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AI and Real Estate: Moving Past the Buzz to Practical Uses

is human, not AI, and is the IT Director for Maryland REALTORS®.

REALTORS® are no strangers to embracing new technologies. We have launched a constellation of apps, subscribed to dozens of services, and managed countless social networks to better serve our customers and streamline the transaction process.

The newest buzzword in popular media is AI, Artificial Intelligence. Thousands of articles have been written about how AI is going to disrupt the marketplace. Tech companies are jumping on the bandwagon, releasing new products or add-ons to existing ones that include AI. But beyond the noise, what are the short-term practical uses of the new technology in real estate.

The most visible advancements in artificial intelligence revolve around 2 branches, large language models and natural language processing. Essentially, we have taught computers how to infer intention and context from our words and images and generate additional content based on the probability of what comes next.

By being able to infer intent and translate it into application-specific action, AI is going to revolutionize user interfaces and flatten the learning curve for many applications. Tasks that previously required years of experience, specialized training, and dedicated support teams are on the verge of becoming easy tools for the typical REALTOR® and their clientele.

Content generation is another powerful capability of AI. Although AI doesn’t truly comprehend what it is generating, it is often able to generate plausible content based on statistical patterns. A surprising amount of what we as humans write is derivative of previous work, which is something AI excels at generating.

AI tools are still at the early stages of development, but companies are rushing products to market at a breakneck speed. In the coming months we will be inundated with products trying to fulfill the marketing hype. Here’s what to look for.

Improved Property Search

Natural language searches are already making it into mainstream apps, such as Zillow, which allow the search of MLS listings using the standard search fields, but it’s about to be taken to the next level.

As REALTORS® we have access to a huge amount of data beyond MLS listings. We have detailed information about inventory, communities, and our customers. But often we are forced to manually assemble data from multiple sources or lean upon years of hard-won knowledge of the market or individual properties. Consider the following request.

“I need a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house for under $600,000. I want a kitchen with dark cabinets and stainless appliances, and a large window above the sink. The stove should be gas. I need it to be less than 20 minutes from mom, 30 minutes from work, and walkable to the local elementary school. The schools in the area should be good.”

Based on our current tools and data this request is possible, but it would be a time-consuming journey figuring out what neighborhoods met the distance, school requirements, looking up tax records, and reviewing listing photos.

AI will make this a lot easier. Because it can understand both the request and the data being searched regardless of formatting or source, it can tie together disparate data sources into a single search using natural language queries instead of a wall of dropdowns and checkboxes. AI can even interpret listing photos and pull content found in the images. We will soon be able to search MLS, SDAT, RPR, Geolocation data, image data, etc. all from a single natural language search. AI excels at translation so all those queries can be made in the client’s native language.

Timeframe: Most of the pieces to do this already exist, vendors just need to license data and scale up their infrastructure. Expect many of these features to materialize in the next few months.

Impact: REALTORS® will need to create more detailed listings, encompassing richer narratives and imagery. Clients will likely become more specific in their searches, focusing on increasingly detailed features. This precision will unlock new avenues in investment property scouting, making it easier to identify opportunities that meet exacting criteria.

Automated Listing Generation

AI is already being used to generate property listings with products like ListAssist and Epique. By analyzing a property’s characteristics from public data, AI can quickly draft detailed listings from existing property information. Moving forward these tools will be able to add additional detail from external data sources such as tax data, nearby points of interest, and photographs.

As AI is being fed detailed information, and listings follow a relatively straightforward template, listing generation is a great fit for automation. The program isn’t being asked to be terribly creative and it can even be asked to match your writing style for a more personalized feel.

Timeframe: Tools are available now with increasingly complex feature sets. Look for integration into existing mainline products this year.

Vendors to watch: ListAssist, Epique, and many others.

Impact: REALTORS® will be able to create more detailed listings more quickly.

Personalized High-End Marketing

AI’s analysis of publicly available data, like social media, can provide deep insights into individual customer preferences, paving the way for micromarketing strategies and ultimately leading to an era of Massively Automated Personalization. This means that high quality marketing materials, once designed for a broad audience, can now be tailored to the individual, enhancing engagement and relevance. With AI we can craft automated, personalized media campaigns featuring multitouch emails, social media posts, flyers, brochures, newsletters, phone calls, and even video with little to no human intervention.

Timeframe: Tools are available now but not yet mature. Look for existing products to start incorporating some of these features into their existing products soon.

Vendors to watch: Epique, Gan.AI, Canva

Impact: REALTORS® will need to up their marketing game to keep pace with the slick advertising of competitors.

AI Assisted Visualization

Projecting forward, AI will increasingly be used to visualize what a property could become, transforming listings into interactive, virtual dollhouses for clients to decorate. Potential buyers can change room colors, add furniture, and personalize spaces in a virtual environment, offering a dynamic and immersive experience.

Enhanced visualization tools, powered by AI, will provide customers with a clearer, more tangible sense of a property’s potential, aiding significantly in their decision-making process. These tools will allow REALTORS® to help clients overcome surface detail fixations such as paint color or personal property distractions such as decorating choices, which may have caused clients to dismiss properties in the past.

You can already see some early examples like Redfin’s “Redesign” feature that allows changing of paint colors and floor covering on any listing. Other services like REimagineHome and Virtual Staging AI take this to the next level, with the ability to declutter a room or remove and replace furniture.

It is important to use caution when using “enhanced” imagery. For example, removing a piece of furniture that was in front of a window may force the AI to guess what was behind it. Did the window continue to the floor, or was the dresser hiding a hole in the wall? For listings, these changes may constitute false advertising so proceed with caution.

Timeframe: Tools are available now but not yet mature.

Vendors to watch: Roomvo, REimagineHome, Virtual Staging AI

Impact: Presents new opportunities for REALTORS® to bond with their clients as they assist them in selecting the “right” home.

Improved Personal Digital Assistants

When tools like Siri and Google Assistant were launched, many thought that we were entering an era where we could give our phone a task, and it would autonomously fulfill our request. The vision was never fully realized because every function required hundreds of keywords to cover the different ways someone could ask for something. Think of all the different ways that we could ask our phone to call grandma: the programmers would have to handwrite code for each variation. Multiply this for every function of every app and you get the idea why this was never going to work the way Steve Jobs envisioned.

13 years later AI is poised to fulfill many of these promises. If AI can translate our language into intent, it becomes a lot easier to integrate the apps we use every day. Programmers only need to worry about the features, not all the ways people might request them. Expect major vendors like Apple and Google to offer much better assistants in the next year.

The real change is going to happen when we can start customizing these assistants to work with our business apps and our workflows. Once this happens, we can start making requests like:

“Hey Google, put together 5 comps for the 115 Poplar Way house and text them to me, Tina and Roger Smith for discussion. Also include the tax records for the property.”


“Hey, Siri put together an offer from the Smith’s on the 115 Poplar Way house for $650,000 using the standard template but add an inspection contingency and a $10,000 escalation clause. Email me a Word document for review. Also, text Fay Jones at KW and let her know we will have an offer to her shortly.”

There are a countless number of tasks like this that we all could do every day. A lot of the plumbing to achieve this already exists using services like Zapier and Power Automate. AI simply provides a usable way to interact with them that doesn’t require a PhD in computer science.

Timeframe: Unknown.

Vendors to watch: Google, Apple, Zapier, Productive.Ai

Impact: Provides a productivity boost to REALTORS® and could greatly speed up transactions.

What does the future hold?

AI technology, while still in an early phase, is evolving rapidly with an influx of innovative ideas and solutions. Currently, AI is better at interpreting and responding to user inputs than in initiating conversations. Products that excel in user interactions, by converting human intentions into actionable technological responses, are poised to make significant early impacts. These products will simplify the complex interfaces of traditional software, leading to substantial productivity improvements for REALTORS® and their clients, with minimal drawbacks.

The path for AI in content creation is more challenging. Tasks like generating property listings or customizing marketing materials are manageable and can be fine-tuned into usable products quickly. In contrast, AI continues to struggle with more open-ended writing and creative tasks, often requiring careful human oversight to avoid errors.

Despite these challenges, demand for AI tools will continue to grow due to their considerable potential to enhance productivity. Over the next 12 to 18 months, as the gap between marketing promises and actual functionality narrows, we can expect a clearer vision of the future to come. In the meantime, take the time to play with the early offerings and have fun!

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