The rise of Artificial Intelligence and robotics technologies has caused many an expert to proclaim that the coming era of automation will replace millions of human workers across an array of industries.
But while AI and even robots could well have a major impact on the real estate industry, we don’t believe that real estate agents need to be worried about losing their jobs just yet.
For one thing, we need to point out the obvious. AI and robots just aren't capable of performing some of the more practical tasks that agents do, such as taking clients to properties, opening the door and showing them around. There are security considerations too – even if robots could do this, they probably couldn’t prevent people from stealing or causing damage to the property in question. In contrast, the presence of a human agent in most cases will discourages any undesirable behavior.
One potential use case for AI is in answering questions about specific listings, but even here technology can only go so far. AIs in the form of chatbots for example, can provide information about the square footage, income, leasing terms and so on for a specific property, but the technology as it exists now cannot answer more nuanced questions.
For example, prospective buyers might want to ask things about other constructions and developments nearby, which could all impact the value of the property. Moreover, agents better know the client’s own situation, what their budget is and how much they’re willing to negotiate.
So AI won’t be taking over agents’ jobs any time soon, though it can certainly help them to do their jobs more efficiently, and that’s where its future lies.
AI can be used generate detailed analytics about a properties performance, handle many of the time-consuming customer queries agents have to deal with, and identify likely sales prospects. Meanwhile, AI-powered robots of the future could be used to help with cleaning and maintenance of buildings, a task they’re much better suited to than showing human clients around properties.
These technologies will go hand in hand with other innovations, such as drones which can be used to capture aerial footage for marketing purposes. Other technologies that could be useful in real estate include 3D printers, which are already able to build entire homes themselves, and virtual reality equipment that can be used to create “virtual tours” of properties.
All of these technologies can help real estate professionals to better do their jobs, but as things stand they’re unlikely to displace real, knowledgeable humans for some time to come.