By Meghan Hall
The multifamily real estate market has taken off in the past several years as major metropolitan cities and developers seek to maximize what little land is available by building apartment and condominium complexes in lieu of single-family homes. Increasing competition between landlords and real estate professionals to find and lease space means that efficiency is absolutely necessary in brokering deals. The advent of marketing and software platforms like New York-based Nestio is changing the way multifamily professionals manage their inventory and evaluate the market.
We recently spoke with Nestio Chief Executive Officer Caren Maio about the real estate platform, which was founded in 2011 and has since grown to provide data on numerous markets around the United States.
Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your role at Nestio? What can you tell me about the platform (where and when it was founded, current objectives of the company, etc.)?
I made my way into the real estate technology world nearly seven years ago — which feels like a lifetime when you think about how the landscape has evolved! I started this business to scratch my own itch. I was a frustrated apartment hunter, and I set out to streamline the process of renting an apartment. We pivoted the business nearly halfway through the life of the company to become what it is today (B2B marketing and leasing software), and the purpose has always been the same — to modernize the way apartments are rented and drastically improve the process for everyone involved. We believe the best way to accomplish this is to deliver best-in-class technology to multifamily professionals, enabling them to modernize the way apartments are marketed and ultimately, leased. Today, Nestio powers hundreds of thousands of listings across multiple markets and has reduced the time to rent by over 20 percent. And, in just 2018 alone, we have enabled over $600 million worth of transactions.
Where does Nestio operate geographically and who are some of the company’s primary clients?
Nestio serves multifamily owner-operators and fee managers in major markets across the country including New York, Chicago, Boston, Houston, Dallas and more.
What are are some of the services that Nestio looks to provide its clients with, and how do these services meet broader demands in the multifamily market?
Our marketing and leasing software enables the distribution of rental listings across the channels that matter and work most effectively — services that include listing syndication, website powering and development, reporting and more. We take a very consultative approach when working with our clients and strive to fit into their technology stack in a way that strengthens their current workflow, saving them time and allowing them to reallocate resources to client facing, revenue generating activities.
How have you seen clients’ demands changing in terms of what they are looking for in the growing rental market?
Our clients are looking to improve the way they interact with their clients, the end consumer. It’s all about providing a more seamless experience to the consumer, which has become increasingly more important when you think about the way the market has grown and new inventory that has been added. There is more competition for multifamily owners and managers than ever before. It’s critical to stay ahead of the pack and provide positive and seamless experiences, and a big part of that strategy involves leveraging technology in smart and interesting ways.
Can you elaborate on the importance of centralizing data when it comes to tracking listings and property information? In an increasingly tech-oriented market, what are some of the challenges involved in successfully streamlining this data?
Having a strong foundation in place to centralize data is critical — and one of the best antidotes against data inaccuracy and inconsistency issues. Having multiple versions of the same data sets out in the ether will create a “garbage in, garbage out” mentality, which can be very time consuming and costly to correct. Being able to run a business off complete, centralized and accurate data sets should be considered table stakes at this point — and this is true of every industry. We’ve invested heavily at Nestio to ensure we deliver on this for our customers and that the mechanisms we use to ingest, centralize and distribute information are best in class. On average, our clients have been able to recuperate nearly 10 percent of their workweek by allowing our technology to do the heavy lifting.
On a national scale, what trends have you seen coming to the forefront in the multifamily markets? What are some of the broader patterns impacting the trajectory of the multifamily industry and how has this been changing over the last 2 to 3 years?
There is much more focus on the experience, more than ever before. This goes beyond the initial impression of a property, you must provide a best-in-class experience day in and day out throughout the entire process — to both your prospects and your residents. Services and products that enable great experiences to happen are highly valued in this industry, and taking a more hospitality-driven approach is one that has served many companies well and will be important in staying competitive in the future.
There are many platforms that provide similar services to Nestio (streamlining the property management process, simplifying the process for renters, etc.). What are some of the challenges involved in ensuring that the company stays ahead of the curve and of its competitors?
Focus is one of, if not the most critical, component of the job. We know where we excel, and we are maniacally focused on delivering where we believe we have a competitive advantage and are uniquely equipped to provide a solution that’s exponentially better than what currently exists in the market. I also think having an open mind to partnerships has served us well and hopefully will continue to do so. The types of companies you mentioned (property management and renter solutions) are often complementary to what we do. If we can provide a best-in-class solution and also work well with other services, everyone wins — especially the shared customer which is the ultimate goal.
How will the company ensure that it continues to implement the most cutting-edge technology into its services moving forward? What are some of the older methodologies in the multifamily market that Nestio is looking to transform and capitalize upon?
Evaluating and implementing interesting technology is part of the job! Nestio excels at taking that technology and making it “speak” our customers’ language. I’m really proud of that. We work closely with our customers, constantly soliciting their feedback and insight, to ensure we’re always making good on that promise. It enables our customers to focus on real estate, and we’re able to deliver as their technology partner.
In an industry that was traditionally inter-personal and dependent on forging and maintaining face-to-face relationships, is there anything in particular that concerns you about the rapid rate at which technology is changing the industry?
I believe technology can play an important role in facilitating interpersonal relationships. Nestio is designed to streamline inefficient processes and automate time-consuming tasks that were previously preventing meaningful interactions and the right conversations from happening. The personal component of this industry is incredibly important, and technology has the ability to enhance that considerably by eliminating barriers, surfacing important information, and giving folks valuable time back in their day.