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    Key takeaways:


    • Smart home tech upgrades are an investment in your rental properties that delight renters and make managing rentals easier.
    • The evolution of smart home tech is about to make another big leap forward with the new Matter, the new smart home standard.
    • Upgrades such as smart leak sensors can protect your investment property and send notifications when maintenance emergencies arise.


    As a rental property owner, you can’t afford to have properties that don’t catch the eye of your future renters. You also can’t afford to hold onto rentals that don’t retain your current residents, either. Every smart (and successful) property owner knows that keeping reliable renters long-term yields the best cash flow.

    With that in mind, what if you could make managing your properties much easier through a few simple changes to your rentalsall while making your renters happy? This is no hypothetical question: the solution exists now. Your rental homes just need to get “smart,” too.

    Smart home devices are a worthwhile investment for your properties that make rental management easier and benefit even your residents. Yet, not all rental tech is capable of delivering the solutions you need to beat the competition.

    When comparing smart home enhancements to potential upgrades, it helps to understand the history of smart tech in rental homes. This will ultimately help you to pick updates that make the most sense for a property owner focused on return on investment (ROI).



    From small steps to smart tech


    The foundations for today’s smart homes actually have roots as deep as the early 1900s. Devices such as washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers went from novelty items to household items. For some renters today and in select rental markets, these are still considered luxuries. So, if you’re planning for upgrades and don’t yet offer these features, start there.

    From those earliest devices, housing tech took a giant leap forward. Though it took decades for technology to revolutionize the future, WiFi as we know it today began emerging as early as the late 1990s. At that time, computers were smaller, networked, and ready for smart home innovations to take off. In 1999, Z-Wave was launched, a technology built strictly for home automation.

    Z-Wave was able to control residential appliances and other devices such as lighting control, security systems, and locks. Even windows, garage door openers, and the thermostat connected to your heated pool could be operated by Z-Wave. Zigbee, another connected-home technology, was released around the same time. These technologies work via a mesh networka network of interconnected devices that share data to help signals reach every inch of a propertyeven if the overall WiFi signal is weak.

    Still, it’s worth pointing out that these advances in technology are now a thing of the past. 2022 is an exciting year for property investors because you get to be at the forefront of “the next big thing”the Matter technology suite.


    Why Matter should matter to rental property owners


    One of the main challenges investors face when looking to retrofit their properties with smart technology is that every manufacturer seems to have thrown their hat into the ringcomplete with their own proprietary software for each device. This has created a technological “Wild West” for device compatibility. Maybe your smart lights will work with the Google suite, but what about with Apple Home?

    Forcing your renters to have multiple apps just to turn on a nightlight defeats the ease that originally made smart homes appealing. Technology that should have made our rentals more connected has done the opposite. Trying to navigate the modern smart home is often more of a hassle than a benefit. This is where the Matter platform intends to step in and legitimately deliver a seamless experience.

    Smart phone with lines connected to devices at home


    Rather than trying to optimize the technology inside your home, Matter offers “plug and play” simplicity, integrating devices across preferred brands and apps into a central hub. What makes Matter stand out from failed past attempts is that it is the brainchild of 200 different manufacturers, including Google and Apple.

    The Matter platform also takes advantage of existing, ubiquitous technologies like Bluetooth and WiFi to assist devices in communicating locally. Backed by some of the biggest names in tech (and their adjacents), Matter also has the momentum to make a difference.



    Smart integration isn’t just for your renters


    A united front for smart home tech sounds great for your renters. But there are some solutions for easier property management that can benefit rental owners, too! The Matter equivalent for rental management already exists in one place: SmartRent.

    So many modern property management solutions seem to suffer from the same proprietary paywalls and software hurdles that impact smart home tech. SmartRent helps property owners navigate these hurdles to make rental homes desirable to future rentersfrom self-guided property tours to hassle-free parking. Updates focused on streamlining the touring process can have a huge and immediate impact on how applicants view your properties. 

    Beyond upgraded tours, we also recommend property owners to invest in some “nuts and bolts” devices that can seriously help improve your bottom line. With massive property damage caused annually by winter storms across the country (and leaks in general), starting with a smart water-leak sensor can yield huge savings without much upfront spending. Your renters may not be able to detect leaky or at-risk plumbing, so budgeting for preventative devices that make your job easier is always an ROI booster.



    Making smart choices for your rental properties doesn’t have to be hard


    Why not make the entire process of managing your rentals seamless from the start? Poplar Homes frees you from the rental property grind. With our Poplar 360 solution, we handle capital improvements to keep your properties cutting edge–all the while handling the day-to-day maintenance basics your properties need to stay profitable.

    The benefits of an all-in-one system are no longer limited to smart home technology: They start right here. Learn more about how Poplar 360 builds lasting value for our rental property owners year after year.

    Up next: 7 Benefits of tech-enabled property management



    Final thoughts


    With the fierce competition in rental properties, homeowners should look for ways to make their rentals more appealing to consumers. Installing smart devices not only is enticing to tenants but makes property management easier for you. From in-unit smart devices to software like SmartRent, these are the updates that would give you the edge over your competitors and boost your ROI. As there are more options now than ever in the market, picking the best sensible upgrades for your rental is crucial to have a better impact on your property’s performance.




    Learn the ROI on property management using our ROI calculator