By Jack Stubbs
In the current era of commercial real estate (CRE) tech, many tech-based platforms are striving to streamline the commercial and residential property management industry.
Yardi Breeze, a product that was launched in Orlando, Florida in October 2017, is a property management software platform that aims to help users navigate the process of commercial and residential property management.
We recently spoke with Mark Smith, director of marketing at Yardi Breeze, about the platform, the services it provides industry professionals, and how it seeks to contribute to changes in the property management industry.
What is the scope of the platform, both demographically and geographically? Who within the real estate industry does the platform serve?
Right now, Yardi Breeze targets residential and commercial property management companies with [less than] 1,000 units or [less than] 1 million commercial square feet. In the coming quarters in 2018, we will introduce self-storage and condo/[Homeowner Association] capabilities. Later in 2018, we will introduce functionality for Canadian property management companies.
From a broader perspective, what is the current state of the property management industry, both locally and regionally?
In the last decade, we have seen tremendous growth in the small residential and commercial property management market. By and large, the operators of these companies are working with only mission-critical staff and are wearing many hats. Many operators use Excel or Quickbooks to address their property management needs because they do not have the time or budget to implement a more tailored system. But those programs don’t do everything property managers need them to do—marketing, leasing, maintenance, [which] are all part of their day-to-day.
In the current age of CRE tech, there are many online platforms that provide the same services as Yardi Breeze (streamlining data in one’s portfolio of properties, simplifying the relationships between tenants and property managers, synthesizing property data, etc.). What makes Yardi Breeze unique from other platforms and why should an investor choose it over another CRE platform?
The industry is replete with software providers, many of which offer good systems, but the overhead involved with training, configuration and data conversion often extends well past one month or more. Our product engineers took Yardi’s 30-plus years of experience and went to great lengths to ensure that an operator with a relatively small number of properties could be fully up and running within a day, including online marketing and tenant portals.
Cost is also a big factor for small operators. Many solutions require an upfront payment for a year or more of service. Yardi Breeze has a simple pricing: $1 per unit per month. Monthly billing occurs in arrears, so operators can pay as they go rather than commit to a large cash outlay before they even get started. We think this represents a big deal in an operation where cash flow can be tight.
The platform is built for small- to mid-size owners and managers of single-family homes, multifamily and commercial properties. What accounts for this strategy and what are the advantages/disadvantages of focusing on these specific property types?
In addition to there being a lack of affordable, full-featured solutions for this market, we feel that it is being underserved, particularly when it comes to support. Yardi Breeze offers in-app, instant live chat support, which our current clients are raving about. Our average support response time is 19 seconds. That means that in the time it used to take to look up your old software provider’s tech support phone number (and leave a message), Yardi Breeze clients already have their answer.
In the current era of CRE tech, successful products are those that are intuitive to use. How will Yardi Breeze ensure that it is implementing the most cutting-edge technology into the platform?
We feel Yardi Breeze is far and away the most simple and intuitive software to learn and use. And with on-screen live chat support, our users quickly gain confidence. Yardi Breeze is optimized for use on any device, and we have even incorporated ways to use the camera of your phone or tablet to automatically upload photos and scan data from driver’s licenses. Yardi Breeze also utilizes Google address completion to speed up and ensure accuracy whenever an address is entered.
Looking forward, what are some of the challenges that property management platforms will face in an increasingly competitive and saturated marketplace? Specifically, what factors will influence the ability of CRE platforms to impact/navigate the real estate industry?
Software platforms must adapt not only to the demands of their clients, but increasingly to the demands of their clients’ tenants. Many modern apartment residents have made a lifestyle choice to rent instead of buy, and therefore demand a wide range of services and amenities and have come to expect that all or nearly all of their goods and services needs can be satisfied through their phones.
An ever-increasing number of these services will need to be addressed by or at least integrated in to a community’s software platform. Online applications, electronic rent payments and text messaging are now almost basic commodities. New advances in smart home automation, security, review management and even package delivery tracking are examples of recent trends that will only grow in demand and will need to be addressed in a simple, streamlined manner within your software.
Is the implementation of technology now more of a necessity—rather than a preference—for companies looking to stay ahead of the curve? Over the last 2 to 3 years, how as adoption of technology continued to play a role?
The old saying, “there’s an app for that,” is as relevant today as it has ever been. Tech-at-your-fingertips has exponentially increased the speed of nearly everything we do. And there are countless examples of really great tech design that is simple and intuitive to use. In my mind, the ubiquity of such apps puts pressure on software providers to up their games because both renters and operators are used to seeing a rising tide in functionality and ease of use in all the technology with which they interact. For software providers and community operators alike, it is no longer just good enough to provide a service. You need to do it in a way that provides an easy and enjoyable user experience.
Looking ahead, is there anything in particular that concerns or excites you about the state of the commercial and multifamily real estate markets? Do you foresee any trends that will significantly impact the property management industry over the next 12 to 18 months?
More and more, we are seeing residents rent as a matter of lifestyle preference, rather than by necessity. They are looking for convenience, flexibility, and particular array of amenities and features that compensate for the opportunity cost of not owning a home. We feel that an increasing ratio of a property manager’s time must be dedicated to efficiently marketing their properties, managing reviews and catering to their renter’s expectations. Their property management software should complement these activities whenever possible and never serve as an administrative time drain.