BARRISTER'S BRIEFING: Artificial Intelligence: The Pros and Cons for Real Estate Practitioners
Brian Levine | June 5, 2023
ChatGPT, Chatsonic, BingChat, YouChat. No, these are not social media sites where you chat about your favorite recipes or movies. These are artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot sites where a person can enter a query and have a response generated by the computer, culling information from the vastness of the Internet. The results are human-like e-mails, essays, stories and pretty much anything else that a human can create, but it’s done by a computer.
In the fast-paced and competitive world of real estate, professionals are constantly seeking ways to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and deliver exceptional results. With the advent of AI, real estate professionals now have access to innovative tools that can enhance and optimize their workflow, including creating listings, marketing materials and other documents. However, it is important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of incorporating AI into these crucial aspects of the real estate industry. This article explores the pros and cons of using AI for real estate professionals and 95% of it, including this introduction, was written primarily by AI as an experiment (see my additional comments at the end).
Time and Cost Efficiency
AI-powered tools can automate time-consuming tasks associated with creating property listings, marketing materials and other documents. These tools can generate professional and accurate content at a fraction of the time it would take a human professional. This efficiency translates into cost savings for real estate professionals who can allocate their time and resources to other critical areas of their business.
Tailored Marketing and Personalization
AI can analyze vast amounts of data, such as property features, location, demographics and buyer preferences to generate personalized marketing materials. By leveraging AI, real estate professionals can create marketing campaigns that resonate with buyers, increasing the likelihood of attracting buyers and expediting a sale.
Efficient Customer Engagement
AI empowers real estate professionals to provide instant, personalized assistance to potential buyers, sellers, landlords and renters. The AI model can handle numerous queries simultaneously, ensuring prompt responses and reducing the need for human intervention. By integrating AI into websites, real estate companies can enhance customer engagement and offer round-the-clock support, ultimately improving customer satisfaction.
Enhanced Property Search Experience
AI-powered algorithms can analyze large datasets and extract valuable insights to assist clients in finding their ideal properties. AI can understand natural language queries and provide relevant property recommendations based on specific requirements, preferences and budgets. This feature simplifies the property search process, saving time and effort for both real estate professionals and customers.
Automating Routine Tasks
Real estate professionals often spend a considerable amount of time on repetitive administrative tasks. AI can automate many of these processes, such as generating property listings, scheduling appointments and sending personalized notifications. By freeing up time previously dedicated to administrative duties, real estate professionals can focus on higher-value activities, such as building client relationships and closing deals.
Data-Driven Decision Making
AI algorithms can analyze vast amounts of real estate data, including market trends, property prices and demographic information. By utilizing this wealth of information, real estate professionals can make more informed decisions regarding property valuation, investment opportunities and market predictions. Data-driven insights provided by AI can help professionals stay ahead of the competition and increase their chances of success.
Fair Housing Compliance
AI can help real estate agents comply with fair housing laws by flagging potential discriminatory language or practices in listings and marketing materials. It can provide agents with real-time feedback and suggestions to ensure they adhere to the principles of fair housing, promoting equal opportunities for all.
Lack of Human Touch and Intuition
AI tools, while efficient, lack the human touch and intuition that real estate professionals possess. The emotional aspect of property descriptions or marketing messages might be challenging for AI algorithms to replicate accurately. Real estate professionals must strike a balance between AI automation and personalized human involvement to maintain authentic and engaging interactions with clients.
Legal and Ethical Considerations
AI-generated documents must still comply with applicable laws and regulations. Real estate professionals need to carefully review and verify the output of AI systems to ensure legal compliance and protect their clients’ interests. Additionally, ethical considerations arise when using AI algorithms to analyze personal data for targeted marketing. Striking a balance between leveraging data and respecting privacy is crucial to maintain trust with clients.
Initial Investment and Learning Curve
Integrating AI tools for creating listings or marketing materials requires an initial investment in technology, training and infrastructure. Training the model to understand industry-specific terminology and optimizing its performance may also require additional resources and expertise.
AI systems learn from historical data, which may contain biased information that perpetuates unfair practices (i.e., fair housing). If AI algorithms are not carefully designed and monitored, they can inadvertently perpetuate discrimination and this could lead to legal and ethical issues.
Overall Analysis (My Personal Observations of AI in My Own Words)
As you have read, AI did a pretty good job in following instructions and culling information in a straightforward type of fashion, however, its style can often be stilted and boring. You can “jazz it up” by asking AI to write in a certain style (example: haiku, Hemingway, Old English), but the substance comes from the Internet.
In preparing this article, I had to do some heavy revisions, major redactions, and noted that some of the information was simply wrong. For example, at numerous points, the program referenced that AI was good for drafting legal documents, contracts and similar binding agreements. This is, obviously, wrong. Real estate agents should never be drafting any legal document. Also, what the program failed to take note of was that our MLS has a vast amount of information relating to properties in our area, but it’s not on the Internet. This means that the information provided by AI could be extremely inaccurate because it does not have the access to it. This information is only available to Realtors, but not AI.
Other issues I came across were, while the program did note there could be biases that are perpetuated unless properly trained, presently, AI would not recognize certain fair housing pitfalls, such as “walk to worship,” “great home for seniors,” “no dogs” (what about service animals?), or “not child-friendly.” As such, it could inadvertently steer certain groups toward or away from properties, in violation of fair housing laws. It could expose Realtors to possible DOS advertising and Article 12 violations (truthfulness in advertising) or Article 2 violations (misrepresentations). Further, with regard to privacy, AI might collect and store data about users, including potentially confidential information. Such information could be exposed if not properly protected. Additionally, copyright law is unclear about whether the words that are spit out onto the page are copyrightable and who would own the copyright (the user, the designer, someone else?). The law has yet to catch up to AI.
While there are some great benefits to AI, there are some serious issues as well. None of these are going away any time soon and AI is here to stay. If you are going to use AI, be mindful of the following:
• Always review AI-generated content for accuracy and suitability.
• Review content for possible fair housing violations and bias, particularly regarding property or community descriptions.
• Consider using AI to gather ideas and concepts, and then craft your own material from it.
• Do not use AI for work you wish to copyright.
• Ensure you have consent to use any third-party material generated by AI, including pictures, and save that information.
AI is great. Give it a try. But be careful.