Would you let a robot negotiate the sale of your home? That was the question that got an overwhelming “no way” at the INMAN Connect 2018 session on automation and robots in San Francisco recently.
But would you allow a robot to prepare all the background material, check the data, manage the paperwork, and coordinate the grunt work of the work flow so that the agent could focus on the buyers and sellers, supporting the relationship and making sure that the negotiation went smoothly. The answer to that was “absolutely”.
In real estate, the robots most likely to be helping us – especially in the short to medium term – are unlikely to be C3PO or Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons able to compute hyperspace, clean the house and make coffee. Rather they will be background algorithms that are doing one or two tasks to extraordinary levels of efficiency, and handing off to the next step of the process where another algorithm takes over. To the agent as an end user, it will probably feel like a single virtual assistant. But in reality, it’s more likely to be an army of AI minions - hopefully without the chaos in the background.
Here are four startups that CoreLogic met with at INMAN Connect that are working in the automation and robotic space for real estate.
1. Robots that create video and reports
Shooting video is time consuming and can be embarrassing – especially if you’ve got a face for radio! Looking up data and writing about the market requires top notch research skills, an eye for detail and a week or two to execute. Australian startup HomePrezzo takes all this pain away by allowing agents to create animated videos about their local markets and properties using the latest market statistics. Once you’ve set up your photo, contact details and branding, you can quickly create videos and reports in under two minutes, and share them across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or your website and email marketing. Incorporate into your content calendar to extend your digital profile.
2. Robots that manage your communication
Responding to inquiries is one of the most important thing a real estate agent can do but the myriad of devices where communication now occurs can make agents slaves to their devices – or do the job poorly. Enter Gabbi.ai, which combines all your communications from email, text messages and social media in one place in a chronological timeline - and automates your ability to respond. Gabbi also has chatbot features which allow ‘her’ to book appointments and viewings for you, and respond to basic inquiries. She also plays the role of an assistant, and will create reminders and send reports.
3. Robots that clean up your data and help you use it better
There are some tasks in real estate that are mind numbingly boring, excruciatingly detail driven and inconsistent in how often and frequently they need to be done. Rita from AIRE is a virtual employee who can be programed to do the tasks listed above that humans do pretty poorly. Some examples of tasks that Rita performs includes entering inquiry data into CRMs, responding to inquiries, cleaning up data, comparing inquiries to names already in your CRM and sending agents lists of leads (derived from the work she has done on inquiries) and providing advice on what to talk to them about. And unlike humans, she doesn’t get distracted and can cope with high workflows without complaint – or even a bathroom break.
4. Robots that manage your rental inspections
Rental inspections are short and sharp and require extraordinary amounts of coordination both for property managers and potential tenants. But the robot from Zenplace allows a potential tenant to inspect at any time by being located at the property and activating whenever a unique code is typed into a specially fitted doorlock. The robot greets the renter and shows them around. At the other end is an agent who identifies features, and answers questions and can fill in paperwork immediately for tenants who want to proceed. Zenplace claims the efficiency of not having agents on the road to open properties allows them to do 10 times the number of inspections and attract a better quality of tenant.
Kylie Davis is the Head of Content at CoreLogic. She was a speaker at INMAN Connect 2018 in San Francisco on Robots and Automation.