The brokerage model is being disrupted by technology that’s making it easier than ever for Realtors to run their own show more flexibly and efficiently. But could bots — backed by artificial intelligence (AI), automation and big data — come to the rescue and help the big property brands deliver new value to agents?
To explore this idea, let’s look at a typical day in the life of a Realtor in 2020 who works at a brokerage (we’ll call it Bot Brokerage) that uses bots to deliver a wide range of automation.
The bot scenario
The strategy behind the AI support is for the brokerage to empower its Realtors to deliver highly personalized services that put human relationships at the heart of the data, which in turn creates unprecedented loyalty from its agents and the buyers and sellers they service.
Meet Maria. She’s been a Realtor at Bot Brokerage for the past 10 years. About three years ago, she was considering leaving Bot Brokerage — she felt the fees were too high and locked her into technology that was out of date and clunky to use.
It was a lot of money to pay for a desk and a lead database that was usually out of date.
But then Bot Brokerage introduced an end-to-end bot-driven infrastructure for agents. And while it took a little getting used to, Maria now loves it because it takes care of all the back-end tasks that used to keep her busy and allows her to spend her day focused on what she’s passionate about — helping people on their homebuying and selling journeys.
Here’s what Maria’s day looks like:
When Maria exercises each morning, her Bot Broker VA (an automated assistant that she fondly calls BotVA) reads out her schedule for the day and outlines a list of tasks that she has preset for her bot team.
At her request, Bot Broker VA also reads out profile information of the people she’s going to meet that day so she’s fully informed and pumped for the day.
Maria has her first client meeting with Jane, a buyer. By the end of the breakfast, Bot Broker VA has sent Jane a list of suitable properties and inspection times (based on their conversation) and some background video information on the areas that Jane said she was interested in.
The bot has tagged the client as originating from the relationship with Maria and assigned Jane to Maria in the brokerage’s database. This means that even if another agent finds Jane a home, Maria will receive a payment to recognize the fact that she introduced her to the agency.
The bot has also set a calendar entry for Maria to make a follow up call a few days later. By that time, the automation at the back end will have identified if Jane has clicked on any of the properties in the information that was sent, and it will have recognized how long she spent on each property and if she shared any of the properties with friends or family, or returned to one or two of them.
This information will both inform the conversation that Maria will have with Jane when she follows up and allow the bot to refine future property selections that are sent to her.
Maria also encourages Jane to become “identity-authorized.” This will allow Jane to visit any property at the time of her choosing (rather than having her wait for opens). It can also be — if Jane gives permission — linked to her credit approval rating, which will give Jane the advantage of pre-approval for loans and a much quicker turnaround on her finances when she decides to make an offer on a home.
Again, regardless of who sells Jane a home, Maria’s introduction of Jane to the identity authorization and credit approval process means Maria will receive a trailing commission payment when Jane transacts.
In these days of automated contact, Maria is a big proponent of the personal touch. She uses the first hour or so of every morning to make phone calls to prospects and clients and people she’s sold to recently to see how they’re settling in. She finds people are usually happy to talk first thing or on their commute.
After each call, she dictates outcomes to her Bot Broker VA who annotates the client data and schedules or carries out follow-up actions, such as sending property reports, investment analysis and lookbooks or contracts. She loves the Bot Brokerage Concierge Service that allows her to order thoughtful gifts for her buyers and sellers and send them to their home or office via drone in just an hour or so.
On mornings when there is no Bot Brokerage sales meeting, Maria likes to spend her time creating videos about her local community, helpful information for buyers or sellers or a roundup on properties that she loves.
Of course, the Bot Broker VA can now automatically create both report-styled or video content about her local market, but Maria is a bit old school. She likes the personal touch, will sometimes interview people in her community and has fun being on camera.
When the videos are shot, she alerts her Bot Broker VA to the new content, and the bot automatically schedules it to social media and targets it to an appropriate audience based on the latest insights from her social media pages. BotVA will also tag anyone she interviewed.
Bot Broker VA also inserts content into her email newsletters to keep her click-through rates high. In addition, Maria uses this time to direct the virtual reality (VR) video of properties she’s selling because she cares about the details.
It’s also the time in her day when she reviews the sales collateral the bots have created for her sales listings — those bots are truly amazing in how they assemble the ads, online listings and reports, but Maria has an experienced eye and she likes to think that it’s her attention to the personal details that makes the difference.
It’s also a great way for her to familiarize herself with her listings, and it boosts the quality of her data within the bot system, which in turn improves her micropayment commissions.
Maria has an open home. Of course, they’re not as necessary now with so many people being accredited to inspect the property at a time that suits them securely, and with the availability of virtual reality (VR.
But Maria likes the ceremony of an Open being held at least a few times during the sales period – it signals to the neighbourhood that a property is on the market which can often lead to surprise offers. You never know where a passive buyer might be. And it’s a great way to meet the neighbours, who in turn can become valuable sales leads to Maria.
Everyone who does enter the property is automatically identified through their cell phone and added to the Bot Brokerage database – that’s because Maria is so good at making people feel at ease and learning about them. Even if they’re unlikely to buy or sell for many years, Maria’s initial discovery is at the root of their relationship with Bot Brokerage and allows their experience with Bot Brokerage and Maria to be truly personalised.
Maria has a meeting with a potential vendor, Rebecca. Rebecca has a lovely home but wants to upgrade and there’s a few small repairs that if done, would help the home get a better price.
During her visit, Maria shoots both video and photos of each room, paying particular attention to areas that she thinks might need some work to bring up to sales presentation stage.
Her bot captures these and attaches them to the address record, and with Rebecca’s permission, sends them to Bot Brokerage’s Presentation Concierge system, which requests quotes from the appropriate trades and services.
By the end of the visit, Maria is able to provide Rebecca with a detailed quote on the work that would need to be done to the property, the time it would take and a schedule for the sale, including an accurate estimate of the price Rebecca can expect with Maria’s clever marketing approach.
Rebecca’s other alternative is that Bot Broker VA buy the property outright and provide her with the funds in just 48 hours. Such an approach means a sale price that is below what was quoted, but some clients like the speed and certainty of the approach, especially if they have personal circumstances that mean they have to move by a deadline.
Maria ends her day with another round of phone calls to clients, finalizing negotiations and giving contracts the once-over just to ensure she’s across the details. Maria’s Bot Broker VA gives her an update on all the reports and contacts that have been sent and actioned across the day and allows her to set any new tasks.
Sometimes she does this by reading the report, sometimes if she’s busy or in the car, she’ll ask Bot Broker VA to read it out and she’ll instruct the bot verbally.
She loves the AI-assisted support that she’s offered by Bot Brokerage — it has really changed her life by removing so much of the busy, repetitive work that used to stress her out. It allows her to focus on the human connections that are the most important part of her job at a price point and uptake level that she would never have been able to afford or get her brain around on her own.
Bot Brokerage supports its sales teams and its AI strategy with regular training and sales rallies. These provide Maria and the Bot Brokerage team with the opportunity to learn new skills, re-energize their sales focus and hear about new trends and the systems the brokerage is trialing.
There are also personalized intensive training times in the schedule, when Maria is taught to become proficient in the new skills needed.
Segmenting the time this way has proven to be really effective, and has made Maria feel more secure about trying new things. It gives her time to practice and become familiar with any new ways of doing things.
This makes her more likely to use the coaching tools in the system who step her through whenever she is out on the road and needs a quick refresher.
Since introducing AI, Bot Brokerage’s profits have soared, buoyed by reduced running costs, increased Realtor retention and significantly improved customer loyalty and brand value awareness that has really driven their sales and revenue. It’s also opened up new revenue streams to the brokerage, which has now significantly increased its referrals revenue from mortgage brokers, financial institutions, insurance and credit score companies.
The new approach by Bot Brokerage has removed the stressful “busy-ness” from the life of Maria and their other agents. This lets them get more done in less time, while at the same time providing a significantly higher level of personalised service to buyers and sellers.
Realtors have reported feeling significantly less stress and love that the BotVA support and back end systems allow them to genuinely switch off and focus on family time when they are home, while feeling secure that the details are being taken care of.
Could this be the future? What do you think?
Kylie Davis is the head of content and real estate for CoreLogic Australia. Connect with her on LinkedIn or @kdavis_Corelogic.