By Daniel Berlind, CEO of Snappt on Feb 14, 2023

Apartment employees are burned out. These proptech companies and fintech apps help reduce their hair-on-fire days in real time.

High staff turnover has become a crisis for businesses and startups across the globe— particularly in the real estate industry.

According to the National Apartment Association, after rising steadily since 2010, data analytics show that the average turnover rate at apartment firms reached 33% in 2019, far above the 22% average for all workplaces at the time, according to human resources consultancy Mercer. Last year, those figures rose even higher.

The impacts of the pandemic, where residents were suddenly home 24/7, only exacerbated the trend.  According to NAA, the result was a massive, industry-wide burnout, with some companies reporting turnover rates as high as 70% 

Indeed, a recent survey found that staffing and recruitment was the top challenge for 74% of residential real estate agents and property managers today. People are tired, burnt out, and lacking any initiative to work... and we understand why. We all went through a lot these past few years, but do we know how to move forward?

Treating the symptom, not the disease

Firms are using higher pay, benefits with “real job” hallmarks like 401ks and health insurance, and even just recognition of a job well done to combat the issue.

But those approaches, while warranted, are only a first-line defense. None truly addresses the core problem driving higher turnover for real estate companies: burnout.

To truly reduce the number of hair-on-fire days property staff have at their jobs, companies need to actually shrink their workloads.

Leveraging new technologies — like Proptech — to keep employees happy

This is where onsite proptech and artificial intelligence can help traditional real estate property managers with this issue.

Take, for example, the use of phone and chat bots that use a screening process to reduce, even marginally, the number of redundant questions property staff answer on a given day. 

Ask any leasing agent what happens when they advertise an available unit. They’ll talk about repeated phone calls, texts, and chat messages asking the same thing, like whether the unit comes with parking or if pets are allowed. That info, of course, is typically in the ad, but no matter: as Sartre said, “hell is other people.”

And having to repeatedly field those kinds of mindless queries is a sure pathway to employee burnout.

Bots against burnout — Co-working with Computers

Some bots remove that mundanity from staff’s plates.

One popular example, a bot named Lisa, will actually answer incoming calls in a personable voice, explaining she can’t come to the phone at the moment, but will follow up with a text. The subsequent automated text asks the prospect for questions they have about the unit. When the prospect requests info that’s already in the ad, Lisa happily responds without descending the caller into a personal hell.

Bots like this also alleviate other brain damage among leasing agents, who, in a competitive market, often field numerous calls for advertised units that have already been filled. Following the same workflow described above, bots respond that the unit has been rented, and then present an alternative, available units in co-living or single-family homebuyer spaces.

Other robots help maintenance staff perform routine cleaning – an area that saw a huge workload increase early in the pandemic – so they can respond to more customer-facing issues, such as maintenance requests.

Smart locks and self-tours

No matter if a tenant is looking for a place to rent in New York, Los Angeles, or anywhere else, the real estate market is bustling with other prospective renters all hoping to tour the same properties.

Self-tours, made possible when buildings’ smart locks are tied back to an online leasing management system, allow prospects to look at an apartment without the presence of a sales rep – an approach that’s preferred by an increasing cohort of renters. Meanwhile, leasing agents can pursue additional leads, effectively helping them sell to two prospects simultaneously. More rental applications come out of this method, as the prospective tenants feel in control and not pressured to make a decision on the spot. Virtual tours are also available — and becoming increasingly popular on sites like Zillow.

A smarter sales funnel

Other, even more sophisticated applications can help narrow the sales funnel at the front end. Hence, agents respond first to the hottest leads – those prospects who are most likely to lease, based on results from a predictive real estate tech algorithm. Doing so not only helps increase lead-to-lease conversions, it provides more affirmation for commercial real estate agents by increasing the chances of them hearing “Yes” at the end of the sales process.

Application vetting and fraud prevention

After a prospect applies, Snappt’s proptech takes one more of those brain bruising aspects of property management off employees’ plates: leasing application vetting.

Today, due to a steep rise in apartment application fraud following the wide availability of fake financial documents online – think bogus paystubs and bank statements – leasing agents often have to play detective to figure out if an applicant’s supporting paperwork is legit. But these fraudulent applications are hard to spot with the naked eye.

Snappt’s fraud detection software, which looks at the digital DNA of financial statements to confirm their veracity, takes that detective work off leasing agents’ plates. It either accepts or rejects the application and gives associates an easy, non-confrontational out when there’s an issue.

Perhaps even more importantly, from a staff retention perspective, it provides further affirmation for their efforts, giving them peace of mind that they’re moving forward with a legitimate resident that isn’t going to end up being a waste of their time.


Stemming the turnover tide

Today’s multifamily staff turnover numbers are troubling, and property management firms in the real estate sector are doing the right thing – for their business, residents, and remaining staff – when they put steps in place to hold back the exodus.

By giving employees the proptech tools that help them limit the brain damage they encounter on any given day, forward-thinking property management firms can stem the turnover tide. With a valuation of $100M, Snappt can guarantee; we know our stuff. Real Estate is the largest asset class in the world, so why shouldn’t the proptech industry follow in tune? Property owners and real estate investors alike have relied on Snappt’s real estate technology to advance and improve their user experience... as well as their employee retention rates.

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