AI technology could have lasting impact on real estate

Artificial intelligence cannot replace the agent-client relationship, but recent advances in this area could help agents convert more leads to sales.

“Success in consumer-driven sales is heavily dependent on being able to respond to leads quickly,” said Wayne Anderson, a Birmingham native, and founder and CEO of the startup SmartAlto, a company that features a text messaging chatbot designed to help real estate agents respond to leads. “The majority of consumers do business with the first competent sales professional that they come into contact with.  The reality is real estate agents have a very short window to respond to inbound leads.”

Anderson, who worked in real estate through the financial sector for over a decade is currently building SmartAlto in Silicon Valley, with the help of seed investors and the accelerator Y Combinator.

As opposed to listing platforms like Zillow and Trulia, SmartAlto is simply an application that helps real estate agents respond 24/7 to inbound leads, Anderson said.

“The great part is our platform helps real estate agents respond to lead regardless as to whether the leads were generated in a digital or non-digital environment,” Anderson said.

While chatbots are nothing new to the technology world, they are fairly new to the world of real estate. Up until a couple of years ago, only a few companies across the globe had created chatbots for their real estate businesses.

According to a 2016 article by Realtor Magazine, chatbots could be used in a variety of ways by real estate agents, including “providing property details from a large database of information, answer general real estate questions, ask leading questions to create a prospect profile, answer company questions or integrate with social media chatbots.”

Anderson was originally designing a tool for the commercial world but made the switch to residential after arriving in California.

“The transition from commercial to residential was strictly based on assessment of the market,” Anderson said. “Essentially, residential real estate agents are business owners. In our case, agents were quick to embrace our technology and they began to beta test it very quickly. We honestly felt like helping real estate agents utilize technology to win more business and improve their conversion rates was important.”

Anderson said there are currently around 150 real estate professionals working with the startup.

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