Kymber Lovett-Menkiti, President/Regional Director, MG Residential, Keller Williams Capital Properties, Keller Williams Realty International, Washington, D.C.; Broker Relations Liaison, National Association of REALTORS®: On a relatively slow news day on the last day of November 2022, a San Francisco research lab called OpenAI launched a free writing service called ChatGPT. By December 4, 2022, ChatGPT had over a million users. Among them were a host of savvy real estate brokers who immediately saw its potential. Today, we are talking with a few early adopters about the good, the concern and the not-yet-known about this amazing technology. Nancy?
Nancy Robinson, Vice President of Sales, Christie’s International Sereno Real Estate, Los Gatos, California: We were an early user of ChatGPT because we quickly saw its value—beginning with the ability to create great property descriptions with very little effort by the agent. It was new, it was fun, and from a marketing perspective, it was a game changer—not always perfect, but a great start for generating a creative marketing plan.
Mike Puma, Chief Marketing Officer, CENTURY 21 Beggins Real Estate, Apollo Beach, Florida: Like any other technology, ChatGPT is only as good as its input. But we, too, saw the potential from the outset, so we quickly began to train our agents to make it easier to use and more accurate—not just for listing descriptions, but to write things like social media content or video scripts. Not every agent is a creative writer. AI can do it for them and give them more time to do what they do best.
Cindy Ariosa, Senior Vice President, Long & Foster Real Estate, Towson, Maryland: It’s no surprise the program went viral. When it comes to marketing, ChatGPT can give agents an edge on the competition—and it does a lot more than generate content that sounds like it was written by a human. It also does predictive analysis. It can monitor your contact database, for example, and alert the agent when it predicts the time is right to engage with a past client or prospect. There may be some concerns to address, but at least one large MLS has launched it, and the last time I checked, ChatGPT had over 100 million users worldwide.
Mark Nottingham, Broker/Owner, @properties, Indianapolis, Indiana: I don’t find that surprising. ChatGPT and its imaging generator, Dall-E-2, or Google’s Imagen, can be a boon for the working agent. Most recently, our agents have been using them to create professional headshots, saving them time and a lot of money. But it may be too soon to know what we don’t know about its impact or its possible downsides.
KLM: So, as much of a game changer as it seems to be, I sense a bit of concern.
CA: Well, we need to remember that despite its ability, AI is not human. Its content creation, for all its speed and relative accuracy, needs to be proofed by humans. As Mike says, it’s only as good as its inputs, so it can conceivably create content, for example, that gets material facts wrong or violates fair housing guidelines. Agents who use it cannot afford to get lazy. They need to check everything ChatGPT creates to be sure it is accurate and compliant.
MP: On the other hand, humans make mistakes, too—and fighting technology is pretty much a losing battle. Progressive brokers and agents will continue to use artificial intelligence. As leaders, our job is to see that they use it right, that they are trained to give it the required oversight and to benefit from all it can do.
MN: I have some cultural concerns. For AI to do what it does, it collects data—a lot of data—and we don’t know yet how that data will be used. Will the REALTOR®, as a service provider, lose value?
MP: I don’t see how. Structured properly, AI adds value. You can use ChatGPT to write a contract, including all the disclosures. How much time will that save the agent, and how much does a beautifully illustrated AI-generated marketing plan impress a potential seller?
KLM: AI is an integrator. Used with care, it’s like having a virtual personal assistant at your disposal. I think it’s safe to say it won’t replace the agent, but agents who use it will do better than those who don’t.
The Power Broker Roundtable is brought to you by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and Kymber Lovett-Menkiti, NAR’s Broker Relations Liaison. Watch for this column each month, where we address broker issues, concerns and milestones.