On Your Marks…
The three most important things in real estate are location, location, and location. The list for multifamily housing has always been more interesting and may soon become even more so with the inclusion of something unexpected: speed.
Specifically, Internet speed for residents. As people spend more time online and more electronic devices connect to the Internet, high-speed Internet access has become increasingly desirable. Sufficient bandwidth is rapidly becoming a necessity, especially for younger generations who have grown up with the Internet.
As Lauren Boston of the National Apartment Association reports, multifamily housing market research firm J Turner Research recently asked students’ opinions on the importance of technology in student housing. They found that over half of students spend more than three hours a day online. As a result, 64% of students would consider relocating if Internet speeds failed to meet their expectations.
The survey also found that Internet speed is an important amenity for students. It was in the top three most desired amenities, topped only by large bedrooms and effective cell phone connection. As smartphones grow in popularity, access to wireless bandwidth will become increasingly important for mobile phone users.
For property managers, especially those managing student housing, there are several key steps that should be taken to maximize Internet speeds and meet residents’ technological expectations.
First, questions about Internet speeds and expectations should be included in resident surveys. Residents may not complain about speed issues upfront, so by proactively asking them what they think managers can identify fixes and improvements that need to be made before residents get frustrated or fed up with lousy Internet performance.
Second, take direct control of bandwidth infrastructure and set aside capital to maintain and upgrade it. Although third-party companies can offer to manage online infrastructure, managers need to be able to react quickly to issues with something as important to residents as online connectivity and this is easier to do with direct management of the infrastructure. For the same reason, it is imperative to have resources set aside for upgrading the technology as needed. Lacking a plan for infrastructure improvement leaves managers vulnerable to falling behind residents’ changing expectations.
Third, learn about the technology in depth, or hire someone who knows it. Information technology is constantly changing, and finding the best solution is essential to maximize the return on capital investment. It is worth obtaining technological expertise from a third-party if there isn’t time to develop it internally, though as explained above, it is important to manage the infrastructure internally.
As the World Wide Web weaves its way into the fabric of everyday life and the tech savvy Millennial Generation enters the market for rental properties, a high-quality Internet connection is becoming more than a mere amenity. It may soon be regarded as an essential utility by those accustomed to having it. For multifamily property owners, there is no time to waste in developing an effective plan for Internet service management. The race for high-speed Internet has already begun.
What’s your take on high-speed Internet? Already have a plan for it? Let us know what you think – here or on our Facebook page.