The plugins will allow users to employ conversational language to ask the chatbot details about specific listings and the kinds of homes they seek to fine-tune their search results.

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As the race to harness the latest artificial intelligence heats up, both Redfin and Zillow bolted out of the gates this week with separate plugin features using AI bot ChatGPT.

The plugins from both companies will allow users to employ conversational language to ask the chatbot details about specific listings and the kinds of homes they seek — such as price ranges or bedroom and bathroom counts — in order to fine-tune their search results.

For example, a user can enter a detailed request into the chatbot, such as “show me three-bedroom houses with finished basements in Dallas, Texas for under $650,000.” The bot will then respond with listings that match the user’s criteria.

David Beitel

“Generative AI is changing the way people search for information,” David Beitel, chief technology officer at Zillow, explained in a statement.

“At Zillow, we’ve been embracing AI and machine learning starting with the Zestimate in 2006,” Beitel continued. “As the first major residential real estate marketplace to bring advanced, AI-powered search to the home shopping experience, we understand its immense potential, and we look forward to developing more tech innovations with OpenAI technology in the future.”

The Zillow feature — which the company announced Tuesday — is currently only available to people who have been granted access to ChatGPT’s plugins. ChatGPT maker OpenAI currently has a waitlist for those wanting access, and the company has said it will expand availability over time.

An example of Redfin’s ChatGPT plugin at work | Redfin

Zillow’s plugin is currently in its alpha phase, allowing the company to refine and enhance certain features while early users get a feel for it.

The effort is part of Zillow’s long-term goal to create a real estate “super app” that offers customers a seamless platform handling all real estate needs, including buying, selling, renting and financing.

Redfin, meanwhile, announced its plugin Wednesday, saying the tool should help create more personalized home searches that go beyond what was previously possible via the company’s websites and apps.

Ariel Dos Santos

“I think the most powerful way the Redfin ChatGPT plugin can make buying a home easier today,” Ariel Dos Santos, Redfin’s vice president of product, said in a statement, “is by suggesting homes and neighborhoods that would not have been uncovered via a map-based real estate search.”

“This could also help homesellers get their listings in front of a wider audience of serious buyers,” he added. “We’re just getting started, and the Redfin ChatGPT plugin is getting more powerful every day.”

The plugins from both Zillow and Redfin come as AI evolves at a breakneck pace. Interest in the sector exploded last year after OpenAI made ChatGPT publicly available, and the technology has since found applications in an array of industries. Real estate professionals have lately used chatbots to write marketing copy, listing descriptions and blog posts, among other things.

Redfin and Zillow also have a particularly strong impetus to develop new AI tech. Both companies have retreated from their high-profile gambles in iBuying, and have looked to other verticals such as mortgages, rentals, and home tours as means of diversifying. In that light, AI potentially opens a new product frontier for the firms.

Rich Barton, CEO of Zillow Group. Credit: Zillow

Rich Barton

During an earnings call with investors Wednesday, Zillow CEO Rich Barton also said he expects AI to be potentially as transformative as graphical computer interfaces, such as Windows, or touch screens were in the past.

“The launch of ChatGPT and now the new Bing and Bard,” Barton said on the call, referring to Microsoft and Google’s ChatGPT competitors, respectively, “have brought AI out of the basement and into the light.”

Email Ben Verde

Redfin | Zillow
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