AI Is Already in Real Estate

You’re probably using artificial-intelligence technology today in the form of popular software and social media. But your future success could depend on your ability to further leverage this powerful technology.

First, some good news: You, as a real estate agent, aren’t in danger of being replaced by artificial intelligence.

You are, however, at risk of one day being replaced by an agent who effectively uses AI. That agent will provide the same services you do, only faster and more efficiently.

So warns Texas REALTORS® instructor Marion Napoleon, the broker/owner of Unlimited Realty Solutions in Grand Prairie. She teaches the course AI and Tech Trends Impacting Real Estate.

Her advice is to stop thinking about AI as a single tool or set of tools. It’s closer to having another you helping you work. “In layman’s terms, AI is simply using technology to do tasks faster than it would normally take you to do,” she explains.

The AI You Know

You have probably been using AI without even realizing it, Napoleon says. AI is behind many familiar technologies.

AI powers virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa. Real estate databases such as RPR use AI. Virtual and augmented reality platforms, from staging to floor plans? You guessed it: AI. Even social media platforms utilize it. What do you think is color filtering your photos and adding special effects to your videos?

Chatbots are perhaps one of the most well-known examples of AI. These programs can act as round-the-clock first points of contact for your business: answering questions and scheduling appointments from your website.

ChatGPT is an AI platform that can interact, respond, and provide information as if it was a human having a conversation. Agents are discovering all of the ways they can put this and other content-generating technology to use in real estate. “These technologies can write listing descriptions, marketing materials, communications, policies, and procedures,” Napoleon says.

Benefits and Risks

The major advantages of AI include speed and convenience. AI draws from and analyzes huge amounts of data quickly. Ask Alexa a question and it scours the internet for an answer. A listing description may take you an hour to write; AI drafts it in seconds.

Furthermore, AI can learn and improve. Napoleon can give content-generating AI examples of her writing and ask it to imitate her writing style. She can also ask it to give a document a more professional tone or make it more casual. AI used to sound unnatural and robotic; now it can be virtually indistinguishable from the author.

That said, AI brings with it new responsibilities for agents and brokers, Napoleon says.

Even though you didn’t write it, you are still responsible for the content produced in your—and your broker’s—name. Ensure any material created by AI does not violate policies, rules, and laws, including fair-housing laws, The Real Estate License Act, TREC rules, and the NAR Code of Ethics.

You must also be mindful of how AI created the things you want. What sources did AI use and where did they come from? Are those sources trustworthy? Do those materials belong to someone else? “The biggest risk is that the information you’re pulling is a scrape of the internet,” Napoleon says. “No one is checking to see where that information is coming from. Plagiarism is a huge concern.”

AI users should take the additional step of reviewing and editing AI-generated content. Put it in your own words. Use programs that cite sources, such as Google’s AI model, Bard. Grammarly and other tools can check for plagiarism as well as flag and quote sources. Make sure your sources are credible and impartial. “Especially if you are trying to publish this information, you have to make sure it’s OK,” she says.

AI technology is developing rapidly and has incredible potential. Napoleon believes there should be guidelines governing its use. In the meantime, make sure your use of AI not only complies with laws and rules but also with your brokerage’s policies and procedures—as well as common sense. Treat it like you would any other internet-connected tool and think about privacy and data security.

Don’t Be Afraid

“I think a lot of people are afraid of the technology because they don’t understand it,” Napoleon says. “They see it as scary, as taking over the world. Or that it’ll replace people.”

But avoid it at your own peril. Napoleon gives the example of Blockbuster versus Netflix. Consumers used to rent movies from Blockbuster stores. Blockbuster could not compete with Netflix’s more convenient services: first mailed DVDs, then streaming video. The same thing will happen to agents who do not fully leverage AI technology. “Businesses that adopt AI will be able to offer their agents and clients a faster, greater experience,” she says.

Consumers will change their expectations and start to expect certain levels of service. They’ll also begin to adopt this technology themselves, and you’ll need to keep up. “Look at virtual reality tools. While they’re absolutely cool, a lot of people didn’t adopt them at first,” she says. “Now that it’s affordable, it really helps buyers who can’t get to the house to tour it.”

Napoleon has used AI to generate and animate avatars for online marketing videos. “I built an avatar and brought it to life. It speaks for me,” she says. “I ran the information through AI. In seconds, AI takes the script and makes a nice video. I can create as many as I want.”

She says early adopters like her were able to grow with the technology. Napoleon has written about how she has incorporated AI into every aspect of her life. For example, she’s asked AI to plan out her daily schedule and draft healthy meal plans. She asks her virtual assistant for real estate information as she goes through her day.

By delegating certain tasks to AI, Napoleon can focus on the creative and executive tasks only she can do. AI also frees up her schedule so she can do more of the activities she enjoys. “Now it doesn’t take me months to write a curriculum or years to write a book. AI has the ability to tap into our world and make it absolutely amazing.”

Source: Texas REALTOR® Magazine