Real estate is one of the oldest businesses in the world. For all of human history, people have needed physical space to live, work, and play. There’s only so much land out there, and ever more humans, so it makes sense that real estate tends to get more valuable over time — making it a smart investment for private owners now that we don’t have kings and queens sitting on all of the good stuff. For a long time, making money off of real estate has been as simple as buying low and selling high, and — in the case of income properties — renting the space in the meantime. And, for a long time, renting apartments and houses to tenants was a paper-and-pen, hands-on kind of job.
Now? Not so much. We’re living in the internet age, and that has dramatically changed the ways in which renters hunt for apartments and houses, as well as the ways in which landlords rent out and manage their spaces.
A brave new world
It wasn’t long ago that the internet didn’t exist. Early public internet efforts emerged in the 1980s, but only in the 1990s was the technology widely adopted by consumers. From there, though, it exploded. Online applications took over much of our communication, the internet became essential to many forms of work, and online shopping trends went through the roof.
Then came the smartphone. In the mid-2000s, virtually nobody owned a smartphone (one forerunner, the Blackberry, was adopted by some businesspeople). Now, the vast majority of people have one: 77 percent in 2018, up from just 35 percent in 2011. And Americans use their smartphones for everything from ordering food to getting a hot date — and, yes, they use them to rent apartments, too.
More than 90 percent of would-be renters now start their housing search online. That means that the first way that nine of out of 10 potential tenants see their dream home is on the screen of a mobile device or a computer — not in the pages of a brochure or in person on a tour with a real estate agent.
Furthermore, modern tenants expect convenience. They want to see photos and perhaps even 360-degree interactives of the apartments they’re looking at. They want to be able to fill out applications and file paperwork online. And they want the process to be speedy and, in many cases, to happen largely over computers and mobile devices.
All of this means that landlords hoping to make great profits in the internet age need to adapt — fast.
How to be a landlord in the internet age
Being a landlord is a smart way to build wealth. A landlord has a valuable asset — his or her rental property — which can be viewed as an investment property. In the meantime, it’s an income property. The rent on the space earns the landlord a monthly income. Of course, all of this only works when you have one vital ingredient: a tenant!
And to get a great tenant in the internet age — one who will keep the space clean and well-maintained, and who will pay the required rent in full and reliably — you’ll need to make your space appealing to the modern, tech-savvy renter set.
The easiest way to do this is to get some help from landlord software solutions. When your potential tenants are online, you need to be, too. So turn to an online software solution that makes it easy to post a listing (with photos!), set up a free rental application, and perform background checks.
When you use great landlord software, you don’t have to become an expert at creating apps or managing secure online paperwork. You just need to log in and interact with potential tenants through the app or website. Sounds pretty simple, right? Even in the future, things don’t have to be too complicated.