How to Profit In Rental Property and Real Estate Management

Jan. 3, 2019
Progressive locksmiths will see an “opportunity” with the Master Lock BluetoothⓇ line of utility locking products

The world around us is increasingly dependent on wireless technology whether it involves everyday communications, the control of lighting and heating, or the ability to regulate physical access. The convergence of Wi-Fi , BluetoothⓇ, BluetoothⓇ LE (Low Energy) and cellular with everyday devices and personal activities has brought society closer to a “wireless for everything” world. This includes door locks, utility locks, and key/card lock boxes in managed living spaces.

“Believe it or not, the future of wireless is even more mind-boggling now. We’re rapidly becoming a world in which you can’t disconnect, a world where the internet links practically everything around us, just like electricity did in the 20th century. In this future, the internet can beam down to your palm from light posts or satellites in space. Even in the absence of a Wi-Fi signal, any electronic device in your arsenal can communicate with others thanks to low-energy radio signals. This technology already exists, and it’s becoming more powerful more quickly than most people realize” (Adam Clark Estes,,

The “wireless for everything” trend is especially important where it comes to rental properties, whether management companies know it or not. The facts are:

  • 33 percent of all households are transient (renters) without a home of their own.
  • 61 percent of all renters live in multiple-family apartment buildings
  • 34 percent live in single-family homes.
  • 21 percent of all renters typically rent for 6 to 10 years.
  • 30 percent rent for 3 to 5 years.
  • 10 percent rent for 16 years or more.

The significance of these numbers is that you, as a locksmith, can offer electronic access solutions to the companies that manage the rental properties these tenants live in. Besides realizing a healthy, immediate profit, this will enable you to open up a new niche market that will potentially fuel a growing portion of your business income for many years to come.

In the December 2017 issue of Locksmith Ledger (, we discussed the many opportunities available to locksmiths in multi-tenant apartment buildings. In that article we discussed the installation of EAC (Electronic Access Control) systems in common areas, as well as cameras and foyer-to-room intercom systems. In this article, we’re going to talk about another opportunity that awaits you in both the rental property market and real estate venue.

Rental Property Management Opportunity

Within these multi-tenant facilities are utility rooms where tenants can store personal belongings. An extra storage closet or two are often included for maintenance company personnel so they can store their plumbing and electrical equipment, carpet scrubbers, hand tools, and other essentials. Storage barns or sheds also are maintained outside these and single-family rentals where maintenance equipment are stored, such as lawnmowers for summer use, salt for ice control in the winter, shovels for snow removal, etc.

Until recently, the only way to streamline access control across properties for management purposes was to buy a zillion mechanical padlocks, all keyed alike. However, when someone lost a common key, the company was faced with a massive rekey effort (expense) or they’d order a slew of new ones all keyed alike at a hardware store (still expensive). Now, technology has made it possible to enable cross-property access using an ordinary smartphone, a smartphone app (application, AKA: Software), indoor/outdoor ‘smart’ padlocks, and an online Master Lock ‘Vault Enterprise’ account for programming.

According to Master Lock, the online software service allows your clients to share permanent or temporary access using an app that each user downloads to his or her smartphone through Play Store. They can easily and effortlessly assign users and their devices by groups as well as individuals. Using group programming, all users can be given or denied access jointly according to a specific access criterion. An audit trail is maintained for management’s use in identifying irregularities as well as general use in an investigation of a crime.

The Master Lock enterprise system along with a complement of wireless-connected locking devices offers the convenience of remote programming so managers do not have to continually rekey and replace padlocks. Maintenance workers can use their smartphones to access the padlocks on company storage lockers, sheds, gates, and other assets. Master Lock also makes ‘smart’ lock boxes for personnel who routinely show potential tenants empty rental units.

“We conducted extensive research with end users and customers and found that many businesses have struggled with controlling who has access to the locks and users they have in their systems. They want a simplified, cost-effective way to manage access to a range of assets, from gates and equipment to doors and toolboxes,” says David Claar, vice president of engineering and new product development. “Master Lock Vault Enterprise fills that unmet need in the marketplace by enabling access management with lower infrastructure investment, intuitive management software and simplified set up.”

An Opportunity in the Real Estate Space

Another area where locksmiths can play a significant role -- with regards to providing Master Lock‘s ‘Vault Enterprise’ for access management -- is the real estate market. It’s here that real estate agents from a myriad of agencies simultaneously show the very same homes and commercial properties. They need a better way to manage the lock boxes that hold the key to a lockset or deadbolt lock.

This is accomplished through BluetoothⓇ-enabled lock boxes, each equipped with a keypad for use when programming may not be possible, as when a new agent needs immediate access and time does not allow anyone to program the agent into the system. Another scenario is where an agent’s phone isn’t working, as when the battery goes dead. Smartphone app updates may also fail to reach an agent when they’re out of range of a working cell tower.

Master Lock provides two types of lock boxes, one that can be mounted to an outside wall and the second fastens to a gate or an outside door knob. Where the latter is designed for temporary use, the former is used on a more permanent basis.

How the Vault Enterprise System Works

Through Master Lock’s online interface, administrators can grant and manage access for as many locks and as many users as needed. Using the online programming criteria, when an authorized user downloads the app, or when the app is updated, the access information is automatically downloaded to each respective user’s smartphone through a Cellular/Internet connection. Connection between smartphone and lock is made using BluetoothⓇ (see sidebar).

Using this method, maintenance personnel and real estate agents can access any Master Lock smart lock or lock box in the network via the mobile app on their smartphone. Without physical keys that can be lost or copied, businesses gain peace of mind knowing that their valuable assets are safe and secure. Through this online, intuitive Web interface, administrators also can grant access to individuals based on time, date, or group. Permanent or temporary access with an individual while in groups is easy to set up in programming. And, the great thing about the Master Lock Vault Enterprise system is that whether it’s one lock or a thousand, there is no monthly cost for the service.

Of course, you as a security professional can offer “managed services” to your clients for a monthly fee. This can include total maintenance of their keyed utility padlocks and lock boxes in addition to using Master Lock’s online-accessible Vault Enterprise system programming users into and out of the system.

To determine the monthly fee, you need to know how many locking devices there are, the number of users there will be, as well as how many projected programming changes the client usually experiences during a typical month--facts and figures that they are almost certain to have on hand.