Artificial Intelligence is Here to Change How You do Business
Chiyoko Kakino, Senior Vice President of Brand Growth, CENTURY 21 Canada, and host of The Real Estate: Real Success Podcast
Unless you’ve been off-the-grid for the past few months, you’ve probably heard more and more people talking about Artificial Intelligence. From the most tech-savvy among us to those who are ‘less inclined’ towards computers, there’s no doubt you’ve all heard big things about how AI has the potential to revolutionize work as we know it.
But let’s scale back for a moment and think about how AI is poised to change the way the real estate industry works. What does it mean for the average brokerage that wants to help agents provide the best value for their clients? How does AI help a broker who wants to retain their top agents? And most importantly, will AI really change the way real estate operates, or is it just the latest fad? I had the opportunity to sit down with mentor and coach Ron O’Neil, who is also the founder and owner of AI Intelligent Solutions in Barrie, Ontario to learn more about where AI can take real estate, and the pros and cons for a real estate brokerage.
1. Think of AI as the newest tool in your toolbox
While automation has been improving for decades, AI as a practical everyday tool exploded in November 2022 when Chat GPT was released to the public. “Within five days, it was the most adopted technology in the world,” Ron explains. “Over a million people subscribed to it, and that was with zero marketing. AI is far different than most technologies, and at the end of the day, we have to adopt it. If you’re not going to embrace AI your competition down the road will, and you’re going to lose agents.”
As daunting as it might seem to learn a whole new technology, Ron assures us that it’s just a matter of starting the journey. Brokers must be the ones to take the plunge, educate themselves on what’s possible, and lead by example. “AI is not complicated, and the best thing you can do is get started and show your agents that you’re using it. They’re not going to run away if you start using AI, but you have to help take the fear out of them with education.”
2. Think of what AI can actually do for you
Now that you’re thinking about using this great new tool, the next question to ask is: ‘What can this actually do for me?” Luckily, Ron had some great ideas of how brokers and agents can get started, and a lot of them revolve around content creation. “If you talk to a real estate agent, they probably hate having to create writeups for their property descriptions, and that’s where you can go into a tool like Chat GPT, feed it some details about your listing, and let it create a beautiful property description. You could use it to create newsletters to stay in touch with clients, and this is where brokerages have an opportunity to really show value to their agents. By promoting the use of these new AI tools, they’re showing their existing and potential agents that they don’t need to seek out a third-party for content help or let creating it take up too much of their own time.”
Besides content for agents, brokerages stand to gain a lot from AI tools, with marketing being a key factor. Many tools already available could revolutionize the amount of marketing support brokerages provide their agents, a huge asset for smaller brokerages that don’t have the capacity to hire a dedicated team. Ron also pointed out that the way finance is handled in a brokerage could be completely overhauled by new tech. “What you’ll be able to do is upload the listing documentation, the purchase of sale documentation, and the AI will automatically transfer that information into the system. Now you’ll still need human eyes on it, but it’s one more thing that allows smaller brokerages to play with the big boys. And the brokerages that are going to come out of this stronger are the ones that will use this tech to streamline their business so that they have more one-on-one time with agents at the end of the day.”
3. Think about the potential for risk
But before you jump into the world of AI tools, it is necessary to do the due diligence of thinking through all potential risk. As exciting as any new technology is, it comes with the potential for harm and exploitation, and while AI can do so much for a brokerage, you must protect your people and clients first. “At the end of the day, we have to be careful with this and understand that when we use this technology, especially when it’s free, they’re taking your data,” warns Ron. “You shouldn’t be taking confidential information and putting it inside these systems.”
In talking to Ron, it’s clear he sees a vast array of possibilities for AI, but as exciting as he finds it, he knows that we have to create rules and boundaries for our brokerages before these new tools become commonplace. “Don’t become over-reliant on AI, be careful about where you’re putting your data, and implement regulations regarding use of AI,” he suggests. “Brokers should be training their staff on quality checking the content they use AI to create and send out into the world, and emphasize that it’s only a first draft.”
At the end of the day, this was my most important learning from our conversation. AI can be a guideline, a source for inspiration, and a tool, but all content needs to have your personal, human touch. Make the content yours by making sure it’s coming from your voice.
While it may still take a few years to turn to Chat GPT each time you need to send an email, it’s clear that our industry, like so many others, is just at the beginning of a new chapter in how we do business. It’s exciting to think about what’s possible if brokers are willing to take the plunge, learn more about what’s out there, and make the case to their agents that this is no longer something out of a Sci-Fi movie, but the edge that could get them their next listing.
With an open mind (and appropriate caution!), I believe we could see the brokerages and agents that have been struggling to keep up, start to thrive. And as much as Ron and I focused our talk on this new frontier of technology and all the busy work it can do for us, I think AI will provide us with an amazing opportunity – the time for more human connections.
If you’d like to learn more about what AI tools Ron suggests, or you want to hear more stories from leaders in our network, you can check out episodes of The Real Estate: Real Success Podcast on your preferred podcast platform.