The technological revolution that’s gathered steam over the last decade has transformed much about our daily lives. It’s changed the way we communicate with one another, as well as the way we provide customer service. There’s nothing to indicate that the pace of change will slow in the coming years.
With the advent of the cloud, barely any part of the global economy has been untouched by the transformations we’ve seen. Obviously, the rise of online retail has been particularly far-reaching in its impacts, particularly with regard to customer service and choice.
This is far from the only sector that’s been radically altered by the plethora of new technologies available. Whether it’s using call recording to analyse employee performance, or inventory management solution in a store warehouse, technology is everywhere.
On the face of it, you might think that real estate is one of those sectors which remains much as it always has been, fundamentally at least. After all, people have always needed a roof over their head, and that’s one thing that remains unchanged. But how people find the right home has changed a great deal in recent years.
There’s been much hype, for instance, about the ramifications of big data on understanding different types of market segmentation. This is being borne out in real estate, as realtors gain a clearer understanding of what their consumers (people of different demographics and earnings brackets) are looking for from their big purchase.
But one aspect of this technological revolution that’s been overlooked in some quarters is that of artificial intelligence (AI). Again, the arrival and expansion of AI into new areas has been much hyped, but its implications for real estate in particular haven’t always had a great deal of attention.
In this piece, we’ll discuss what the ongoing rise of AI means for the real estate sector, and what this might mean both for realtors and for ordinary consumers. Then we’ll go on to list eight of the most important ways in which AI is changing the face of real estate.
By the end of it, you should have a much clearer understanding of the changes AI is ringing in this sector – which, needless to say, plays an important role in all of our lives. Let’s get started.
The AI Revolution in Real Estate
AI, it’s fair to say, is everywhere. There’s scepticism in some quarters that the term has become little more than a buzzword. However, more and more businesses are realizing that it can have a genuinely significant impact. We can safely say, then, that AI will only grow further in its significance to business in the years ahead.
For those of you who’ve only just got to grips with technologies like VoIP, or who’ve had trouble working out how to choose the best predictive dialing system, this can no doubt seem more than a little dizzying.
It’s important to understand the ramifications of the changes we’re seeing; those businesses that adapt quickest, and make the most effective use of new technologies, could gain a crucial competitive advantage.
We’ve already alluded to the changes attributed to ‘big data’ and in real estate, these are already proving to be substantial. The important thing to remember here is that AI provides realtors with a whole host of data points and analysis which they can use to make better informed decisions. This removes a lot of the uncertainty that would otherwise be involved.
This data might cover a wide range of different bases. For example:
- The characteristics and KPIs of individual properties
- The strength (or otherwise) of the local real estate market
- The balance of supply and demand in the wider area
- The price that individual properties might achieve on the market.
The potential effects this might have on the customer experience of buying property are clear, but we’ll elaborate on them in the next section.
How AI is Changing the Customer Experience in Real Estate
We’ve discussed the changes AI may have for real estate businesses. But it’s just as important – if not more so – to consider what it might also do to transform the customer experience.
The internet has already changed the customer experience of real estate greatly. In tandem with the shift to remote working, webinars and virtual tours have become increasingly popular among would-be buyers.
Here are eight ways in which AI is changing the customer experience of real estate and house buying.
- More Objective Appraisals and Values
It’s fair to say that, over the years, the real estate sector hasn’t always had a reputation for clarity and fair dealing among consumers. This isn’t always entirely justified, of course, and most realtors do their best to be as objective and straightforward as they can possibly be.
Nevertheless, there is unavoidably a degree of subjectivity involved when it comes to property valuation, and much of it is in the eye of the beholder.
The introduction of AI, and the expansion of data-based valuations, helps to clear away much of this uncertainty. AI can help realtors make clear and objective appraisals and property valuations, so everyone – buyers and sellers alike – knows precisely where they stand.
- Virtual Tours
With online shopping so dominant and working from home increasingly widespread, we’re steadily getting used to having the essentials available at the touch of a button. This has ramifications for real estate that shouldn’t be overlooked.
AI allows would-be buyers to take virtual tours of properties, rather than having to travel for an in-person walkthrough. It’s also worth noting here that property webinars are also proving to be very popular among people looking to buy homes and start new lives in new communities.
If you’re thinking of organizing your own property webinar, make sure it’s available to everyone, regardless of platform. Look online and find suitable video conferencing software for Mac, as well as checking if it’s compatible with mobile devices.
- Chatbots and Virtual Assistants
You’ve probably come across chatbots before. These are the little virtual agents that sometimes pop up when you visit a website. You’ll find them on online retail sites, as well as many other kinds of businesses. They can respond to questions and provide visitors with the answers they’re looking for, thus providing an automated customer service. This frees up staff to do other tasks and thereby saves money as well as manpower.
Chatbots allow house buyers to get quick answers to questions they might have when they visit real estate websites. This simplifies the process of finding relevant information and saves them unnecessary hassle. Of course, some queries are still likely to prove too complex for chatbots, and these can be referred to human operatives.
- Better Property Recommendations
Already, consumers are used to being served up personalized product recommendations on ecommerce platforms. These recommendations are based both on previous purchases and on products browsed by individual users, so they can then be presented with more items they might be interested in.
AI-based tools allow this personalization to go one step further. They can provide tailored recommendations based on real-time analysis, rather than relying on past data.
The same principle increasingly applies to real estate as well. AI and machine learning open up the possibility of providing people looking for houses with personalized property recommendations, saving them valuable time in the process.
Developments like natural language processing (NLP) might even be able to bring this personalized data into phone calls. AI can listen in to the conversation between agent and customer, picking up on key phrases and highlighting relevant houses available.
- Simplifying Moving In
Once you’ve bought a home, you might think that the hard bit is over. As anyone who’s ever moved house before will tell you, however, this is far from the case. Traditionally, moving house has been one of the most stressful things you can do. Fortunately, this is starting to change with the help of AI technology.
AI is helping to smooth the process of moving in by supplying buyers with detailed, precise information about the homes they’re moving into and the area they’ll be living in. Whether it’s instructions on how to use the oven or directions to the nearest grocery store, AI is taking at least some of the strain out of a difficult and challenging process.
- Improved Property Management
Property maintenance can be a hassle even at the best of times – whether for property managers or, more urgently, for tenants. Backlogs of maintenance issues can build up quite easily, causing stress and frustration for those tenants who can’t get their problems resolved.
AI is, however, helping here by automating time-consuming tasks and freeing engineers up to do more important and pressing work. It’s also fantastic for workforce optimization, creating the most efficient schedules for maintenance teams to reduce downtime and improve productivity.
In addition, the calendars of engineers can be integrated with tenants’ own systems so that the latter can log complaints or problems and the latter can be rapidly assigned to address them. Integrations such as these will help to deliver a wide range of property solutions more efficiently and precisely.
- Enhanced Security
Another important way in which AI is transforming the real estate customer experience is by ensuring enhanced security. This is always a major concern for people buying a new property.
For example, facial recognition technology is being introduced in some developments to ensure that only residents and authorized visitors can gain access. (This also saves money by dispensing with the need for a doorman.)
Some developments are using mobile apps, saving residents the trouble of having to use a card, keys or keycode to enter their development or apartment complex. This bolsters security while ensuring maximum convenience for residents.
- Better All-Round Customer Service
As we’ve already alluded to, AI is having a major effect on customer service standards across the board in business – and real estate is no exception. Chatbots, algorithms and other technological innovations are taking on a lot of tasks which would otherwise be performed manually, thereby saving time and money that can be put to better uses.
This means that staff – including service staff, mechanics, engineers and others – can devote more of their time to directly meeting the needs of house-buyers and tenants, who are able to find what they need, and get any problems addressed, much quicker. As a result, AI is helping to deliver significant improvements to overall customer service standards.
For the less technologically savvy among you, this is probably quite a lot to take in. You might be more concerned with simply finding the right newsletter software, or asking yourself questions like “what is skills based routing?” But you don’t need to be an expert on technology to appreciate that AI is here, it’s here to stay, and it’s already making extensive changes to our everyday lives in a variety of different areas.
Real estate firms which fail to appreciate the transformation taking place risk falling behind their more adaptable rivals, so there’s no time to waste in making the transition and embracing AI. It’s also important to bear in mind that as AI is based on machine learning, its capacities are only likely to expand and sharpen over time – in other words, the more AI does, the more it learns, and the more it improves.
In this way, through the precise use of data, the communities of the future will be built: stronger, better connected and more secure. We’re only at the outset of the AI revolution, and it has much further to go. Only the future will tell just how far real estate technology will take us.