AvalonBay Communities is one of the largest real estate investment trusts in the world, and NMHC’s third largest apartment owner in the United States. With upwards of 90,000 apartment units across the country, they own and develop multifamily buildings in both urban and suburban environments to appeal to many types of renters.
AvalonBay’s newest development, Kanso Twinbrook, is situated in Rockville, Maryland. Designed to offer the highest quality apartments at the most competitive price points, Kanso Twinbrook is the first development of its kind. By putting technology first, they have elevated the renter experience to keep residents comfortable—and connected—without the sky-high price tag of traditional luxury developments.
“AvalonBay built Kanso Twinbrook and created a new brand to focus on the idea that new development can actually be both higher tech and lower cost to the consumer,” said Karen Hollinger, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at AvalonBay Communities. But to make their idea come to life, the AvalonBay team needed a technology solution that could bring down their costs—without diminishing the resident experience.
Instead of simply rolling out their existing approach, AvalonBay closely partnered with Latch to develop a holistic solution that turned their vision into a reality.
With Kanso Twinbook, AvalonBay set out to reduce their operating costs while still delivering a modern and affordable resident experience. But, with many real estate development costs as fixed expenses, the team had to critically evaluate where they could lower their overhead to pass those cost-savings onto their renters.
“To provide lower-cost housing, we really had to look at every cost that is part of a development and where we could reduce them,” said Hollinger. “It's really hard to reduce the price of land. Taxation doesn't change based on how you build a property. So really, the only variables we could modify were amenities, elevator, utilities and staffing. In order to reduce many of these costs, we had to embrace technology more than we ever have.”
But reducing costs wasn’t AvalonBay’s only priority. They also wanted to create a more streamlined, seamless experience for residents from the first moment they set foot on the property, like with self-guided touring on a prospects’ own terms.
“Our residents not only care about a modern, clean, value priced apartment, but they care about technology,” said Hollinger. “They care about the ability to have friends over, to be able to move in easily, to be able to receive packages. And so our partnership with Latch really looks through every process that provides service to our customers.”
Latch and the AvalonBay team partnered closely together to craft a solution that met all operational needs, while also giving residents the experience they expected. By incorporating Latch smart access devices at common areas and apartment doors, along with Nest thermostats residents can control remotely through the Latch App, residents have a more holistic and convenient smart apartment experience from the moment they step on-site to tour the property.
“Latch has earned my trust by being a good partner and thinking about how my business needs to operate,” said Hollinger. “That means paying attention to the ecosystem, not just the initial sales experience and not just the installation, but how can we partner to keep our residents and associates happy and grow the capabilities of the technology over time.”
And even before move-in, Latch delivers a more seamless experience for prospects at Kanso Twinbrook. Over the last year, Latch worked closely with AvalonBay to develop a self-service touring experience that allows prospective residents to visit the building on their own time and in a safe, contactless way.
“Even before COVID, we recognized that our customers often wanted the ability to tour at nights, on weekends, and maybe not with an associate to best serve their needs. With Latch, they can book online or in person at the showroom, do their ID screening digitally, and be given a code to get into the showroom or into the apartment unit at a time and date of their choosing,” said Hollinger.
“AvalonBay and Latch have really partnered through what we would consider the self-service journey,” she added. “We've lifted the tent on how we want to operationalize the ability for our prospects to do self service touring at a very detailed level—and the Latch has created the technology to make that happen.”
Latch also provided comprehensive support for both property staff and residents. “One of the biggest benefits has been the Latch support throughout the entire process,” said Morgan McDormann, community manager at another AvalonBay property, Avalon Riverview. “They’re always available to answer any questions. They offer support with prompt and effective responses, which is something we weren’t accustomed to with previous vendors. They’re a constant source of support when we need them.”
From enabling contactless unattended leasing during the COVID-19 pandemic to streamlining move-in for new residents, Latch played a pivotal role in simplifying operations to the point that Kanso Twinbrook was able to move their entire property management team off-site.
“Latch has really transformed to be a differentiator in how we develop our communities, how we provide customer service, and how we grow our revenue,” Hollinger said. “Kanso Twinbrook is very exciting because it proves that we are actually able to provide high-quality, modern, new housing at a lower price through technology.”
By enabling all of the things that matter most to Kanso Twinbrook residents, Latch has allowed AvalonBay to deliver an industry-leading resident experience through automation. Because of the success of bringing AvalonBay’s vision to life, the developer plans to partner with Latch on several projects in the future. “We plan to continue our partnership with Latch. At this time, we’re looking at a large volume of buildings, including retrofit buildings—not just new development—where we can use Latch to streamline operations.”
McDormann added, “Now that we’re living with it and seeing the benefits of Latch, we’re behind it 100%.”
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