A wave of startups are focused on building robots that could reimagine the way real estate is rented out or sold. Nowadays, we’ve already seen innovations such as robot real estate agents, robotic architects and also “bots” that can create videos of homes, thereby freeing up agents to focus more on their clients.
According to the Wall Street Journal, robots are entering the real estate space in several ways. One recent example is a company called Zenplace, which has introduced so-called robot guides to help show some potential buyers around its listings.
A second example comes from a brokerage called REX in Woodland Hills, California, which is using robots inside seller’s homes to answer questions about those properties, and also to collect data from those who come to tour the home. “Basically, there are 75 questions you have about a home, we found that out," said REX CEO Jack Ryan in an interview. "And there is a hundred ways to ask those 75 questions and we have trained our robots to answer all those questions so no one has to follow you around and say this home is 2500 square feet,” Ryan added.
Another example is a company called VirtualAPT, which recently launched a robot that’s able to create 3D virtual property tour videos without human input.
Not surprisingly, all three companies have seen widespread and growing interest in their innovations. For example, VirtualAPT told the Journal that it’s expecting to create 10,000 of residential units within the next 12 months. Zenplace wants to introduce its robots to other markets beside California, and is eying New York, Texas, Washington and Florida as possible states for expansion. As for REX, it recently landed a tasty $15 million funding round that it plans to use to expand into cities such as Austin, Dallas, Denver and San Francisco later this year.
It seems there’s no stopping the robot real estate revolution, but agents who see them as a threat to their own jobs need not be concerned, said one expert.
“I believe that agents are critical to transactions and always will be,” said Robert Reffkin, chief executive of Compass, a real estate brokerage in New York.