How Chatbots can provide an edge in real estate



Did you know that chatbot technology has been in existence since 1960’s? Sorry to say this, but this technology has been around longer than some of you have.

The tech was first developed by Joseph Weizenbaum, who developed a language imitating program called ELIZA whose role was to mimic schizophrenic patients. However, advances in technology have in the recent past led to the development of artificial intelligence and the deployment of relevant tools to development for continued development of this exceptional yet naïve field.

So what really is chatbot technology? Scott Carey from TechWorld defines a chatbot as a bot (software designed to automate a task) whose primary role is simulating human language (chatting) in response to written or spoken words. Carey adds that chatbots are basically user interfaces that are plugged into various data sources through API’s for service or information delivery, for example they can deliver information on future weather forecast. They have been integrated into various messaging platforms such as Facebook, Kik, Telegram, Slack and WeChat as well as other tech giants such as Microsoft. Additionally, they have been integrated into other fields such as sports and real estate. The use of chatbot technology in real estate shall be the focus of this article.

According to Junjie Shi of Chatbots magazine, renters spend around 20% of their time searching for the ideal apartments. This is true considering the hustle that one has to go through before getting hold of the keys to your new apartment. Renters have to conduct multiple searches, fill out forms, make numerous calls, emails and so on. The search is basically exhausting. Moreover, the renter may unluckily bump into a slow agent taking them months to find the client his/ her ideal apartment. This may be disappointing, especially if the client had planned on moving out real-quick. There is also the problem of insecure neighborhoods.

Actually, this may be problematic to clients who have just relocated into a city and are doing an apartment search. Neighborhood reputation is a huge deal-breaker for both the real estate agents and the clients. When dealing directly with landlords, they may hike or overprice the homes as well as the deposit charges. This discourages many prospective buyers. Real estate agents also face some problems regarding the seriousness of the clients, unrealistic home buyers who request for unmanageable discounts as well as unfavorable local market prices.

How chatbots can provide a solution:

Chatbot technology provides a wide array of solutions to these problems. The technology is currently being implemented by real estate agents who combine traditional home search with online home search platforms. For example, Apartment Ocean, an AI powered real-estate chatbot that is already being incorporated in the real-estate business. The adoption of chatbot tech is becoming even widespread as a result of its advantages. So, what benefits do clients and real estate agents get from using chatbot?

Firstly, there is the reduced workload on the part of the clients. Clients no longer have to fill numerous forms, make a thousand calls or send hundreds of follow-up emails. Chatbots will generously do that for you. All you have to do is type in or speak out a number of search keywords and they will do the searches for you. They mine for data related to the search query from various databases and can even display images of the potential house, apartments or renting areas. After finding the right match for the client, they can then link or schedule a meeting between the client and the real estate agents for a final viewing of the property and filling up of relevant forms. By doing so, they save both the realtors and the clients a great deal of time that could otherwise have been used on apartment hunt. Both the agents and clients can have extra time to focus on other jobs/ career development.

Additionally, chat bot technology allows for automation of apartment searching thus is faster and more efficient. Chatbots also get to deal with unqualified buyers instead of the agent spending invaluable time on them. Additionally, they restrain their searches to the specific requirements of the users, preventing issues regarding insecure neighborhoods. The bots also collect user information for profiling and future recommendations depending on previous searches.

Chatbot technology should be embraced by real estate firms for its enormous benefits. These can be summed up into one; saving the client and agents huge amounts of time required to conduct searches, suitability and many more.

About the author: David Thompson is the Director of Operations at Apartment Ocean