It’s been more than two years since apartment managers shut down offices, gyms and events when COVID-19 hit in 2020. As COVID-19 wanes across the country, these events are picking back up.
Dana Caudell, president of property management at Wellington, Florida-based apartment operator and builder The Bainbridge Cos., says she is noticing that sentiment change at her company’s properties.
“We've started seeing more engagement with residents, obviously with things opening up,” Caudell told Multifamily Dive. “We do see where there's a need for that socialization.”
In response, Bainbridge is ramping up resident services and events. “We have seen an uptick in involvement,” Caudell said. “Back in the day, you'd have a resident event and maybe have 15 to 20 residents show. Now, we're seeing 50 to 75 to 100 in some cases coming to these events.”
But events aren’t the only things on Caudell’s mind. Here, she talks with Multifamily Dive about tech investment, corporate housing and Florida rents.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
MULTIFAMILY DIVE: What technology investments are you looking at?
DANA CAUDELL: I'm super excited about where multifamily is headed post-COVID. We're still investing in tech. We're actually about to roll out a new business intelligence tool with a startup company, and that will be the real focus. We just rolled out artificial intelligence revenue management across our portfolio to give us a deeper dive into forecasting our projections.
How does this help your on-site associates?
We’re just trying to provide our onsite team with tools that make their life better on a day-to-day basis. They can have all their information housed in one location instead of in multiple dashboards. That has been a focus.
Everyone went that virtual tour route during COVID, as well as adding some self-guided tours. And we've been looking at different models there as well.
We’re also working with a group that helps with corporate housing. We have seen, especially in locations throughout Florida, that some of that corporate housing is coming back into play as well.
Are you talking about short-term rental platforms or is this traditional corporate housing?
These are not short-term rentals. This is a group that is about three years in the making, and they do more corporate housing. They're paying for the 12-month leases for the residents. We haven't rolled it out yet. It's just something that we're looking at piloting — trying to be forward-thinking going into 2023.
Have you used short-term rentals?
Our portfolio is more suburban garden versus some urban mid-rise and high-rise. We have a few mid-rises and high-rises out there but short-term rentals is not something that we've seen a huge push for in our portfolio. We've looked at it, but we also keep our current resident base in mind. And there are concerns there. So we talked through that with a few companies. We just haven't pulled the trigger yet.
Short-term rentals could be something where you're in a perpetual lease-up if you're not paying attention to that lease expiration and just always trying to keep up with that short-term rental space. But as of right now, we just haven't rolled that out across our portfolio.
Do you see Florida cooling off?
In Florida, we've always seen pretty strong rent growth, but not the 30% we've seen in the past few years. We're always looking at your renewals as well. Those have been in the double digits for increases.
Click here to sign up to receive multifamily and apartment news like this article in your inbox every weekday.