BEFORE: Stylerod’s REimagine Home’s new AI technology lets you upload photos like this living room (in its “before” state) and virtually remodel it. (Photo: REimagineHome.ai)
Think Geek Squad meets The Property Brothers. Last month’s National Association of Realtors Summit in Miami brought together innovators, investors, and real estate professionals to chat like chatbots about PropTech. It’s a trendy insider term meaning “property technology.”
Just as technology has changed the way we shop, get to places, and communicate, it’s also profoundly changing the way we buy and sell homes. NAR’s Director of Emerging Technologies, Dan Wiseman, agreed to talk to me about the biggest takeaways from the conference, minus the geek talk.
Q: Does technology make the process of buying or selling a home less painful?
answer: The role of technology in real estate is to streamline processes and reduce stress points. Most of us are familiar with DocuSign or similar technology, which provides the ability to electronically sign legal documents. This simplifies what used to be a cumbersome process. Remember when you had to hand-sign documents and send them overnight when you wanted to submit an offer or sign a loan? Now you can autofill your initials with your fingernail on your phone By doing so, you can sign for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
We are trying to do something similar at other stages of the process, such as negotiations. Submitting an offer, waiting on the counter, working through two real estate agents, this is an area that needs work. Some companies are trying to build offer platforms, but it’s still not working. That’s because brokers need to provide a certain level of control to ensure that information is communicated correctly. That said, technology is evolving and may help eliminate funding delays. The fact that mortgage financing often takes 45 to 60 days to close is an area that needs improvement.
Q: What are the drawbacks of new PropTech?
answer: Fraud Risk. While you want to take advantage of technology, you also need to be wary of scammers. The more access to your data, the greater the potential for fraud. These scammers can trick you into thinking they are someone else. Deepfakes can essentially recreate a person and their voice. If you’re asked to send money or provide account information online, pick up the phone, call the person, and ask, “Is this you?” We have heard many stories about money disappearing.
Q: So how will this AI power change the way we select real estate agents?
answer: We are still a people business. Most sellers and buyers need a real estate agent to help them through the process. But today, you need an agent with great IT. A baseline question to ask when choosing an agent is, “How do you use technology to make the buying and selling process smoother?”
Q: What was the biggest game changer you saw at the summit?
answer: Perhaps the most revolutionary change we are seeing is AI technology that allows homebuyers to see what their home would look like if they renovated it. The online tool REimagine Home allows you to reimagine a room by uploading a photo of it. For example, I took a photo of my bedroom and turned it into an office. You can change the furniture, flooring, wall color, and light fixtures to get a glimpse of what it could look like. As for exterior improvements, a company called Hover allows prospective buyers to do the same.
Q: How does ChatGPT fit into the real estate world?
A: ChatGPT (GPT stands for Generated Pre-Trained Transformer) is one of several artificial intelligence products with access to billions of data points. You can use human-like language to answer questions and create written or oral content. You can ask how much you should pay for the house. The program researches the market and returns concise answers in seconds. Real estate agents use ChatGPT to create residential listings, promotional copy, social media posts, and blogs.