10 Things to Know from OPTECH19

Cynthia Marshall

Dallas Mavericks CEO Cynthia Marshall gets the audience on their feet during the closing keynote session at OPTECH 2019.

Last week’s NMHC OPTECH in Dallas once again shattered attendance records, bringing together more than 2,300 apartment executives and technology partners for three days of networking, learning and deal making.


NMHC OPTECH continues to be the industry’s go-to place for new product launches and important industry research. The Expo was a bustling marketplace with more than 132 exhibitors showcasing the industry’s latest and greatest technologies. NMHC was thrilled to host the inaugural Opening Pitches event, where 61 companies delivered two-minute fast pitches on new products and services.


NMHC was also pleased to name KTGY Architecture + Planning’s Park House as the winner of the 2019 NMHC Innovation Challenge and also to release the results of the 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Associates Apartment Resident Preferences Survey.


Our programming remains best in class, with thought-provoking keynote speakers Beth Comstock, former vice chair of GE, and Cynthia Marshall, CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, as well as numerous industry leaders discussing the latest innovations and challenges. Read on for our list of the 10 biggest takeaways.


NMHC thanks all sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and attendees for their contributions to another successful OPTECH. We will see everyone next November in Las Vegas for the 2020 NMHC OPTECH.

Top Trends

Number 1

Chat bots and self-guided tours are hot.

With the dual goals of unburdening leasing staff and delivering a better on-demand shopping experience for prospects, many apartment operators are experimenting with chat bots and self-guided tours. However, the question then becomes when should humans reinsert themselves into the leasing process?

Number 2

We asked, residents answered.

The newly released 2020 NMHC/Kingsley Associates Apartment Resident Preferences Report, the industry’s definitive resource for what residents like, love or won’t rent without, is out—nationally and for 104 individual markets. Nearly 373,000 residents participated, weighing in on the search process, lease decision factors, community amenities, unit features and the latest tech trends, including things like voice-activated technology, virtual tours, facial recognition, coliving and more.

Number 3

Curb to community room connectivity is critical.

Residents certainly want it, but increasingly our buildings’ systems are also demanding seamless connectivity. From controlled access to sensor technology, futureproofing begins with getting the broadband and cellular infrastructure right.

Number 3

Regulation goes digital.

Tech and innovation happen fast, but the laws are catching up. Regulators are now taking a closer look at digital marketing and advertising practices for possible Fair Housing infringements, as well as significantly upping the ante with respect to data privacy. With new, more stringent laws set to go into effect on January 1, tech and legal executives met with the big four property management system providers to discuss compliance strategies during a special post-OPTECH data privacy summit.

Number 5

Smart is in.

While apartment operators haven’t quite found the perfect solution, most are testing the smart home waters and figuring it out as they go. With the benefits of consumer-facing smart tech going to the resident, they’re also looking at smart building tech for operational efficiencies.

Number 6

Please hold while we connect you.

Two new and interesting telecom advancements remain elusive for most multifamily operators. While the promise of 5G and CBRS are great—better, faster and more reliable mobile connectivity—the reality of when we’ll start to reap the benefits remains something of a mystery.

Number 7

The talent war continues.

We didn’t hear from a single operator that didn’t complain of a shortage of human capital in one area of the business or another. Talent poaching is commonplace, as are rising salary expectations. So, when companies can’t pay more, they’re rethinking everything from their basic infrastructure to the way they recruit, train and promote. Company culture also becomes a bargaining chip.

Number 8

Wellness is mainstream.

With the growth of various certifications, the apartment industry has undergone a major shift in its approach to health and wellness. We’ve moved beyond a risk-reduction model focused on ensuring our buildings are safe environments, free from the harmful effects of things like asbestos, mold and second-hand smoke, to an active promotion of health and wellness as core lifestyle and community components.

Number 9

After innovation comes consolidation.

This has been a very active period of tech innovation, and experts now expect to see more consolidation as winners and losers begin to emerge. However, it won’t all be up to the owners and operators; industry-focused venture capital firms are taking an active role in influencing markets.

Number 10

The future is here.

The apartment of tomorrow is closer to today than you might think. Machines are already reshaping the construction process. Artificial intelligence and automation are simplifying operations. Fintech innovation is upending traditional models of investment and ownership. It’s all already happening in the here and now.