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Some insisted that the multifamily sector would lag behind the technology curve. Others believed the industry was bound for a slowdown. 

2019 begged to differ. 

The industry continued to innovate at a frenetic pace in the final year of the decade, as artificial intelligence, intuitive property management systems, virtual reality and advanced cybersecurity measures continued to work their way into apartment buildings. And the downturn that has been predicted for the past several years has yet to arrive. 

On many fronts, 2019 was another promising year in the multifamily industry. While hints of rent control measures sparked in a handful of states, the continued search for a solution to affordable housing and the short-term rental dichotomy remain hot-button issues. Here is a look at some of the positive themes from the year: 

Continued Emergence of AI 

Even as many renters are still beginning to grasp the concept of artificial intelligence, it is helping the renter experience in many ways. Chatbots—not to be confused with virtual assistants—continue to reshape the way renters search for homes. In instant messenger fashion, chatbots were designed to answer simple questions from prospective renters, allowing them to acquire information at any time of the day. But advancements to natural language processing capabilities have allowed chatbots to communicate more thoroughly and offer detailed explanations. 

The ever-increasing use of smart-home devices and intuitive resident portals coincide with the increasingly tech-friendly renter demographic. On the property side, advanced property management systems, heightened cybersecurity platforms and predictive analytics have made life easier for onsite teams and allowed them to automate many mundane, time-consuming processes. 

Renters remain active

The multifamily industry has remained more resilient than other verticals due to an increasingly rent-driven U.S. demographic. Despite longtime hints of a slowdown, national vacancy rates have remained low at 4.7 percent and rents have continued to increase, although not at the meteoric pace of the midpoint of the decade. The modest increase in rents means the sector continues to thrive, and demand continues to outpace supply in many locales. 

Strong renter demand has created healthy competition among apartment operators, which has helped spur the tech revolution as apartment communities aim to differentiate themselves by offering the most innovative homes and amenity spaces. 

Influx of solution-based startups

It’s a good sign that your industry is thriving when several companies are unearthed with the sole purpose of addressing one facet of your trade. Industry conferences regularly feature startups aiming to address one niche of the industry. Examples include virtual butlers, autonomous store providers, advanced pet-screening solutions, car-sharing platforms, transit-screen providers and many more. The growing integration of these solutions throughout the industry continues to improve the end-user experience – from owners and operators to residents. 

As the industry and its renters become more tech-savvy, tech-based solutions designed to foster human connection make more and more sense. 

Overall, 2019 served as a fitting cap to the most promising decade ever experienced by the industry. It has also provided a solid foundation as the calendar flips to the 2020s that are rich with possibilities.

This content was originally published here.

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