Amazon’s Echo smart home product — which uses a voice assistant known as “Alexa” — can stream music, call you an Uber, set a timer and give you the news.
Now, if you enable a “skill” from a certain real estate company, Alexa can also tell you how much your house (or someone else’s) is worth.
“We’re a small company, but we still have in-house development, and this just came up as something that would be a fun project,” explained Chris Rediger, the co-founder and president of Redefy Real Estate, a Denver-based brokerage that built the voice functionality.
He demonstrated the app at Hacker Connect, part of Inman Connect New York, this year.
After realizing that nobody else in real estate had jumped on the Echo train yet, Rediger said that he and his staff dug into what was involved, and they were blessed with some insights as a result.
“If this product never takes off, no big deal — but on Google and on Amazon, you reserve ‘invitation phrases’ like you reserve domain names,” Rediger explains.
Those “invitation phrases” are beginning points to conversations. And now, for example, Redefy owns the invitation phrase “real estate agent” on Google for its Home device. (Redefy has a Google Home version of the app launching soon, too.)
Additionally, Rediger said, “the logic in the scale is everywhere.”
For example, Redefy is working on a product for consumers — a portal that can help them understand where they are in the buying and selling process — and they were able to build an Alexa integration for that, too.
“It will also be an information tool for our customers, so they can interface in more familiar ways and they don’t have to pull up an email and look at a contract,” he said.
How it was built
Both Google and Amazon have done the heavy chatbot lifting for you — so the framework is there, said Rediger. “We need to program in what questions will be asked and how to answer them,” he said.
Still, “it’s a different way of programming and thinking about the problems, so you have to get used to it from a traditional development standpoint,” he added.
The app works nationwide — “theoretically,” Rediger noted; “if you have an 8,000-acre farm, we might not be able to value that.” The valuations are based on widely available public data as well as Redefy’s proprietary algorithm.
He anticipates that Google Home will launch the middle of next month; the brokerage had gathered 242 leads — “name/address/phone number,” said Rediger — between January 16 and 26 — and counted 1,2000 conversations (requests for values). “Redefy has spent $0 on marketing,” Rediger noted.
He added that a Las Vegas Redefy agent who was on a listing appointment asked the seller for permission to talk to Alexa. “The agent then went on to request the value of the home that they were selling,” Rediger said. “The value was almost exactly where the homeowner wanted to list. The seller was very impressed, and our agent closed the deal.”
He added that potential buyers might use the app to see whether a home is priced correctly during showings.
“If you’re smaller and understand and like the space, you can do some really cool things in real estate tech right now,” said Rediger.