When it comes to standing out in a crowded multifamily market, landlords should look to the Internet of Things, says Michael Schall, CEO of San Mateo, Calif.-based Essex Property Trust, which owns and operates 17 multifamily communities on the West Coast.
Coupling the microprocessor with sensors and actuators while being connected to the internet creates a different kind of machine, one that is capable of accomplishing a wide variety of task in almost every industry in household, he said on the REIT's fourth-quarter earnings call with investors.
"The estimates of its growth are extraordinary, for example, our PricewaterhouseCoopers’ report suggest a massive increase in devices connected to the internet from 14 billion in 2014 to 50 billion by 2020," he said.
IOT products that relate to housing have hit the market and they are mostly focused on single family housing at this point involving devices that they can remotely control a variety of system including locks, alarms, blinds and garage doors.
But, it is not difficult to image a refrigerator that reorders essential food items or a device that reports a malfunction or leak, Schall said. "With reductions in cost and integration of common item into comprehensive systems, you will start to seeing an IOT devices in apartments."
"They should allow us to utilize our properties productively by understanding traffic patterns, improving property security, while reducing cost and becoming more efficient and knowledgeable in our use of utilities," he said.