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San Francisco-based independent brokerage Avenue 8 is rolling out an artificial intelligence assistant for agents — with an eye toward speed and efficiency, brokerage executives revealed to Inman in a demonstration of the new product.
Sidekick, a spartan, amenity rich AI assistant, is currently available to the 3-year-old brokerage’s 400 agents with plans to offer it to outsiders before the end of 2023, executives told Inman during a demonstration last week in which Co-CEO Michael Martin argued that, when it comes to providing value, speed matters.
“It is critical that agents demonstrate value across two vectors: specific knowledge and speed,” Martin said in an email to Inman. “Many have the former, but the latter is a constraint. Even if you’ve been working in the industry 20-30 years, the ability to quickly generate, analyze, and assemble information across a variety of modalities is incredibly challenging. It’s not about having a personality or a face or a name – it’s about functionality and speed.”
Avenue 8 boasts agents across the Bay Area, Greater LA, NYC, and Palm Springs. It told Inman there are plans to open more offices in the coming year.
Agents should have access to market stats, like a neighborhood’s median sales price, average days spent on the market and updated mortgage data. Usually, that information comes slowly, in the form of an email or a follow-up call. With Sidekick, part of the appeal is the minimalist interface, which provides agents with insights beyond a typical software experience.
Sidekick can provide a list of rates for mortgage types, not in itself particularly impressive in light of today’s competitors. But asking it to, “create a spreadsheet I can send to my client” and “make this into a graph” will generate both results equally effectively in a matter of moments. It can also be created as part of an Instagram post.
That resulting Instagram post can then be bundled as part of a longer social media campaign that Sidekick can map out in a narrative format for Avenue 8 agents by asking it to “create a one-week content series on the importance of curb appeal.” The app will provide a day-by-day content list with ideas for copy and visuals, along with a few samples of cover art. It can then be asked to do the same thing for TikTok.
The app can also leverage computer vision to quickly create listing descriptions and is programmed to not hallucinate, meaning it won’t “guess” at what’s in an image.
Sidekick is good for tracking down profile information on market colleagues, performing typo-tolerant natural language searches for properties and generating mortgage cost breakdowns on a per-home basis.
Avenue 8 has plans to further Sidekick for external use, allowing it to become more of an outward facing product than only something for its own agents. Understand that its agents will be first to experience advancements as the product evolves. The company is training it to be consistently FHA compliant and cognizant to local rules and regulations. It can also help agents assist their clients with natural language search requests.
As Martin stated, Sidekick’s true value is realized in its expediency. While the idea of “speed to lead” is traditionally rooted in being the first to respond to a potential client, it’s not enough to just be quick, especially given how prolific CRM-based response automation is today. Value has to be delivered, too.
Avenue 8’s AI is built on top of OpenAI’s product, not merely a re-wrapped offering, aligning with the company’s repeated mantra of improving an experience so broken that it has become the subject of multiple lawsuits challenging how agents are compensated.
Nimble, tech-forward brokerages like Avenue 8 work within a tighter radius of their client base, allowing them to be better equipped to evade the crevasses into which the industry’s stalwarts have tumbled lately. In a more unified internal structure bound by technology, market feedback can be cycled faster, technology more intimately applied and the value of artificial intelligence more easily measured.