This year, you don’t have to say much more than that to get people’s attention. The shocking power of these “large language models” like ChatGPT were obvious to everyone who used them, performing complex tasks and responding to messages with eerily human-like abilities (sometimes).
What does AI mean to the real estate industry? Seemingly a lot. Unlike the “metaverse” and crypto fad that flamed out late last year, AI tools have immediate, tangible value in many aspects of proptech, as well as in the day-to-day operations of the business. Leading brokers polled by RISMedia overwhelmingly said they see this new technology as influential long term, with the potential to radically change the industry.
Also, at RISMedia’s CEO & Leadership Exchange earlier this month, a panel of tech, safety and leadership experts weighed in on the fast-evolving nature of AI in real estate, broadly agreeing that these new technologies will quickly begin transforming at least some aspects of how agents, brokers and other professionals operate.
Shaleen Khatod, executive, enterprise strategy & initiatives at CoreLogic, told the story of visiting his young son’s computer lab to illustrate just how large these changes will be.
“As I was poking around, there were no keyboards in the computer lab,” he described. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t get it. There are no keyboards in here. How are they actually inputting information?’ And the lady turns around and says, ‘Mr. Khatod, as your son grows up, he is never going to be using keyboards.’”
While major companies like eXp and CoreLogic, among others, have spoken broadly about what AI will do, it is still hard to pin down where it might have the biggest impact. An advanced consumer-facing chatbot or lead-generating data analysis are both potential uses, while compliance and transaction coordination are other efficiency improvements that AI can facilitate.
Shayne Fairley, another panelist and COO of Stellar MLS, said he believes AI is still in the “early innings,” but that it is also a mistake to just sit back and see what happens.
“AI is not going to be a spectator sport,” he argued. “You don’t want to sit on the sidelines and watch it happen. Lean in, participate, find the right talent in your organization or find the right partners.”
Another important emphasis for today—and going forward—was safety. Tracey “The Safety Lady” Hawkins, CEO of Safety and Security Source, emphasized that these tools will always pose a danger to real estate professionals who don’t take basic precautions.
“My message is to tell your people and to know that if you put your company information in (an AI tool), any proprietary information, any client or customer information, that’s public information now,” she said.
Another very different kind of threat that some have worried about is the potential for AI to replace people in the real estate industry. These experts were unanimous in saying that wasn’t going to happen, while adding that AI—just like the internet and smartphones—is something that everyone in the business is going to have to get comfortable with.
Rebecca Jensen, president and CEO of Midwest Real Estate Data, said her company has already found success in using tools like ChatGPT to facilitate work within the current paradigms and tools of the industry, helping agents do their jobs better and with less friction at every point.
“I think that it is so incredibly exciting the time that we’re at right now,” she continued, “where AI is going to help us have a better interface with technology so that we can solve the problems and the use cases out there.”
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