Artificial Intelligence, or AI, has been touted the next big deal in technology. Whether you subscribe to the thought that machines will one day kill the human race, or believe it will lead to a more sophisticated and intelligent life for all, it’s difficult to live in today’s world and not see some evidence of AI.
Vian Chinner, CEO of AI developer firm Xineoh, explains that “AI has proven in other industries that it can accurately identify the core of what a user is interested in, including being able to predict a user’s personality, to a higher accuracy than their own mothers.” Platforms like Amazon implement the technology to, to a large degree accurately, learn and predict what users want. This has the immediate advantage of saving the user time.
Online property search
We know that online search portals have become the method of choice for many homebuyers. The convenience of being able to look at multiple properties from the comfort of one’s couch is tough to deny. But it’s by no means a perfect system. Traditionally, the user would insert certain search parameters: price, location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garages, a pool. The platform would then churn out all corresponding results.
The problem with this, Chinner explains, is repetition: “A property search will usually last a couple of months, during which time the searcher, using a portal, will have to click through the same list of perhaps hundreds of properties and perform the same curation over and over again.” The application of AI in listing platforms holds vast possibility. It could, for instance, take into account how recent – and therefore relevant – a listing is; and, over time, how likely the user is to be interested in that specific property.
AI also enables the would-be buyer to find out about details like ROI, the neighbourhood, and schools. Armed with this information, it’s much easier to make an informed decision.
For estate agents, the technology also offers an opportunity. While many may consider the onslaught of technology in all industries a threat, the opposite may in fact be true. AI could be used as a customer service tool. When a potential buyer has questions about a property or area, a chat bot can provide useful answers. In the case of VR-show houses, AI can also be used as a virtual agent.
Along with home automation systems, AI holds the potential of drastically reducing time spent on management. This would enable the property manager (or owner) to keep tabs of details like plumbing and appliances. It would even allow us to preempt possible problems, such as maintenance timelines. Along with this, we’d be able to better screen and select tenants, based on past behaviours. AI chat bots would also be useful in providing answers and advice to tenants – for example offering advice on the nearest 24-hour plumber.
With everyone hopping aboard the technology-bandwagon, it’s important to consider cyber security. As buildings and property services become automated, it’s easier to hack. It’s no longer enough to have an alarm system fitted on the building – the real threat may soon lie online.
Using AI to plan for the future
As it advances, AI will be able to predict what we need and when. We already see this in smart homes, with fridges telling us it’s time to buy milk. So what’s stopping us from learning more about the future trends in terms of population growth, demand for schooling, performing real estate sectors, and any other imaginable data
This information could be used to predict where the next upcoming area will be, where to invest in infrastructure, and how rental units are likely to perform.
Over time, we will be able to plan for a realistic future, rather than scrambling to catch up.
In time, AI will transform how we think about and interact with properties. As with any new technology’s application, it’s tough to predict exactly how it will impact the property market. Many predict that it will overhaul the industry, while others are of the opinion that it will enhance current systems and practices. One thing is certain: we can’t ignore it for much longer.
Examples of AI in property
Zenplace: A full-service US-based property management provider, they make use of AI and machine learning to proactively manage properties. Tenants are also able to make payment online, extend their lease, and report problems. A chatbot service is used to facilitate these requests.
Truss: Focusing on commercial real estate, Truss uses AI chat bots to facilitate the process of finding and leasing office space.
ApartmentOcean: An AI powered real estate chat bot. It gathers the information received from the customer in the chat into an easy-to-use lead for real estate agents to follow up with.