If you want to use the ChatGPT chatbot for marketing, you need to be aware of its limitations and potential drawbacks, writes broker Teresa Boardman. It may make more sense, in fact, to do your own writing.

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I have been playing around with ChatGPT, which is an artificial intelligence chatbot. Some seem to believe one day it will do all our writing for us and that it has a lot of potential for writing property descriptions for real estate agents.

When I gave it some prompts and asked for an article about seniors and housing, I discovered that ChatGPT is great for perpetuating stereotypes about aging and about older people and their collective housing needs. It was also pretty generic and predictable.

ChatGPT’s pre-conceived notions about aging

Here is some of what I got after giving ChatGPT several prompts and asking for a short article about seniors and real estate:

“But what if we told you that the key to success in 2021 could be as simple as thinking old?”


“Older homeowners may be more hesitant to use technology like virtual tours and online listings”

Being a “senior” myself I find the idea that older people may not be comfortable using virtual tours hilarious, especially considering they have been around for more than 30 years. Today’s seniors were young 30 years ago. Most have been using the internet for a few decades now, it isn’t at all new and it is very hard to avoid.

Today there is internet access in senior housing and in hospitals and nursing homes, too. It is hard to find a senior who isn’t somewhat computer literate and even harder to find one without an iPhone.

The average age of an AI programmer is over 40 but that doesn’t mean they can relate to people who are 55 to 105 years old. Yes, the term “senior citizen” covers a period of more than 50 years making it the group with the largest age range.

The age range is so large that the term “senior citizen” has no meaning whatsoever, yet it persists.

I also got the usual BS about seniors having mobility issues and the need to be close to medical care. I am sure that is true for some seniors. As for me, I prefer walkable neighborhoods with a lot of amenities, green space and bike trails.

Anyone who talks to me, or tries to market to me using the same tone as ChatGPT is taking a risk.

What does it mean to ‘think old’?

I don’t even want to know what “thinking” old means. Does old think? From what I have read, old people don’t really think but tend to forget stuff and, of course, they don’t know how to use technology.

There was one paragraph that I thought was perfect:

“According to the National Association of Realtors, 63 percent of US homeowners are now at least age 50, and 31 percent are at least age 65. This means that there’s a huge potential market of older homeowners who may be looking to sell their homes this year.”

This paragraph is also close to being alright:

“To sum up, instead of just focusing on the latest apps and trends, real estate agents should also pay attention to the older market. By understanding their needs and preferences, you’ll be able to tap into a huge potential market of sellers and buyers. With the current market, the opportunities are there, it’s just a matter of looking in the right place.”

It just assumes that all seniors have special needs. I know a few of those, but I think it is important to listen to our clients and treat each as an individual with individual needs instead of as part of a group with an age range of half a century.

Older buyers and sellers offer exceptional opportunity

I do agree wholeheartedly that real estate agents should pay attention to older demographics and that there are always opportunities if one knows where to look.

To be fair I know humans who teach others how to work with seniors who spew stereotypes and are not aware of it. I have seen some horrible marketing materials written for seniors. We live in a society that treats aging like an unwanted disease.

I have read newsletters that were written by people who claim to be “experts” on seniors or on senior housing that were filled with stereotypes and a lot of condescension, too. Now they can have it all written by AI, which may be cheaper.

Aging is an experience that starts at birth and is not the same for any two individuals. Anyone can be in poor health and have mobility issues and prefer to live near a medical facility.

I don’t think we need AI to perpetuate stereotypes about older adults. I think we can all do that just fine on our own.

If you plan to use AI for assistance in writing anything that is housing-related, take care to remove words and phrases that may violate fair housing laws. Also, remove any condescension.

If you plan on selling houses this year you may find that there are opportunities to work with older homebuyers and sellers. Some may even appreciate being treated like rational adults by their Realtor.

Personally, I would rather do my own writing. I think the world needs more humanity and it needs more female voices and probably more older women working in AI.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

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