Access Control Tech Isn’t a ‘Nice-to-have’ — It’s a Need in 2021

Finally, some good news in 2021. According to CBRE’s report, 2021 U.S. Real Estate Outlook, occupancy levels for multifamily buildings will return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021. And investors are hungry for projects. According to the same CBRE report, investor volume is projected to rise to $148 billion in 2021 — 33% over 2020’s estimate of $111 billion.

The pandemic has completely reshaped multifamily renters’ property expectations. Health and safety features are no longer an afterthought, they’re a requirement. These safety features — including smart locks, cloud security systems, and mobile access control — keep buildings physically and hygienically safer.

Even as we slowly start to get back to some sort of “normal” post-COVID, renters will continue to expect these health and safety measures when choosing a place to live. To meet the demand of today’s renters, access control tech can’t be an afterthought. Building owners and developers must consider these security measures early and prioritize them in the development process.

Consumer expectations have changed
Months and years after the COVID pandemic is behind us, some lingering effects will remain. General awareness of hand hygiene and viral transmission is higher than it has been in a long time. So much so that the global demand for disinfectant wipes and sprays that protect against viruses like COVID is expected to continue to grow at a CAGR of 6% through 2025.

Expectations for cleanliness and safety — especially in public spaces — are top of mind among all consumers. This includes in the space they spend a lot of time, their home. Touchless and mobile app access allow people to enter a building with fewer physical touchpoints.

Access control also allows for more control over spaces that visitors or delivery personnel need access. Owners and developers need to meet these safety expectations if they want to increase occupancy and reduce expensive rental turnover.

Convenience through technology demands higher rents or monthly fees
No doubt, adding new technology and mobile access to the security and amenities budget costs more, but return on investment is immediate. Today’s renters want to live in high-tech buildings. According to Entrata’s survey of more than 1,000 U.S. Residents, out of the ten top things residents are willing to pay a premium for, three are related to cloud-based access control and security.

When renters have access to the amenities they need and want, it improves the tenant experience. They’re willing to pay more and likely to stay longer, cutting down on expensive turnover costs.

Prioritize access control in the planning and building process
Because access control and Proptech are so important to renters of multifamily units, it’s important that builders and operators include security early in the building process — ideally, at the design phase. This is beneficial for a number of reasons.

First, it’s logistical. Once construction begins, it’s much harder (and expensive) to move a stairwell or reduce the number of entrances to a building. When you select the access control technology, you’re implementing the solution before opening the building. Electrical plans, for instance, can be created to take both the needs of the security tech and the physical floorplan in mind, reducing the amount of rework later.

Second, having an integrated security mindset in the building process ensures that you’re thinking about all levels of security — from the height and type of exterior doors to eliminating dead spaces where intruders could go undetected. When you know how the building was designed to function, you’ll know where your security access points are, how many cameras you’ll need, and what Proptech solutions are necessary to keep everyone safer.

Thankfully, many multifamily owners and builders are already thinking about access control technology. According to Propmodo’s Commercial Building Manager’s 2021 Budget Priority Report, 53% of senior leaders, 48% of urban specialists, and 46% of owners plan to implement new technology in 2021. Their top motivation? Improving the tenant experience, cited by 35% of owners. With the right planning and access control tech, we expect multifamily units to not only rebound in 2021 but thrive.


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