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Artificial Intelligence: Real Estate’s Game Changer?

The Agent’s New Role, and How to Adapt

There are a lot of different opinions out there about artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will affect the real estate market and agent jobs. Many experts see it as a game changer. The technology is certainly disrupting an industry that has traditionally relied heavily on person-to-person interaction. We’ve boiled down some of the most important points to remember as an agent in the AI discussion.

 

Agents will have to adapt to (and own) AI technology.

There’s no going around it -- home buyers are doing more research on their own and are craving a more intuitive real estate transaction. The Consumer Real Estate Index recently found that 73% of buyers search for properties online and that 53% booked a home tour online. That was in 2016, and agents have already adapted to the changing atmosphere, implementing mixed-media real estate marketing strategies to attract clients (think search engine optimization, social media, and integrated offline and online marketing).

The next wave is personalized intelligence that will make the home buying and selling process even easier. Artificial intelligence is expected to seriously disrupt the industry, and not in ten years -- the technology is creeping into real estate marketing now. Holmes, an AI-driven sales chatbot, answers queries from leads in real-time, including what schools serve a listing and the state of the market as it pertains to their home. The bot directs the lead to an agent once they’re ready to buy, or the lead asks a question that is beyond Holmes’s capabilities. Virtual home tours are becoming increasingly common, allowing customers to walk through an entire home online, with evolving capabilities that will allow clients to even view their own furniture inside.

Agents that anticipate these advances and use them to their advantage will be the ones that stay on top as invaluable assets that differentiate themselves in the real estate market. Automation can save the smart agent time and allow them to focus on building relationships and providing personal service to clients.

 

But AI will not replace human agents.

Artificial intelligence is seeing monumental growth in various consumer sectors, but the real estate industry is unique, as it is associated with an inherently emotional experience -- buying or selling a home. It’s an industry where a human touch cannot be undervalued.

Increasing the efficiency of real estate transactions through AI will benefit both the agent and his or her clients. But it’s personal relationships (and emotionally intelligent traits like negotiation, local knowledge, and empathy) that will seal the deal for many. In fact, sellers’ top three requirements for a listing agent are trustworthiness, reputation and honesty. The Chief Technology Officer at Redfin, Bridget Frey, said that the company learned that algorithms without any human involvement didn’t resonate. Programs and automation are valuable, but they must work hand-in-hand with real agents, creating a sweet spot that will attract clients.

Frey said, “We’ve found that our algorithms work better when we leave a place for a human to be in the loop.”

Instead of replacing human jobs, AI and agents will work together in the future to close the deal. The relationship is already flourishing in other areas. Google has created a software that answers emails for you, giving users more time and allowing them to complete work days more efficiently. Imagine those capabilities when it comes to replying to a lead -- and having a bot do the leg work of sending that reply for you!

Savvy agents should embrace these new technologies as imminent and plan to work with them to increase business success. Artificial intelligence in real estate marketing is here, and taking full advantage of its capabilities will give top agents more time to focus on developing relationships with the most qualified listing leads, among other productivity benefits.



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