AI-Powered Real Estate

stylized text: AI Powered

How artificial intelligence can help REALTORS® work smarter, better, and faster in any market conditions.

Online clothing subscription service Stitch Fix uses it to tailor apparel recommendations to its customers at scale. eBay uses it in an inventory and pricing solution that tells sellers to stock up on certain products. Tommy Hilfiger uses it to provide a more personalized and interactive shopping experience online, where buying clothing is rarely personalized or interactive.

What’s the secret ingredient that these companies are using to improve the customer experience? It’s artificial intelligence (AI), or the ability of computers to both copy and exhibit intelligent human behavior. Through the processing of large quantities of data, these computers learn to make autonomous decisions on their own—much like we do.

Take Tommy Hilfiger’s Facebook Messenger chatbot, for example. Using natural language processing (NLP) technology, it can not only reply to customer queries but it can also offer advice and appropriate products. “By asking a series of questions,” Tara Johnson writes in 10 Jaw-Dropping Examples of Artificial Intelligence in Retail, “the bot gathers information about the user’s personal style preferences and makes an outfit suggestion based on the data given.”

Of course, the power of AI expands far beyond retail. Companies in nearly all industries are experimenting with it—real estate included. In fact, the chatbots that Tommy Hilfiger is using online can easily be adapted to help brokers work with the nearly-100% of homebuyers who start their new home searches online. Catching those online buyers at the point where they’re ready to buy has been a frustrating game for most REALTORS®, but AI could soon put that goal within reach.


Saving Money, Time and Man-Hours

Tom Hormel, a broker with RE/MAX Inland Empire and current Washington REALTORS® First Vice President, says he’s seeing more AI-driven chatbots being added to real estate websites—a move that he says will save brokers money, time, and man-hours. “By having a chatbot or ‘assistant’ on their websites, brokers may no longer have to call and qualify prospects,” says Hormel. Instead, a chatbot will walk potential clients through a series of prompts (e.g., are you thinking about selling your home? Do you mind sharing the address? What’s your timeline for selling?). “As soon as they punch in their address, a picture of the house and the tax information shows up,” Hormel says, “and all without the broker having to touch anything.”

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That hands-off approach to some of the homebuying and selling fundamentals should be music to brokers’ ears. Because AI never sleeps, brokers can use AI-based bots to provide 24/7 coverage to customers who visit their website or social networking profiles. They can chat with customers on the broker’s behalf and help them make money even after hours.

“The good news is that real estate brokers will still be needed to draft contracts, answer telephones, and show people around properties,” James Paine writes in 3 Ways AI is Changing Real Estate. “They can use AI to automate much of the work and to free up their time to spend it on more profitable tasks.”


AI in Action

The application of AI in real estate goes beyond chatbots. Digital property management system UpTop uses AI to eliminate the wait times, miscommunication and uncertainty surrounding repair and maintenance requests for rental properties. When a request is filed, AI detects the tenant’s phone number and transcribes the issue into a work order which is then sent directly to the appropriate party who can solve that specific problem, according to UpTop. If a work order reporting a plumbing issue is created, for example, it can be transferred automatically to a plumber (instead of the property owner or manager coordinating the repair).

Artificial intelligence is also being used in the real estate investment and management spaces, where task automation helps save investors and property managers time and headaches. According to VentureBeat, investors rely on AI to take the risk and guesswork out of property investments. AI can assess a property and perform a thorough, detailed risk analysis and even estimate how much money an investment has the potential to earn.

“Additionally, intelligent bots can predict loan defaults, thus increasing the efficiency of the risk assessment process and helping borrowers avoid less profitable properties,” VentureBeat reports. “Property managers can also deploy AI to monitor and predict when a home’s critical maintenance systems will need repairs or total replacement.”


Nothing to Fear

As AI continues to proliferate in the business world, and as more real estate companies adopt AI-driven technology, the number of brokers using it is sure to grow exponentially. Hormel tells brokers that it’s nothing to be afraid of, and that if real estate—as an industry—reaches out and harnesses it now, then it won’t get run over by AI down the road.

As a good starting point, he says brokers should be thinking about the application of AI in the smart, connected home, where the technology can be used to automatically change thermostats and turn lights on and off. “Set some time aside to research the technology and the related opportunities, and then start experimenting with it,” says Hormel. “If we make it ours and learn how to use it, we can profit from it,” says Hormel.



Chatbot logo

WHAT’S A CHATBOT?

Pops up to provide assistance to your website users.
Works 24/7 and answers inquiries immediately.
Can help you qualify your buyer and seller.

Bridget McCrea Bridget McCrea is a freelance writer who has been covering real estate, technology, and education since 1996. She can be reached at bridgetmccrea@gmail.com.



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