Friday, December 30, 2016

Emerging controversy over what the impacts of the U District upzone will be

Since we originally published the mayors proposed zoning changes to the U District, there are emerging discrepancies between housing activists and city planners regarding what the net impacts to affordability, lost housing units and displaced households will be.  See the updated Times article here.


Original post from 10/15/16:
Zoning changes throughout Seattle have driven a boom in large residential projects, including West Seattle and Ballard among others- and the University District looks to be the next new frontier. 
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Monday unveiled a growth plan for the University District that includes some major zoning changes now headed to the City Council. The zoning changes, by allowing developers to build taller, would trigger a new program requiring them to include some rent-restricted units in their projects or pay to help build such units elsewhere.
The UW has been pushing for its namesake neighborhood to grow into a dense “innovation district” for tech startups and workers. But skeptics are concerned about impacts to low-income residents, small-business survival and open space.
Interestingly, the growth in rental units throughout Seattle hasn’t significantly impacted rent rates, although some areas have seen slower growth in rents, and smaller properties have to be adept and competing for qualified tenants.
The full Seattle Times article on this item was posted here.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rental industry and investment property management predictions for 2017- final topic of a 3 part series

Mobile and related technology will continue to deliver new solutions in property management.
In our year-end series about property management trends in the next year, we first talked about how online payment adoption among tenants will continue to grow in 2017, and outlined how new renters insurance offerings will enable property managers to drive more consistent insurance requirements within leases and rental agreements.

In our final series installment, let’s talk about how mobile and related technology will continue to deliver new solutions to specific areas of leasing and management for rental properties.
From showings to inspections and move-ins, property managers use a hodgepodge of tools and processes to effectively manage these activities.  Technology has enabled some improvements with these, but they haven’t matured as fully scaleable solutions.   In 2017 and beyond, expect to see technology continue to mature into more mainstream solutions in the following areas:

Keyless entry: There are a few mobile apps on the market currently that let prospective renters more easily tour units without the property manager needing to be on-site. They have some obvious shortcomings, however, including that in-person showings are an integral part of the leasing process in which property managers are able to sell the best features of a unit and immediately answer questions from prospective tenants.  This may, however, continue to grow as a tool for larger multiplex properties with centralized leasing offices.

Virtual reality-guided tours: An upgrade to the panoramic 3-D room tours that we’ve grown accustomed to, in-depth virtual reality tours will enable prospective renters to experience the property without having to step inside the building.  Markets such as Seattle with a high rate of non-local renters moving in, this is a technology that will benefit managers in providing remote showings and marketing, streamlining the process for tenants needing a find a unit before relocating to a new area.

Remote monitoring: The rapid advent of mobile-enabled cameras provide new opportunities for property managers to remotely monitor external areas of a property, pinpointing problems without depending on or waiting for a tenant to report them.  Watch for technology in this space to coalesce into more robust and affordable solutions available to a broad segment of properties and managers over the next year or more.

As we said at the start of this series, while it’s hard to make concrete predictions, it’s clear that technology will continue to have a major impact on the solutions available for property managers, and by extension- renters, vendors and owners, which will improve the efficiency, effectiveness and consistency of property management without raising overhead costs for the business or for owners significantly.  Together, this presents huge ROI opportunities for property management.