The multifamily industry is a constantly evolving space. What was once popular and effective ten years ago is (or should be) a relic with today’s leasing professionals. And one of the biggest catalysts for this change, and the catalyst for change in every other industry, is technology.

For the real estate industry, technological advancements have changed everything. From mobile usage to social media and the way brands connect with their target customers, technology has touched every part of the leasing process from start to finish.

Let’s take a closer look at how technology has changed the multifamily industry over the last 10 years – and how everyone is much better off for it.

Leasing Technology in 2008

Picture 2008. Britney Spears was hot off her 2007 head-shaving incident, the two hit tv series Breaking Bad and Mad Men were just starting, and a soon-to-be President Obama was making serious political waves. In the background, the United States, and the world, is dealing with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, started by a sub-prime mortgage crisis in 2007.

The financial crisis aside, there was still a market for those in the multifamily business. And the technology that leasing teams had at their disposal 10 years ago looked very different than it does today. Apple had just introduced the iPhone 3G, the second generation of iPhone. Even so, while smartphones were available, not many people used or had access to them. And Android devices were just launching in 2008.

Beyond access, even the smartphones of the day didn’t have the capability for FaceTime. In fact, any sort of face-to-face or video mobile communication was still in its early stages. Meaning that, if it was even available, which it likely wasn’t, the quality wasn’t up to par. Also, any sort of 3D images or viewing was only available for a price at theme parks.

Even social media was still in its infancy in 2008. While it may feel like Facebook has been around forever, it had really just been around for 4 years in 2008 and only had around 140 million active users versus the 2.23 billion users it has today. Even the Facebook “like” button didn’t exist yet. That didn’t happen until 2009. And Instagram? Forget it. That was still two years from even launching.

Basically, all the tools and technology today’s leasing teams have at their fingertips to reach their prospective residents? None of that existed 10 years ago.

Leasing Technology in 2018

Fast forward to 2018. Artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things are changing the way people live their lives. Mobile devices are reigning and video is the number one way to get customers’ attention. Over half of today’s videos are viewed on mobile devices.

In fact, live video has become a part of everyday life. Filming and sharing those videos is commonplace. Users can watch 3D videos and play 3D games in their own home or on the go. Facebook now allows users to ‘react’ to posts, beyond just liking them. Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users with their Instagram Live feature growing consistently.

While technology has clearly changed in ten years, so has the way people and brands communicate. In 2008, buyers and renters had to circle potential properties in magazines, today, according the National Association of REALTORS, some 98% of buyers and renters begin their research on the Internet.

One of the biggest changes has come in the form of video, specifically live video. In 2008, nothing existed that allowed prospective residents to truly experience a property from afar. They had to physically be at the property to see what they wanted to see and be able to experience the space. That would often mean multiple property visits in one day, plus re-visiting properties until they decided on one.

In today’s day and age, leasing teams can obviously no longer afford to have that same mentality of expecting prospective residents to come to the property for in person tours. It’s unnecessary and, in most cases, counter-productive. Most of today’s renters don’t have the time to make one visit, much less multiple. Plus, if they only have thirty minutes, they could miss some of the property’s best features.

Luckily, there are tools are out there to be more efficient with touring and leasing. If your leasing team hasn’t moved into this decade and started to look at what the next evolution will be? Well, it’s time to change mentalities and start adopting all that 2018 leasing technology has to offer.

Until next time…keep it real!