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FirstKey Homes Scales with SiteCapture

Read time: 3 minutes

Written by SiteCapture

FirstKey Homes is one of the nation’s largest single-family owner and operator with a portfolio of over 18,000 rental homes across 24 geographic markets in the United States. FirstKey Homes manages all aspects of the property lifecycle including acquisition, renovation, marketing and rental management. 

Here’s how the FotoNotes Field Reporting platform helped FirstKey Homes rapidly scale their organization.

The Challenge

In the spring of 2017, FirstKey Homes was planning a major expansion increasing the number of rental homes in their portfolio from 6,000 to 18,000 in less than a year. One of the most significant challenges they faced was effectively scaling up their field operations to acquire and manage that many homes.

FirstKey Homes needed to be able to: 

• Perform complete and accurate diligence inspections to drive good purchase decisions 

• Remotely manage the quality of the renovations and repairs of newly acquired properties

• Rapidly complete turns, capture marketing photos and prepare those homes for market

At the time, FirstKey Homes was using a variety of disparate approaches for reporting from the field including paper forms, handwritten checklists, excel spreadsheets, and digital cameras. They were relaying that data through email, text, and phone calls, then storing all of that information in a variety of systems. 

To find the best solution to better manage their field reporting at scale, FirstKey Homes went through a thorough process of researching and testing mobile applications from a number of different providers, but found them clunky and difficult to use and quickly realized they would not work well for their employees.

The Solution

To address these challenges, FirstKey Homes selected FotoNotes as its mobile field reporting platform based on its easy to use mobile apps for iOS and Android, its flexibility to meet their wide variety of needs, and its robust API for integrating into their existing systems. 

Within the first week, FirstKey Homes was able to quickly convert its pre-acquisition inspection into mobile ready SiteCapture, formerly known as FotoNotes, forms. When the forms were ready, they had regional managers creating and assigning inspections in less than an hour and the field staff were off and running completing mobile inspections that same day. 

As more key FirstKey Homes personnel got their hands on FotoNotes, now SiteCapture, mobile apps, they quickly expanded use to include mobile capture of high quality marketing photos, rent ready inspections, move-in/move-out checklists, weekly qa/qc checks on renovation and repair jobs, and annual property walks. They also saw a huge benefit in having FotoNotes, now SiteCapture, for damage inspections when their properties were hit with hurricanes in 2017. 

FirstKey Homes’ IT team was especially pleased with the SiteCapture API. The ease of getting the photos and data collected from the SiteCapture mobile app into their other backend systems was a game changer. 

FirstKey Homes launched SiteCapture, formerly FotoNotes, to all of their field staff and management team with minimal training and they have not looked back since.

The Results

Acquisitions – Hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings 

FirstKey Homes utilizes SiteCapture to perform accurate pre-acquisition inspections in about 20 minutes and, in real-time, get the data and photos they need to make informed buying decisions. For the FirstKey Homes acquisitions team, this data-driven process reveals previously unknown issues on properties, prevents purchase of undesirable properties and provides negotiating leverage with sellers. 

Turns – On the market in hours instead of days 

By using SiteCapture for turns, FirstKey Homes can complete move-in/out inspections and capture high quality photos for their marketing website in a matter of hours. This allows them to get properties on to the rental market 2-3 days faster than before, resulting in an estimated savings of $75 per property per day. 

Damage Reporting – 1,100 inspections in less than 24 hours 

After the devastation and destruction caused by Hurricane Irma, FirstKey Homes used SiteCapture to issue 1,100 inspections in less than 24 hours after the storm. This allowed them to quickly make sure properties and residents were safe and secure and the date, time and GPS stamped photo evidence was invaluable in guaranteeing their insurance claims were settled in FirstKeys’ favor. 

Growth – 12,000 properties in just over a year 

The choice to implement SiteCapture and put it into action organization-wide was one of the driving forces that enabled FirstKey Homes to streamline their operations and increase the size of their portfolio from 6000 to 18,000 in just over a year. 

Quote

“We have done over 10,000 inspections with FotoNotes [SiteCapture] and our experience has been great. FotoNotes [SiteCapture] inspections have been essential to our business between documenting hurricane damage and evaluating thousands of properties for purchase across multiple states.”

Jim Barker, VP of Field Services, FirstKey Homes

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