Although technology has its place, it simply can’t compare with the human touch when it comes to marketing and running a real estate business. Broker Teresa Boardman differentiates the skills AI is good at from those that you can do better.

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It doesn’t seem all that long ago that real estate agents were marketing themselves as “high-tech.” That used to be shorthand for agents who used email, and then later on, it became shorthand for agents who could send and receive text messages.

Today, “high-tech” seems to be more about smartphones, lead capture and artificial intelligence. There is a ridiculous amount of emphasis on technology in real estate, which is why it is a great time to be a human being.

It’s a relief when a human answers the phone

It seems like we all stopped answering the phone a long time ago. I am thrilled when I call the doctor’s office and get to talk to a person. A real human person who can answer questions. We can have a conversation. It makes health care less dehumanizing.

Talking to automated answering systems about pressing one or two or saying your account number is a way that companies can save money. Most consumers see it for what it is.

Sure, my call is important, and it is being answered by a machine and may be recorded for quality purposes. It just reminds me that most companies are paying top executives so much that they cannot afford to hire people to answer the phones and still make a huge profit.

The self-checkouts at Target can save time. They are high-tech, but I am happy to let a real live cashier do the job for me when they are available.

Technology as it is used in business is all about trying to save money by replacing humans with machines. That is great for the business but not for the customer.

It’s a good time to be human

Right now is a wonderful time to be a human being in the service sector. It’s so easy to stand out. Heck even answering the phone can make an agent a superstar in the eyes of customers and clients.

Humans have traits like compassion, a sense of humor and creativity too. We have soft skills that, technology, including AI cannot match. We can listen and provide support.

AI can schedule appointments, answer questions and write instructions, but in the end, AI is artificial and not at all intelligent. It isn’t kind or friendly, or even all that interesting. Customers do not look forward to interacting with it.

A good experienced real estate agent knows all sorts of things that AI just doesn’t get. Like the fuzzy logic that is used to determine how much a house will sell for.

The real estate agent will use actual data and add some experience and logic to it. She might know that the home is in an area where there is a lot of noise, that power lines run through the backyard and so much more. She might know the color of the door matters as does the landscaping.

She can look at the house and compare it with other houses in the area, and she knows if the house is more valuable or less valuable based partly on how the house looks.

When the house goes on the MLS, she can use her imagination and creativity to write a description of the home that is much better than one written by AI. Sure, AI might catch up someday, but it will never be as creative or as smart as a human. Until then, it can still be used to correct grammar, spelling and punctuation.

AI doesn’t make house calls or sit and listen to customer fears and concerns. It doesn’t offer empathy or understanding and can not give advice based on decades of experience working with hundreds of humans.

Humans are emotional, and there are always emotions involved in buying or selling residential real estate. Human real estate agents who understand that are better negotiators. Will AI or any technology be able to understand what homebuyers and sellers really want better than a human real estate agent does?

Some folks are using AI to create content for social media. Producing content is a great opportunity to be human and unique and to stand out. It isn’t hard to publish a photograph that is unlike any other. The internet is littered with what I like to think of as photographic cliches.

I can’t see myself using AI to generate email for a drip email campaign. There is enough of that stuff out there already, and it really isn’t that hard to create an email. It can even be personalized so that the recipients feel more like a human and less like a lead.

There are still ways to use AI effectively

There are plenty of uses for AI. I can’t wait until I can use AI to enter new listings into the MLS. It would be nice if I could just give AI a spreadsheet with income and expenses and have it prepare a tax return.

I haven’t searched for it, but there must be an AI tool that will help me create my business plan for 2024 along with a budget and an income projection. I really think it can all be done brilliantly with technology.

It really is a great time to be in a people business. There are so many opportunities to stand out in a world that seems focused on replacing humans with technology.

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

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