Using artificial intelligence, the latest technology represents an opportunity for the real estate industry to rebrand itself at a time when solutions are sorely needed, writes Inman founder Brad Inman.

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Every week, a real estate company announces a new artificial intelligence product — reminding me of the days when every business put out a press release to say it launched a website.

These AI plugins promise to help agents do their jobs faster and better.

But something bigger is coming

Imagine more extensive real estate initiatives like what Elon Musk is promising for the auto industry, recasting Tesla as an artificial intelligence and robotics company.

What about a homebuilder reimagined? AI finds and acquires land, secures entitlements, deploys industrial home production and offers seamless digital sales.

In real estate services, something more profound is also likely to happen; we just haven’t heard about it yet, beginning with significant new partnerships.

For example, who will be the first major real estate company to announce a game-changing deal with OpenAI?

Zillow, and are likely candidates.

Zillow founders Rich Barton and Lloyd Frink once worked for Microsoft, which has led the way with OpenAI, rapidly deploying the technology throughout its product mix. 

But Zillow’s deep relationships go beyond that. Anyone in the AI business envies its real estate data — the fuel of artificial intelligence — and wants to partner with the Zillow real estate brainiacs.

A relationship master, CoStar Group’s Andy Florance has deep data assets as well and won’t miss a beat on AI. News Corp. (owner of Move, Inc., which operates already cut a deal with OpenAI for its news content. 

OpenAI is not doing exclusive deals, so everyone will eventually join its artificial intelligence party.

More important than who is what

Agent AI productivity plugins are already here, but something more profound is coming: vertical and horizontal integration of real estate transactions.

That is a fancy way to say a seamless, digitized, automated real estate process. Bingo, bango, bongo.

In fits and starts, Zillow has been working on this vision for a decade, acquiring transaction manager Dotloop, launching but shutting down Zillow Offers, and, more recently, acquiring ShowingTime

A tailor-made suit

However, there is little horizontal integration with mortgage, title and closing. The consumer experience remains clunky.

The current transaction is like a tailor-made suit before the job is done. You can put on the sleeves, the cuffs, and the body of the jacket, but the pieces are not sewn together — and the buttons are missing.

AI and robotics can help clean up the messy homebuying process. AI will issue title reports, conduct home inspections, prepare purchase offers and contracts, and initiate closings. 

The third brain

The task of writing this story is an example of seamlessness in journalism — from idea to first draft, through the second read, the third read and the final draft to publish. 

With the help of AI editing plugins, my copy is edited, cleaned up, and more focused and valuable to the reader. I have an AI editor sitting inside my copy who is one step ahead of me in real-time — like a simultaneous interpreter, editing as I write.

Together and along with my human editor, we create something better — the work of our third brain.

The story’s angle and conclusion are all mine, but the editing mechanics are the job of AI. Blending into the background, it grows in importance and relevance as it better understands me and what I hope to publish.

None of this has crushed my soul or diminished my artistic or journalistic contribution; AI has merely enhanced the cumbersome art of helping to structure my writing and rearrange and edit my copy.

For those who use AI to be the creator, their work is like stale bread: tedious to devour.

Rebranding real estate

In real estate, AI cannot do everything; people are essential. But working behind the curtain, artificial intelligence will help create a seamless, friction-free process.

Making the task simpler and more certain, AI will excite people about buying a house. More transactions will follow.

The latest technology represents an opportunity for the real estate industry to rebrand itself at a time when it is sorely needed.

Can you imagine the credibility lift when consumers can buy or sell a house with the ease of sending for a pizza, ordering an Uber or meeting someone online?

Imagine if people could focus on the joy of the house, not the gnarly process of making it happen — like the pleasure of the destination after riding in an on-time Uber, chowing down on a hot pizza after it is delivered, and experiencing the satisfaction of syncing up with a new friend or lover.

My advice for the future: invest in the AI future. Your role will only diminish if you don’t participate in these breakthroughs.

Email Brad Inman

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