By Curtis Williams
AI is changing everything — a statement that comes as little surprise to anyone these days, and least of all to the many real estate agents whose markets are being saturated by artificial intelligence (AI)-empowered buyers. With the advent of proptech services entering the real estate industry, buyers are becoming more thoroughly informed every day, long before they even speak to an agent. Here is just one example among many: Proportunity helps would-be property owners to get a fair and up-to-date valuation of residential real estate. Their model gathers property data, real estate market data, crime rates, and similar inputs to provide automated property evaluation.
To fear that redundancy lies on the horizon is only natural in light of such dramatic change. But, fortunately, those fears are misplaced. The world yet has much use for real estate agents, and indeed the advent of realty-focused AI presents more opportunities than threats for those who are willing to change with the times. Below are detailed three ways to do exactly that.
1. Keep Up
AI is making buyers smarter. That means that agents need to become smarter, too. Agents should be continually furthering their education and research to ensure that their expertise remains relevant and, ultimately, invaluable to buyers. This translates to consistently being the first authority on the local market, and keeping a careful pulse on its fluctuations and trends. An understanding of the information that will be available to buyers before enlisting an agent’s services is also vital here, as it offers insight into the areas in which agents can contribute the most value.
Agents must not, furthermore, fall behind the very same technological advancements that buyers are using to their advantage. Just as AI empowers the buyer, it can be a game-changing instrument for agents who are apt enough to utilize it. Agents should therefore follow suit and maintain a watchful eye over developing technologies, being quick to spot new AI-assisted tools that could help maintain their usefulness to buyers and keep them one step ahead of the competition.
2. Think of Buyers — and AI — as Teammates
It is useful to think of the agent and buyer as members of a team with a common goal. The agent provides leadership and expertise, while the buyer—the final authority on what he or she actually wants—provides direction. Either party relies on the other to succeed, and what benefits one party benefits the other; they are a team, that is. So when buyers are empowered by an AI that assists in elucidating what exactly they are looking for, it works in favor of the agent by progressing the team toward a more efficient resolution. For instance, HomeByte, an AI assistant designed for the home-buying journey, not only makes it easy to pinpoint the exact homes you’re interested in buying, but it also helps you decide if you’ll like your new neighborhood.
That makes AI a part of the team as well, and it ought to be embraced as such. Instead of waiting for the buyer to bring new tools to the table, agents should proactively seek out technologies that will make the process easier and faster for the buyer—and, by extension, for the agent as well.
3. Realize Your Value
What, then, if it becomes too easy for the buyer? Will it become so easy that they no longer require the services of a real estate agent? While that may one day be the case, it certainly isn’t yet. The agent still has a unique place within the team; they need merely to realize the value they offer, and then aim to fill that role as well as possible.
Good agents are still the most experienced, relevant source of information for any buyer. While most AIs are necessarily trained on historical data, the agent is constantly immersed in their present market and has been for years. Agents are therefore far better equipped to make real-time judgments and offer expertise tailored to the precise time and place. Even the best AI tools are only just that, and most buyers who are serious about making wise investments are willing to bypass the cheap alternative of doing it all themselves for the assurance of an expert who is more than likely to save them money in the long run.
Whenever the market takes a drastic turn it is easy to assume the worst. And, to be fair, change never does come without risk. But for those who are willing to grow with the business, risk is always accompanied by opportunity. It is plain to see that artificial intelligence is altering the face of real estate, and will continue to do so into the future. All that remains now to be decided is whether the agent will harness this change for the better, or indeed risk becoming obsolete.
Curtis Williams is a Land Investment Professional with National Land Realty licensed in Virginia and based in Washington, DC. The company’s proprietary 360-degree viewing technology, Land Tour 360®, as well as its GIS land mapping system, LandBase™, is offered for free to the public. More information at nationalland.com