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AI is changing everything. That’s a statement that comes as little surprise to anyone these days, and least of all to the many real estate agents whose markets are being saturated by artificial intelligence-empowered buyers. With a current market value of $18.2 billion, these “proptech” services are flooding the real estate industry, and buyers are growing more thoroughly informed than ever — long before they even speak to an agent.
By instantly gathering property and real estate market data, crime rates, and similar inputs, AI-driven platforms are now helping would-be property owners get a fair and up-to-date residential real estate valuation at the push of a button.
In the last few months, I have noticed buyers even resort to ChatGPT to conduct preliminary research into areas they are considering investing in. One builder contacted me after he had used ChatGPT to discover which potential neighborhoods in the Northern Virginia area would be a good candidate for the types of homes the builder specializes in. This AI-empowered buyer is not an abstract “persona” that agents should anticipate appearing by 2025; they are already a force to be reckoned with in the here and now.
For agents to fear that redundancy lies on the horizon is only natural in light of such dramatic change. But, fortunately, those fears are misplaced. The world yet has much use for real estate agents, and indeed, the advent of realty-focused AI presents more opportunities than threats for those willing to change with the times. Below are three ways to do precisely that.
1. Keep up
AI is making buyers smarter. That means that agents need to become smarter, too. Agents should continually further their education and research to ensure that their expertise remains relevant and invaluable to buyers. This translates to consistently being the first authority on the local market and keeping a careful pulse on its fluctuations and trends. Understanding the information available to buyers before enlisting an agent’s services is also vital here, as it offers insight into the areas in which agents can contribute the most value.
Agents must stay caught up to the very same technological advancements that buyers are using to their advantage. Just as AI empowers the buyer, it can be a game-changing instrument for agents who can utilize it. Agents should, therefore, follow suit and maintain a watchful eye over developing technologies. They should quickly spot new AI-assisted tools that could help strengthen their usefulness to buyers and keep them one step ahead of the competition.
Keeping up does not need to be complicated or even cost money. I set up Google alerts that ping me whenever a new report about prop-tech is released. This service costs me nothing and provides me with invaluable information.
2. Think of buyers — and AI — as teammates
It is helpful to think of the agent and buyer as team members with a common goal. The agent provides leadership and expertise, while the buyer—the final authority on what he or she wants—provides direction. Either party relies on the other to succeed, and what benefits one party benefits the other; they are a team.
So when buyers are empowered by an AI that assists in elucidating what exactly they are looking for—like HomeByte, an AI assistant that pinpoints homes tailored to the buyer’s interests and even aids in deciding if the neighborhood is a good fit—it works in favor of the agent by progressing the team toward a more efficient resolution.
That makes AI a part of the team, and it ought to be embraced as such. Instead of waiting for the buyer to bring new tools to the table, agents should proactively seek out technologies that will make the process easier and faster for the buyer—and, by extension, for the agent.
3. Realize your value
What, then, if it becomes too easy for the buyer? Will it become so easy that they no longer require the services of a real estate agent? While that may one day be the case, it certainly isn’t yet. The agent still has a unique place within the team; they need merely to realize the value they offer and aim to fill that role as well as possible.
Good agents are still the most experienced, relevant source of information for any buyer. While most AIs are necessarily trained on historical data, the agent is constantly immersed in their present market and has been for years. Therefore, agents are better equipped to make real-time judgments and offer expertise tailored to the precise time and place. Agents also bring their emotional intelligence to the table and can help buyers navigate—without costly mistakes—what, for many of them, constitutes the most important transaction of their lives.
Even the best AI tools are only just that, and most buyers who are serious about making wise investments are willing to bypass the cheap alternative of doing it all themselves for the assurance of an expert who is more than likely to save them money in the long run.
It is easy to assume the worst whenever the market takes a drastic turn. And, to be fair, change never does come without risk. But risk is always accompanied by opportunity for those willing to grow with the business. It is plain to see that artificial intelligence is altering the face of real estate and will continue to do so. All that remains to be decided is whether the agent will harness this change for the better or risk becoming obsolete.