Over the last few decades, property technology, or 'proptech' has completely transformed how we live and work. Historically, the real estate industry has been slow to embrace technology - which means many co-op and HOA boards are missing out on the cost-cutting and time-saving benefits of proptech. And perhaps the most impactful form of real estate technology is smart, unified access control.
Gone are the days of push-button intercoms connected to in-unit buzzers that required residents to be home to let in their guests, service providers, and delivery carriers. You can also say goodbye to outdated card readers that have to be programmed on-site, as well as traditional door locks that must be constantly re-keyed and metal keys that must be replaced. Today, you can instead invest in one unified property access control solution to streamline the access experience into — and throughout — your building.
Property Access Rethought
Modern access control technology enables a convenient yet secure property-wide access experience with multiple entry methods. From the front entrance to the unit doors, the right system covers every access point. For example, residents can let in their visitors via video call with a video intercom at the front door or gate. Vehicle readers that pair with windshield stickers are a convenient solution for your parking garage or the entrance of your gated community. This way, residents with a vehicle sticker can simply drive up to the gate or garage to gain access — no fumbling with a credential!
But unified property access doesn’t stop at the front entrance. By installing keypads and card readers — that pair with your entryway hardware — at shared spaces and amenities, you guarantee that only authorized users can navigate the building without hindering access for residents. Even better: Protect entire floors of your building by installing elevator controls that require credentials to travel between levels. Furthermore, residents can protect access to their individual units when you invest in smart locks for each unit door.
You may be wondering, with so many hardware devices, isn’t my property access system sure to become too complicated for residents to use and manage effectively?
The answer is: No! With a unified property access control solution, all of your devices are connected. In other words, they all work together and “talk” to each other using the same software. You can even opt for a mobile-based system that turns residents’ smartphones into access credentials. When your building’s access system pairs with a mobile app, residents can take access management on the go, unlocking doors and gates from anywhere they bring their smartphones.
If you’re starting to envision this type of system at your property, you might be wondering whether it’s worth the investment. So let’s look at the specific — and possibly surprising — advantages of upgrading your condo or co-op building’s access control system.
Lower Operating Costs
A modern, unified access control system requires less hardware than its predecessors. As a result, you’ll spend significantly less on installation and maintenance. Additionally, most new systems offer automatic software updates, meaning you’ll never be left with outdated software. Beyond hardware maintenance and software updates, a smartphone-based access control system also reduces the cost and hassle of rekeying locks by shifting to mobile credentials.
Unified access is especially economical for condo and co-op buildings with overnight staff. If your building does, you’re likely under-utilizing your staff’s time during the late-night third shift. Why not let your access control system do the work of vetting visitors and managing access during these quiet hours? This allows onsite staff to handle more important work such as property security.
Streamline Deliveries & Prevent Package Theft
Does your building struggle with missed deliveries, package theft, or just overwhelming numbers of packages arriving each day? Most multifamily properties do.
A unified property access system can help immensely with package management. For example, installing the right video intercom at the front entrance ensures that delivery carriers can gain access and complete deliveries even when there’s no onsite staff or the recipient isn’t home. A unified access system also prevents package theft because carriers can leave packages inside the building, in a package room, package locker, or right outside a resident’s door, rather than in the building’s lobby.
Save Time for Boards & Management
If there’s one thing building’s boards and their property managers don’t have, it’s free time. When your access system is cloud-based, instead of spending hours adding and removing tenants, updating access permissions, and granting access to guests, you can do all of this on the go.
If desired, cloud-based systems can even be configured for unit owners who rent to Airbnb guests or short-term renters and need to adjust property access permissions frequently. It’s also great for granting access to vendors like maintenance workers and cleaning crews. Instead of meeting service providers at the property to let them in, you can remotely grant them access without compromising security.
Finally, your property can also save time by integrating your access system with your building’s property management software. The best unified access control solutions integrate with software you probably already use, like Yardi, Entrada, Realpage, or Condo Control. By integrating your access system with your property management software, you can avoid the tedious manual work of managing multiple databases.
Improve Security & Accessibility
The older your access control system, the more likely it is susceptible to security breaches. However, many newer systems log all entry events, which management and residents can then review at any time. And since many modern access control systems include a camera, residents can visually confirm who’s requesting property access before letting them in. If you have a multi-story building, you can even choose a system that includes elevator controls, which restricts visitor access to certain floors. For example, when a resident grants building access to their guest your fobbed elevators can automatically unlock for the visitor and only allow them to access that specific resident’s floor.
It's important to consider the average visitor experience at your condo or co-op - including those with disabilities. Even for visitors without disabilities, an old or ailing intercom will prove frustrating. And for visitors with disabilities, hard-to-push buttons, hard-to-read text, and static voice calling could render the entry system difficult or even impossible to use. If you notice visitors struggling to use your system because of their physical abilities, it may be time to upgrade.
Altogether, these security and accessibility features give residents peace of mind, protect your building and assets, and make your property safer while ensuring that residents and authorized guests are able to access common areas and amenity spaces without difficulty.
Increase Property Value & Revenue
Investing in a unified access control system makes your building operate more efficiently and in turn, allows you to reduce your property’s maintenance fees, thus making the building and units within more appealing (and valuable!) to future buyers.The right access system can also help your building generate additional revenue by monetizing amenity spaces. Without a system in place, it’s hard to restrict amenity access to only those who pay usage fees. But a unified access system makes it easy to adjust who’s allowed to enter certain amenity spaces.
Aaron Rudenstine is CEO of ButterflyMX, a New York-based property technology company specializing in smartphone-based access control.