The AI Disruption Is Finally Here

Vikas Agrawal
Guest Contributor, ValueWalk


Over the years, the real estate industry has managed to stay relatively hidden from many of the tech disruptions that have transformed other industries. In a decade that has so far witnessed the disruptive effects of the cloud, the Internet of Things, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence (AI), players in this industry still depend solely on their smartphones and basic internet-based tools to conduct business.

In recent times, however, there have been signs that more realtors and real estate companies are responding, albeit subtly, to their customers’ need for change, especially in the area of AI, which has the ability to improve customer service and efficiency and reduce operational costs and resource wastage within the industry.

And though real estate lags behind other industries when it comes to AI adoption, the tech has nevertheless found its way into the business.

Property Management

Property managers’ responsibilities include finding tenants and keeping units occupied, maintaining infrastructure and machinery, sourcing vendors, and working as a liaison between tenants and landlords. These tasks can be especially daunting for managers of big buildings and commercial properties, so it’s fortunate that property management is an area in which machine learning through artificial intelligence shows its biggest benefits, including the development of: schedules for critical equipment systems, such as lighting and HVAC; forecasting algorithms that predict operational needs; and equipment systems that can detect anomalies.

Data Analytics

Like most other industries, the real estate industry is being transformed by big data. With tons of customer and industry data at their disposal, real estate companies can use AI algorithms to make sense of the data and improve one or more facets of their business. Areas that can be improved include targeted marketing, financial and accounting, and appraisals, which are becoming increasingly difficult to conduct because of the high number of evolving factors (e.g., demographics, interest rates, the economy, and government policies/subsidies) that constantly affect the price of properties.

Intelligent Search Platforms

Search engines have always been an important tool for connecting real estate agents with prospective buyers. To put that into perspective, 2016 saw 51 percent of homebuyers begin house-hunting online, even though most of them eventually used an agent to complete the purchase.

To improve the online experience for users, major search engines such as Google and Bing are using AI to get much more from a basic property search. Traditionally brokers, investors, property buyers, and sellers were often restricted to a handful of search criteria, such as the price and location of a property. With AI, however, searches have become more sophisticated, with multiple layers of information available for specific properties. Users are now able to get details about ROI, the relative quality of a given neighborhood, and other minutiae before buying a property.

Some real estate companies are already using AI to help lead change in this area, though their efforts are geared more toward augmenting the work of a real estate agent than replacing it.

AI-Powered Bots

Artificially intelligent bots — or autonomous programs — are leading the AI revolution in myriad ways in many industries. In real estate, AI bots could become the first mainstream AI technology to be adopted by agencies and property owners because they’re relatively easy to integrate compared to other phases of AI. AI bots have already been used to answer queries related to terms of leasing, square footage, and other topics during virtual tours.

Bottom Line

We still have a long way to go before AI becomes the disruptive wave that transforms real estate. For the moment, let’s allow ourselves the hope that AI will improve the industry and empower real estate agents instead of replacing them.


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