By Roy Dekel, CEO of SetSchedule
Real estate has always been an industry focused on people—making connections, forming relationships, doing legwork and having face-to-face meetings. An agent's personal network can sometimes be just as valuable to them and their clients as their market knowledge. Things are changing quickly, however, with the advent of advanced technologies and the mainstream availability that makes them so useful to growing businesses.
Technology has, like with every other industry in the last few decades, invaded this traditionally tech-wary space, and has prompted many shifts in the way real estate companies do business. From prospecting and listing to showing and closing deals, the flood of data and technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and data science that help make sense of it all have led to better accuracy and operational efficiencies across the board.
The influx of data in particular has caused a massive upheaval of the industry; though comps, sales and tax records and other metrics have always factored into the selling and buying of properties, the amount of data available today goes far beyond that. This has led to real estate companies and professionals having to change the ways they approach certain elements of their jobs, putting data first in order to ensure accuracy and a smooth deal process.
AI is another relatively new advancement in technology, at least in its more accessible formats, and has made an impact on multiple industries, including real estate. AI algorithms can be used to match homebuyers and sellers with the agents most suited to not just their market, but their personalities and emotional needs, as well.
AI can also be used to automate the referrals process and ensure the quality of incoming leads, as well as conduct market research and help companies hone their efforts with predictive modeling that identifies properties likely to enter the market soon. These are just a few of the basic business responsibilities that used to take up hours of an agent's day but can now be accomplished in a fraction of the time through the use of AI.
These developments have caused a general shift in the way the industry is viewed, from being viewed as people-driven to being seen as data-driven. This means we now have up-and-coming REALTORS® and real estate startups putting tech at the forefront of their businesses instead of simply retrofitting, or worse, pretending they can keep up using legacy methods. The unfortunate truth is, those pros who don't embrace technology won't be able to scale their businesses at the same pace, nor will they be able to answer the demands of a consumer group that is also increasingly adept at using technology to streamline their end of things.
Big data and AI-powered tools exist on the consumer side, as well, empowering them with much more information than they have ever been able to access before—which changes things for agents and brokers, too. Buyers and sellers no longer have to take it on faith that they're getting good prices for their properties; they can actually hold their professional partners accountable by doing their own market research. In some cases, they can also use these tools to access all the information and views of the property they could want, all without leaving their computers.
This accessibility of data, and in many instances, the tools to process and derive insight from it, has caused some buyers and sellers to assume they don't need an agent at all. That has been a recent obstacle in the industry, forcing agents to prove both that they're valuable in the first place, and then prove they're more valuable than their competitors, of which there are many.
The point being, plenty of real estate deals are closed without the assistance of a broker, but there's no guarantee that those deals were closed on the most optimal terms. The best outcomes happen when the expertise and experience of a real estate professional is augmented by sophisticated data analysis and AI/machine learning to ensure accuracy and efficiency. Technologies like this are bringing major change to the industry, and it's coming fast. Real estate is still all about people, but when it comes to giving those people the best experience possible, REALTORS® are going to have to team up with tech, or get passed over for the competition.
Roy Dekel is chief executive officer and co-founder of SetSchedule, the technology innovator that is revolutionizing real estate business development by drawing on its multi-patented matching engine that leverages AI-powered predictive data, insider market insights and automated marketing software tools. He possesses more than 10 years of experience in the real estate development field.