The AI hype is real: Here’s what real estate pros need to know
Think of AI as an “infinite time saver” that can supercharge your business and free up your time. It’s not going to replace you. In fact, it needs you.
- The rise of AI is right up there with the impact of personal computers, which moved real estate from paper to the digital space.
- AI voice calls played at the T3 Tech Summit this week sounded astonishingly real.
- Humans need to “help” AI by providing quality data as well as ethical guidance.
What's happening with AI now is like what happened with personal computers in the '80s: a once-in-a-generation change in the way people live, work and engage with the world.
"In the '70s, most people didn't put their hands on a computer and real estate was done on paper," T3 Sixty President and CEO Jack Miller told attendees at the T3 Tech Summit this week in Fort Worth, Texas. (Note: Real Estate News and T3 Sixty share a founder, Stefan Swanepoel.)
Things changed quickly once people brought computers into their homes and into their businesses — and then plugged those computers into the internet. MLS books became MLS systems, signatures became digital, tours became virtual and media became social.
Now, computers are everywhere, including in the palm of our hands. They're with us all the time. AI, observers say, is on a similar path. It's not a just a trend, it's a "megatrend," accelerated by the seeming humanity of ChatGPT, which had this humble take when asked for comment:
"When people see AI performing tasks that were previously believed to be the exclusive domain of human intelligence, it undoubtedly fuels interest and curiosity," said ChatGPT, which made a splashy debut in November 2022. "However, it's essential to recognize that AI models like mine are built upon the collective work of countless researchers, developers, and the evolution of AI over decades."
Howard Tager, co-founder and CEO of the AI-powered performance marketing company Ylopo, is optimistic about what AI will do for real estate, for two main reasons: it's an "infinite time saver" and a tireless communicator.
AI voices often seem like AI voices, right? Well, Tager played some calls that were astonishing in their "realness," and in the way they took a prospect — a person — from uncertain to engaged. Imagine a call center where the voice on the phone never takes a vacation, never has a bad day and never forgets its training, Tager said. The technology is still evolving, but it exists.
"It's already starting to get pretty darn good in terms of letting the consumer know you're listening, being empathetic, all of these things," Tager said.
Tager also played AI-generated videos that showed him speaking in multiple languages. It wasn't perfect, but it was a lot more real than "The Polar Express."
AI can create software from screenshots and sketches. It can read and translate inspection reports. It doesn't replace people — but it will allow the people who use it to replace those who don't.
Don't be afraid of AI: Humans and machines can do a lot for each other
This evolution in technology shouldn't be scary, Tager said. This isn't "2001: A Space Odyssey," where an AI named HAL turned against its human crewmates.
"HAL will open the pod bay doors for the industry," Tager said. "He is going to make your lives efficient, better and more fun."
But AI needs human influence to become its best self. It needs access to quality data, said Lisa Larson, managing director of Restb.ai, a "photo intelligence" company. And AI needs help to eliminate bias, which in some cases might mean removing political or religious imagery, for example.
"We want somebody to be able to buy or sell a house without any bias in there," Larson said.
AI needs to be honest, and not pretend to be something it's not. It may sound like a person, but it shouldn't mislead anyone into thinking that it's human.
And it should be more than just a shiny object, creating hype for hype's sake. Said Melissa McSherry, COO of Anywhere Real Estate: "It's not 'Are you using AI?" it's "Are you solving a problem?'"