Homestead-U is a property management company that provides off-campus student housing to more than 7,000 students across the country. Its portfolio includes 3,700 units – 1-5 bedroom cottages, duplexes, manor homes and lodges - in Arizona, Ohio and Texas.
- Headquartered at Columbus, Ohio
- Operates student residential communities at the University of Arizona, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Ohio State, and Ohio University
- Because the company’s tenants are students, the vast majority of its properties need to be inspected, cleaned, upgraded, and re-rented at the same time.
Homestead-U Drastically Reduces Turnover Time With HappyCo
Homestead-U is one of the industry’s fastest growing property management companies specializing in off-campus housing; it seeks to give students a far different experience than dorm living or even regular off-campus living, transforming apartment living into a fun, social experience in a clean, secure and conveniently located environment. Its seven communities feature beautifully landscaped gardens, clean common areas, inviting interiors, and in some cases, a pool.
The company was faced with a considerable challenge at the end of every academic year, however, when the vast majority of its tenants moved out at the same time. It was required to conduct physical inspections of every newly vacated apartment to determine condition of the living space, figure out what needed to be upgraded or repaired, and make sure that its apartments and houses were move-in ready for the next wave of students.
For years, Homestead-U conducted this process using a paper-based system, meaning inspectors were required to fill out detailed inspection sheets for each unit, writing by hand the condition of walls, flooring, window treatments, etc. It also meant that these inspectors – who were inspecting multiple dwellings each day – were still faced with going back to their offices each day and reconciling their paper reports with photographs they took to document any issues.
When that task was done, most often a day later, they’d fax their reports to the main office, and then that team would begin the process of lining up any maintenance work that was required. The mountains of paperwork and manual work ate up precious time and also delayed the company’s ability to make prompt security deposit refunds.
Officials at Homestead-U knew they had to secure a quicker, more efficient and less labor-intensive way to successfully manage close to 3,700 simultaneous move-outs and move-ins each academic year.
“At Homestead-U, we pride ourselves in using state-of-the-art property management software for our budgeting processes, but we still hadn’t cracked the code when it came to some of the ancillary processes that we used at our properties,” said Laura Formica, Vice President of Operations. “We’ve known for a while that we needed a mobile tool to streamline and modernize our inspection process. HappyCo’s innovative tool was the answer to our prayers. As soon as we saw its features – and especially how it could be customized to meet our specific needs – we were very interested. Our decision to move forward with the platform is something we celebrate every day, because we see how fast we’re now making apartments ready for our new and returning group of students.”
With HappyCo’s automated solution in place, inspectors can now collect data – photographs too – right inside the app, and instantly distribute it to the appropriate people at Homestead-U, drastically speeding up work flow.
“With the scope of our inventory and the demands the academic year puts on us, saving a significant amount of time inspecting each unit translates into enormous cost savings – and it helps us deliver the excellent customer service that we promise our residents,” Formica said. “We’re also thrilled with how quick and easy it was to get the tool customized and deployed to our teams.”