Self-showing and smart locks are taking over the US property management and real estate industry. They have their pro's and cons, listen to Carla and Adrian dissect each one in this episode.
Welcome to Canada's Property Management Podcast, your number one resource for investing, managing, and maximizing the value of your real estate assets. And now here's your host, Carla Browne and Adrian Schulz, Canada's rental property experts.
Carla Browne (00:19):
Welcome back, Adrian. We are here again for our podcast, and today we are talking about something that I know you're very much using. And so we really want to dig into this to give some people some insight on self-showing and smart locks.
Adrian Schulz (00:34):
You said welcome back and I feel like I haven't left, but thank you. Yeah, self-showing and smart locks. So this is something that is really a big thing in the US and it's slowly making its way into Canada. And from a high level perspective, what it is when you go and you're a perspective tenant and you want to look at a rental property, you want to view it, you go online and you book, on a calendar, you book the showing yourself, you are then sent a request for some additional information such as your photo ID. The booking is then confirmed and you get a code on your phone that allows you to self-show.
So then you go to the rental property to view it. You put in your code or you use a Bluetooth connection with a smart lock. You take a look around and when you're done, you close the door, you leave, and then there's an automated follow up from the property management company. So as I said, this is quite big in the US, it's commonly used, and it is making its way into Canada. And I think today we just want to bounce back and forth on is it really going to arrive in Canada? Do you think it's a good or a bad thing? And then I can share a little bit about my personal experience. So based on what I've told you, what do you think about it?
Carla Browne (02:03):
Well, I guess I wanted you to really dig in on what was the smart lock versus the dumb lock, but maybe we can get there because I always find that terminology interesting. How can a lock be smart? But-
Adrian Schulz (02:15):
And you know I always have a shovel, right?
Carla Browne (02:17):
Adrian Schulz (02:18):
To dig myself out.
Carla Browne (02:20):
Exactly. The question that I wanted to ask because we're not currently in my franchise anyways, there might be some of our offices across Canada and I think there is one in particular that is using this technology. And I have been very fascinated by it because I do think that there's a lot of great features to it, but how are you finding people leaving all of this personal information? They've got to send ID, they got to put in credit card. Is the code only then available for certain time period? And how do you make sure that the keys go back in or is there no keys that come out? Is it just simply a code to access and how does it lock? So if you could just walk us through what that looks like.
Adrian Schulz (03:02):
Yeah. So there are various providers in the marketplace that offer the technology. Some are the full package from calendar to the app to the credential checking to the actual physical smart lock. Other landlords or property managers have a baked in house solution such as potentially using something like a Calendly and then using a manual smart lock where you issue a Bluetooth security code that expires, right? Most of these smart locks do actually have the ability to expire the code and only have it available at a certain day in time through a web portal. And we're talking about... This is not magic. These are smart locks that are actually readily available at your local hardware store, right? But some of them hook into other pieces of software.
So as far as what can you do? It depends on which technology platform that you're using. And I think as an individual and investor, the starting point if you're using a property manager or a leasing agent, the starting point would probably be the same as what we're doing here, which is on the inside locks, right? So this would be on like a triplex, fourplex, or multifamily. Using the smart lock, it's say $150 give or take, on the interior doors that connect to Wi-Fi that allow you to give access and to stop access via internet. And then the perspective tenant would have to have a Bluetooth compatible app that lets them in and out. To avoid some of those monthly reoccurring costs, you could even ask for them to email you or to text to your business line a copy of a photo ID, okay?
And I know that other landlords go one step further and actually ask for a credit card number that gets a certain dollar amount preauthorized. It's not a transaction, it's a preauthorization, so that in case they do end up having a quick party in that 30 minute window that they're allowed in and out, then you've got something to put a charge through. And of course there'd be an electronic viewing authorization that one would sign electronically as well. So the bottom line is there are many different approaches to this. The question is, do you as a national property management brand and as a local property manager in your market, do you feel comfortable and safe about looking at self-showing and investigating it further?
Carla Browne (05:48):
I don't know if it's a matter of... Well, it is a matter of safety. I think it's-
Adrian Schulz (05:53):
Carla Browne (05:53):
For me, I think we have to work one on one with our investors to make them understand how we protect the property. There's going to be, I think, pros and cons in whichever one you choose. I do know when I investigated it myself, that you did have to be somewhat careful on temperature control because they weren't necessarily guaranteed for certain winter conditions in Canada. So you have to be careful there. The credit card, the ones that I looked at were all credit card. You had to have a credit card to enable to book the actual showing.
I think there's some extreme efficiencies when you think that people could be showing the property when you don't have staff to necessarily show them in off hours. And I'm assuming that you can schedule or you can have that set so someone can't go in on midnight on a Friday night and stay until 5:00 in the morning, those types of things. So I do think that as it moves into Canada, we'll become more and more comfortable with it, Adrian. So for myself, I wouldn't say I'm not comfortable, but I'm not 100% comfortable. I see that it could be a fantastic thing, especially for hard to reach places that it may be an acreage that's 30 minutes out of the city, that there might be something there in order to do it. But like I said, I don't think we're going to see it across the board yet.
Adrian Schulz (07:05):
Yeah. And I totally agree. And I think you mentioned the being available outside certain hours. It may have a purpose for that. You may even do a hybrid, right?
Carla Browne (07:15):
Adrian Schulz (07:15):
Where you're doing in-person showings at certain times and then you may choose to test. On a Sunday or on a certain night, you may offer some self-showings. And I think the recent pandemic has just highlighted the importance of investigating these different options because one person is going to feel safe with one and another will feel safe with another method. So definitely something to take under consideration and to monitor closely as it does expand here in Canada.
Carla Browne (07:49):
Yeah. The other thing that I could see the use for is when we're turning over properties. So when we're moving out and then moving in and there's some things that need to be done there. So we might have several vendors that are going to the property. Having those locks in place is definitely going to be a time saver for vendors and for the company. So like I said, I think the hybrid, like you mentioned, is probably the way that this is to ease it into your property management business and how I could see it maybe happening. But the reality is it is coming. If it's in the States in the property management industry, and I do know of offices in the States that are using it 100% for all of their showings, which is so interesting, it'll slowly be coming into Canada as well. So something to watch for for sure.
Adrian Schulz (08:30):
Yeah. Now that's real property management.
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