Allie K. Miller on stage at the T3 Leadership Summit in Scottsdale, AZ, on April 22, 2024.
Allie K. Miller on stage at the T3 Leadership Summit in Scottsdale, AZ, on April 22. (Photo: Stephanie Reid-Simons)

Real estate’s AI era is just starting — here’s what you need to do 

It’s not too late to get on board, but “you have less than a year to figure it out,” AI expert Allie K. Miller told execs at the T3 Leadership Summit.

April 23, 2024
4 minutes

Key points:

  • Creating an AI-first business can give you an edge, but you need to think bigger than ChatGPT.
  • Consider how AI can help with mundane tasks, streamline communication and jumpstart creative reinvention.
  • Customer support, employee and agent onboarding, and sales and marketing automation are good places to start.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Real estate is in its AI era. And the stakes are high.

"We are on the precipice of one of the most significant changes in the history of business," artificial intelligence expert Allie K. Miller told attendees Monday at the T3 Leadership Summit, a gathering of industry executives in Scottsdale, Arizona. "I want you to think about how you're going to take advantage of it."

The good news, Miller said, is that even though it seems like everyone knows about ChatGPT by this point, most people haven't gotten their minds around the bigger picture: creating an AI-first business. 

This is the moment. But the opportunity won't last forever. "Just to add a little pressure, you have less than a year to figure it out," Miller said.

Miller has been figuring out AI for the past 20 years, for Amazon, IBM and others. 

And while it may seem like generative AI — the human-like creation of everything from words to videos to code — is a newcomer to the world of artificial intelligence, it isn't. It's just that it wasn't very good until recently.

Then ChatGPT came along, and it was good. So good that it became the most rapidly adopted app of the internet era, gaining 100 million users in two months. TikTok needed nine months to reach that milestone.

It's not too late to get on the AI train

So what if you're just now embracing the possibilities of AI? Are you hopelessly behind? No. In fact, you may find yourself getting a boost from the first movers, Miller said. "Who else can I learn from? Who else can I steal from who's already figured out all the mistakes? And I can now jump onto that and completely gain all their efficiencies?" 

Miller suggested the "three P's" methodology for building an AI-first business: 

  • People: It's not about replacing them, it's about reducing manual, mundane tasks.

  • Process: Creating efficiencies, gaining insights and streamlining communication.

  • Products: Reinvent creatively despite ever-changing business demands.

She described a Walmart test of AI negotiation with vendors. The partners who participated got faster responses, and most said they'd do it again. The company saved 3% and closed 68% of deals (vs. a 20% goal).

Stitchfix started using AI to generate product descriptions, not eliminating humans, but putting them in the position of identifying the best work. Audi created a similar sort of human-AI collaboration to develop tire styles, with AI taking feedback from designers, developing variations and ultimately delivering 3D prototypes. 

Where to begin

To get started, look to areas like customer support and onboarding first, followed by sales and marketing automation — tasks like writing social media captions, Miller said.

An AI chatbot can make onboarding agents a much more efficient process. Instead of repeating much of the same information again and again, create a dataset that can fuel a chatbot. Here's how: Ask your current team to take 15-20 minutes to write everything they do — and inspire them by asking them to fill in the following sentence: "If someone asked me about (blank) one more time, I'm gonna rip my hair out." An AI chatbot trained on that information will answer  onboarding questions, and the humans can stop repeating themselves.

Miller also recommended trying Perplexity, an AI-powered search engine that is similar to ChatGPT but better at delivering up-to-date results — and citing its sources. She asked it to act as a real estate expert and define the most important trends of 2024, and it identified manufactured housing, self storage and student housing as asset classes that aren't getting enough attention.

While AI still "hallucinates" and needs to be checked, it's a starting point.

"I am allergic to blank pages," Miller said. "This saves me time." She also uses ChatGPT as a sounding board, talking to it for 10 minutes every morning. 

"You can laugh, it's OK," she said. "There's a voice setting. And so you can literally have a conversation back and forth. And so I'll ask a difficult question that I'm going through, or maybe I'll offload some tasks and have ChatGPT pre-write some emails for me."

However you engage, Miller says to remember this: "The AI we have today is the worst AI you will ever see in your lifetime."

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