Why digital twins are a landlord’s best friend (and help keep tenants happy too)

James Morris-Manuel, MD and VP of EMEA at Matterport, explains how digital twins of properties offer an easy way for landlords to win tenants using virtual tours - and help to keep tenants smiling with predictive maintenance

Britain's rental market is booming, despite these troubling economic times, with more than 8.7 million buy-to-let properties worth an estimated £1.7trn a year. Britain is now the fourth-largest residential rental market in the world and as it becomes more competitive landlords are turning to new technologies such as digital twins to reduce void time and ensure tenants are happy. Further, operation costs are only increasing meaning landlords are looking for technology that can reduce their costs and make their lives easier.

Digital twins, which offer 3D ‘models’ of properties so landlords can provide virtual tours, presents tenants with an easy way to find properties that meet their needs. Additionally, they offer landlords the chance to use data to make life easier for tenants; for example by keeping track of problems via Internet of Things (IoT) sensors to manage predictive maintenance. 


Speeding up the rental process

The benefits of digital twins to landlords start with being able to offer virtual tours of properties, providing an honest, information-packed way to ‘view’ properties virtually, helping to build the crucial trust between landlord and tenant. Creating a digital twin of a property is far easier than you might imagine: you can create one using a smartphone camera (or for a more professional finish, book trained technicians with specialist cameras). The data captured is transformed into an interactive 3D model of the rental property which prospective tenants can explore remotely. In larger properties the model can present the full suite of amenities such as gymnasiums, pools and grounds.  

Digital twins bring landlords a way of offering virtual, immersive tours of the property to prospective renters, without anyone needing to set foot in the property. This results in less disruption for sitting tenants and means that people who come for an in-person visit are more likely to be serious prospects, saving time for both them and the landlord. In Matterport research, using digital twins within listings is proven to increase the number of enquiries relating to properties. 

Within their digital twins, landlords can embed notes (for instance to highlight key selling points such as white goods, air conditioning, marble surfaces etc.), offering a level of detail that simply wouldn’t be easily achievable with a video tour, for example. 

Predictive problem-solving

The benefits of digital twins don’t stop once the tenants have been given their keys and moved in. Once a new tenant has moved in and it’s time to create a snagging list, they can use tags on the digital twin to flag any blemishes or scuffs that were already there. This will give tenants and landlords an extra level of documentation, beyond a mere written condition report. 

The same benefits apply for maintenance as well. Landlords can share their digital twins with their contractors and collaborate remotely with them to facilitate bids - for example, for cleaning, repairs or refurbishments.

For landlords, when managing a large portfolio of properties, it can be hard to stay on top of the maintenance of each property. Landlords can use their virtual digital twin model of the property to stay up-to-date with repairs, with the help of IoT sensors in properties. These sensors can monitor almost any equipment in a house from alarm systems to refrigerators and dishwashers allowing landlords to identify when a problem is happening and in some cases to predict when it is about to happen. The insights they provide will help ensure that maintenance, refurbishment or replacement decisions can be made, just in time. As a result, tenants won’t have to suffer any ‘downtime’ while appliances are not working, but also landlords will face lower bills due to not having to pay for emergency call-outs and unscheduled maintenance. 

Information at your fingertips

Digital twins also offer landlords the chance to use data to inform big decisions, such as when to renovate and when to sell up. By using digital twins, landlords can take a holistic view of issues such as renovation, maintenance and energy efficiency, allowing them to make rapid, informed decisions on how to create long-term value from their property portfolio. 

For both landlords and tenants, digital twins offer a way to deal with common problems without friction. Landlords are able to use IoT enabled appliances and sensors to monitor properties remotely in a non-intrusive way, and can sort out problems without needing to visit. By eliminating many of the common pain points for both landlords and tenants, digital twins can help to build the all-important trust between landlord and tenant. Renting is here to stay in Britain - and digital twins offer a way to make the process more efficient, smoother and happier for both landlord and tenant.

  James Morris-Manuel, MD and VP of EMEA at Matterport

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