Simple Ways to Get Started Using AI

November 9, 2019

Jef Conn schedules some of the smart lights to turn on in his home when his alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. While he’s driving to his office, Coldwell Banker Commercial in Lubbock, Texas, to start his workday, he can ask Siri to list all the tasks and meetings on his calendar for the day.

Carrie Little has three Alexa-enabled devices in her house, one of which wakes her up every morning. She owns a boutique brokerage, CarMarc Realty Group in the Chicagoland area, and she can ask Alexa to tell her all the newly-expired listings because her local MLS has an Alexa skill.

These are just a few examples of how real estate pros are using artificial intelligence in their daily lives. Conn and Little discussed the benefits of AI for business Friday during the Idea Exchange Council for Brokers at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco. “AI can be seen as scary, but instead, think of it as a tool—especially when you have repetitive tasks that can be done with a click of a button,” Conn said.

AI is a machine that can do human-like tasks. Robotics often come to mind, but today it’s in our phones and computers, said Karen Belita, a data scientist with the National Association of REALTORS®. She has been helping NAR make predictions and create more personalized information for members by using data and machine learning.

If This Then That is an AI app known as ITTT, which enables users to set up commands that will help them with their business. It can be downloaded on Apple or Android devices, or on a computer. For instance, if you leave your office at a certain time, you could have the app automatically send an email to someone. You also could ask it to email you if a new listing is found in a specific area.

Most MLSs also have data search tools and apps that brokers and agents can take advantage of and even automate. “If you’re running a brokerage and your goal is to help agents generate new business, you’re already paying for tools from your MLS and associations, so why not take advantage of them?” Little said.

She’ll conduct MLS research based on the likelihood someone is going to sell, such as the number of years the person has been in the home. She also extracts data from rentals with leases that are set to expire within 90 days to send new-buyer workshop information or invite them to an open house. She’ll also look at the owners of rental properties with expiring leases to see if they have a mortgage and if there’s a possibility they’d be interested in selling.

Conn, who’s a commercial practitioner, also uses AI tools to target clients based on when leases expire. If his group owns or manages the property, then he sends information on lease renewals; if the businesses are leasing in other buildings, Conn will try to entice them with locations his company represents.

To get started using AI, Conn suggests trying something you can use every day. Buy an Alexa-enabled device, for instance, and add skills that are relevant to your business or market. Pair it with smart lights to turn on and off at certain times of the day. There are smart cameras you can set up outside rental properties that are motion-sensitive and can be controlled via an app on your phone.

AI and smart devices can also help keep real estate pros safe. Little suggests purchasing smart plugs that you can use in your listings so an agent can schedule the lights to turn on from their phone before they arrive with clients. Plus, the smart plugs can easily be moved from one house to another.