Automating your operation and going paperless reduces costs, saves time, minimizes errors and provides greater transparency than manual, paper-heavy processes. Not to mention, it’s healthier for the environment. Despite the numerous benefits, some property management firms have been slow to transition, while others have outright avoided it. Various factors contribute such as poor change management, legal concerns, old school policies and overall lack of awareness. COVID-19 changed the conditions pretty quickly this past year, and landlords were compelled to operate in a more digital environment, accelerated by the spread of the pandemic.
When the CDC recommended social distancing, many offices switched to home workstations and a remote workforce. These guidelines made it difficult for a prospective renter to tour a property in person, which made an impact on leasing offices and occupancy rates across the country. The commercial real estate management industry was tested and in order to compete, companies had to evolve. Traditional firms that ran their business for decades greeting applicants with a warm smile and a handshake suddenly started giving virtual tours and using electronic leasing solutions to keep both employees and potential renters safe.
Virtual tours can save time for prospects and property managers, and increase the visibility of available units by creating a catalog of different unit types with various layouts. Property Managers can even give tours to multiple prospective renters at the same time, after normal business hours, and without having to travel to the property.
Online leasing is convenient, secure and efficient for both the lessor and the lessee. Documents can be stored digitally instead of in manila folders, hiding between files squished together in file cabinets. Instead of wasting paper, electricity and ink, property managers can easily send residents a digital copy for reference with a couple of clicks. But marketing available units online and executing lease documents over the internet is not just about convenience. Transitioning from paper to digital lowers operating costs and makes a positive impact on the environment. Some commercial leases have more pages than a mortgage document, and since there are multiple stakeholders involved in commercial lease agreements, many drafts and revisions are printed and copied before the final version is even signed. In stark contrast, digital leases use no paper, don’t create any waste nor cause harm to any trees.
While new technologies are being used today to create “smart contracts,” some landlords (and tenants) are concerned about whether an electronic signature on a virtual lease is as legally binding and as enforceable as the paper version. The Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act was signed into law in 2000 and states that both the signature and the digital contract are legal.
SS&C SKYLINE® offers a complete end-to-end solution for your entire enterprise. We can help make your day-to-day processes automated, seamless and completely paperless. Our Marketing & Leasing Suite includes websites to showcase available units for rent, process paperless applications, perform background checks and execute a lease electronically. Attract more prospects, convert more applicants, and renew more leases with SKYLINE. To learn more about how going paperless can increase occupancy and streamline your leasing operations, download our "A Guide to Paperless Transformation Strategies for Property Management Companies: Why Digitization is a Critical Factor to Success" whitepaper. For more about going paperless in the property management industry, read our blog posts about digital invoicing or online rent payments.
Written by Evan Schmidt
General Manager, SKYLINE