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Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News; Shutterstock

What ChatGPT can (and can't) do for agents 

The popular AI tool can be a helpful starting point when writing content like listing descriptions or social posts. But it has its limitations.

February 25, 2023
5 minutes

Key points:

  • ChatGPT can give agents time back — a precious commodity in the world of real estate.
  • Agents will have better results if they provide detailed, specific prompts, but even then, they can't skip the step of editing or expanding on the output.
  • Verifying the accuracy of the output is critical to ensure listing descriptions and other content doesn't run afoul of fair housing or MLS rules.

They'll never have to stare at a blank page again.

That's what agents using ChatGPT say is one of the tool's most important contributions to their professional lives.

ChatGPT, a natural language artificial intelligence program, can expand and enhance your word choices in everything from marketing emails to listing descriptions to correspondence with other agents or clients, agents using it say.

"I literally use it every day," says JJ Johannes, an Iowa-based agent with The Johannes Group of eXp Realty. "But I only use it once or twice a day."

A time-saving jump start

Ashoka Kola, co-founder of real estate AI company Agent iChat, says if you understand its limits, ChatGPT or similar natural language programs can help any agent, from experienced veterans to those who just earned their license.

"It is buying them the most expensive thing in their job, which is time," he says. "Then they can actually put their own human touch and make it even more useful for them."

Nicole Beauchamp, a Manhattan real estate agent with Engel & Volkers, says she has used ChatGPT to kick-start her writing. "This is literally the beginnings of what might have taken me hours to come up with," she says of her first experience with the tool. "Now I can focus on expounding and moving things around."

For Beauchamp, ChatGPT can provide a core to build and edit around. "I cannot imagine completely using it to write something without editing and sort of 'zhuzhing.'"

Beauchamp enjoys writing — not as much as she used to, she admits. And she's good at it. But, she says that's not true for everyone. "There are smart, analytical, great agents where maybe they aren't amazing writers, but they know their stuff," she says. ChatGPT may be especially useful for them.

Johannes fits that bill. "There are wordsmithing things, like putting together the beautiful description of a property, that isn't something that comes naturally to me," he admits. ChatGPT doesn't just save time, he says. It makes his writing better.

And for him, using ChatGPT is no different than using any other tool available to an agent. The result depends on the skill of the agent using it.

The better the inputs, the better the results

"The output of what you get from ChatGPT is very much determined by the input you give it," Johannes says. "The more detail I give it, the better the listing description I get."

Johannes also uses it for social media posts. "I might start with 'Write a 100 word social media post for buyers about mortgage interest rates,'" he says.

"I started to learn not only does a better description of a property matter, but a better description of what I wanted in a social media post matters ... Now my input to improve my output is more along the lines of 'Act like an expert real estate agent. The target is first-time homebuyers in 2023 and the topic is what are the first two steps you need to do to buy a home in 2023.'"

Beauchamp cautions that any agent using ChatGPT or another natural language assistant still needs to review and verify the output. "There are no shortcuts," she says. "You can't just press a button and expect to have something that's absolutely perfect."

A powerful tool with notable limitations

Kola of Agent iChat says users need to understand the limitations. ChatGPT isn't connected to any MLS feed, nor does it know how to abide by state and local regulations about the wording of listings or marketing.

For now, ChatGPT is free — though you can pay $20 a month for premium service that means you get faster responses and no downtime even when the site is busy. But Kola says that doesn't mean users aren't paying for it. Right now, it's collecting your information.

"The more you search, the more they have," he says. Every use of ChatGPT adds to the system's knowledge base. 

And it won't always be free to use, he predicts. "Maybe for a year it will be, maybe two years,  but if you become completely reliant on this tool to make your content, two years later, they might charge you $1,000 per month, which not every agent can afford, right?"

None of this fazes Johannes, who says he will assess the cost when OpenAI starts charging. "I'm currently not going to pay for it, but the time may come, when and if it's not available for free."

And no matter how eloquent ChatGPT is, agents still have to close the deal, Beauchamp notes, so it shouldn't be considered a substitute for doing your homework.

"The consumer's going to say 'Great, let's schedule a Zoom call,'" she says. "And you'll be there twiddling your thumbs because you won't be able to articulate anything even resembling whatever it was that you had ChatGPT produce."

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