.mfeconference.com/events/mfe-proptech. Registration is $99, or attendees can get the event free by registering for the in-person Multifamily Executive Conference, Sept. 13 to 15, at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.