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Broker vs. bot: Is man or machine better at matching buyer tastes?

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Inman has received a challenge from a robot stating that it can find homes for a buyer as well as, if not better than, a human.

Sound farfetched? We thought we’d put this statement to the test — to see just how far the bots can take us, at least today.

Here’s how the test will work.

We have an unassociated third-party volunteer to act as our homebuyer. Each day, our “buyer” will choose a home that he truly likes — and each day, a volunteer broker and the robot will have 30 minutes to suggest three homes they believe the homebuyer will like just as much.

The broker’s job is simply to suggest three similar properties — just as a broker might be requested to do for someone new to town: “Hey, I found MLS#1234567 — I really like this home. I am in town just for a couple of meetings and have to fly out tomorrow. Can you arrange for me to see this home and a few others before I leave?”

It’s the broker’s and machine’s job to not simply match physical or quantitative criteria of the subject home; it’s their challenge to suggest homes our buyer will be emotionally excited about based on the home the buyer has selected.

Matching homes predicated on qualities a buyer finds emotionally stimulating is a tremendous challenge for a machine, and even a broker — just ask them. Buyers are hard to please, especially when there’s extremely limited housing inventory. And that’s the situation right now in Denver.

The goal of our human and machine is to impress the judge by suggesting homes with the subjective qualities that are as emotionally stimulating as the home the judge told us he likes — while staying within price and location tolerances you feel are appropriate.

This challenge will take place this week, April 27 through 29.

Here’s how it will work.

  • Volunteer brokers must have access to the REcolorado MLS system.
  • The homes chosen by the buyer and returned by the brokers and robot must be from within Denver.
  • One broker each day will participate in the challenge.
  • Our buyer will choose one home that he likes from the available inventory. We will send the home to the participating broker and the bot.
  • After the broker and bot have chosen their comparable homes, we will send those homes back to our judge.
  • The judge will rank the homes in the order he prefers and note which home he thinks came from a human and which from a machine.

We’ll announce the results at the close of the test, and you can also follow along every day on our Inman Coast to Coast Facebook Page, where we’ll be sharing the results.

Participating brokerages and brokers include:

Live Urban Real Estate – Stacie Staub

Denver Realty Experts – Greg Eckler

Kentwood Cherry Creek – Libby Levinson