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The future of a thriving residential community in Build to Rent

Communities are the heartbeat of Build to Rent schemes. With the changes imposed by Covid-19, StarRez share their insights on the future of a thriving residential community.

By Travis Knipe, Chief Executive Officer, StarRez

At the heart of successful communities are thriving residential communities. And the best indicators of these communities are engagement, health and wellbeing, connection and community.

Welcoming the engagement hybrid model

Resident engagement was previously focused on in-person activities and has now shifted to virtual events. We, at StarRez, believe that a hybrid of both virtual and in-person events will be an excellent opportunity to engage more residents in the future.

There is so much more to resident engagement than just offering events. Are people attending them, are they having a great experience, and are your operational team able to see at-a-glance which residents are highly engaged and those that appear to be disengaged? Solutions to understand these trends through the use of data and analytics will be an essential aspect moving into the future and can reshape Build to Rent developments.

Resident health and wellbeing

In terms of the properties, relevant indicators are the utilisation of space and condition. Are occupancy levels high, retention high, turnover low, shared spaces and amenities well utilised, and common area damage low? 

Cleaning standards are now more critical than ever and will have a significant impact on the appeal of your property. So, the level of cleanliness, condition of rubbish/trash bins, and overall presentation of the spaces will also help you to see a thriving residential operation versus a poorer performing asset. 

Touchless elevator
Touchless elevator

Rethinking design

While architectural design is a passion of mine, it’s not my expertise – but I can share my discussions and observations. Recent events have highlighted the need for living that offers fresh air (window or balcony options will be in demand and a priority for residents), possibly larger refrigerators/storage and working from home space. 

StarRez quickly adapted to over 150 team members over four countries (Australia, United Kingdom, United States and Canada) to work from home. Ensuring that people have a nice work from home space is now an essential part of our working life. We’ve already seen some clever designs in the Built to Rent and coliving schemes that allow a compact, but useful desk that folds out and can easily pack away emerge as great innovations.

Touchless Tap
Touchless Tap

Innovation with technology

From a technology standpoint, you all have the core needs of enquiry, leasing, electronic contracts and billing. There are many options for this, but how many solutions can go further and offer you insights on your resident engagement? Powerful dashboards, analytics, communication tools, alerts, and events management tools should all form the foundation of your robust technology platform. 

Innovation with technology will help transform the resident experience. Touchless move-in booking times to arrive or use shared spaces will help you provide a great experience. Home automation voice technology can help enable more on/off type commands without physical touch.

Gesture technology can also be a great help. Think about installing touchless taps/faucets in shared bathrooms and kitchens. You could also use sensor or gesture technology on doors to bathrooms.   

Contactless move in/out, payments, and more can really streamline your operation and ensure a safe and thriving residential community. Green technology and sustainability are also an essential aspect I have not covered here, but we view it as foundational to a successful community.

As you can see, I’m very passionate about every aspect of a thriving residential community. 

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