Real estate embraces the digital era in creative ways

Developers are identifying ways to customize experiences for future renters.

At a recent real estate symposium hosted by Santa Clara University, leading Silicon Valley and Western U.S. real estate developers, advisors and managers talked about the influence of the digital era on the commercial real estate industry.

Tech companies, for starters, desire large floor plates over multi-story high rises for their office needs as the collaborative energy and connectivity of their human resources more than doubles when staff are on the same floor. That’s just one example.

As ride-sharing and driverless vehicles become more commonplace, developers are building parking decks on high rise apartment products with the idea that inside of the next 10 years they might convert a whole floor into more apartment units as car ownership drops off.

One innovative developer in the Seattle area with ties to Santa Clara’s real estate school is already deploying creative new design. Main Street Group’s newest development in Downtown Bothell, The Junction Apartments, is a thoughtfully developed six-story mixed-use apartment community that accommodates accommodate ride-sharing vehicle pick up and drop offs with a wide turn around and drop off zone at its entry.

Rooftop drone pads will become common place in the next five to 10 years to make package delivery simpler for renters, while smart home technology is rapidly finding its way into apartments so that developers and managers can help residents manage their apartment experience to their own liking.

The ability of a property manager or developer to customize the living arrangement for an apartment renter is really what this is about. Customized lease terms, new screening techniques, bringing neighborhood conveniences into the living experience, managing utility usage, reduced parking requirements, improved security, connected appliances/electronics and customized social interaction in common areas are all being discussed in development and property management circles. Paying rent with a verbal command through an Alexa in every apartment is being piloted by Everett-based Coast Property Management right now.

What today might be a luxury or novel idea will soon be commonplace for households at every income level as the real estate industry begins to embrace the digital era. Those who accurately anticipate what consumers find useful will come out on the winning side.

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