When Keller Williams Realtors David Bramante and Kayla Horwat changed neighborhoods in Los Angeles, they found new clients the old way — door-knocking and handwritten notes. And after seeing that their best sales came from real-life connections rather than automated leads, they got the idea to link homeowners with a real human agent through Amazon Alexa voice technology on the Amazon Echo.
The virtual voice assistant, which was launched by Amazon in 2014 and quickly grew in popularity, uses speech recognition tools to respond to queries like “what will the weather be like tomorrow?” or “play classical music.”
People with programming knowledge can also build their own Alexa Skills, otherwise known as commands for their Echo devices — and that is precisely what Bramante and Horwat did for a real estate audience through their company HomeyPoints, which they launched in August.
It works like this: their Alexa Skill, Home Agent, captures potential leads from words homeowners say when talking to their Alexa — including the obvious, “Alexa, where I can find a real estate agent?” — and then automatically connects them through the device to the phone of an agent in their ZIP code who signed up to HomeyPoints’ network. Only one agent can claim one ZIP code at a time.
“We started working on an Amazon skill that let agents message homeowners,” Bramante told Inman, adding that agents do not need to be super techie to use the skill and if they miss a call from an Alexa, the device sends them a lead with the homeowner’s address by phone or email. “That way, they won’t have to do the old-school brokerage techniques that nobody is really doing anyway.”
In this way, HomeyPoints hopes to bridge the old-school brokerage tricks of actually speaking to homeowners in one’s neighborhood with the voice assistant technology that both homeowners and builders are increasingly adopting.
The service currently costs $100 a month for agents and gives them access to a full ZIP code of homeowners. So far, over 130 agents across Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Oregon have signed up. By doing so, each agent becomes the exclusive go-to real estate professional in their ZIP code, if it hasn’t already been claimed. Any remaining open ZIP code can be claimed like this as well.
To see which leads amount to sales, Bramante and Horwat monitor back-end stats through the Amazon platform and its own database. HomeyPoints plans to expand nationwide as more agents from all ZIP codes sign up.
The company recently submitted a new version of its Skill to Amazon for approval, and it should be available for consumers to install on their Alexa devices later this week, Bramante said.
According to the HomeyPoints founders, voice technology is the biggest new frontier for an industry that is rushing to embrace a long list of new appealing technologies.
“The experience that homeowners will have is going to be wildly different,” Bramante said. “They’re never going to go to Yelp again, they’re never going to go to Zillow again, and they’re never really going to go to brokerages again.”