Learning to Use AI Tools Takes Time but Can Pay Off for REALTORS®

The swift growth of generative artificial intelligence (AI) presents REALTORS® with new ways to research and create marketing materials, interact with the public and crunch data. And for three REALTORS® we recently spoke with; this means more time dedicated to their clients.

While they agree AI won’t replace the time-tested role of the REALTOR® as a trusted advisor, it does present new challenges. REALTORS® are wondering do you start using AI tech tools now? Wait? Or keep doing what’s been successful for you without making any changes.

“When change comes, a certain segment of the industry sees disruption and other segments see opportunity,” says Michael Thorne, a REALTOR® and salesperson in Langley, B.C., who uses AI to aid his work. “This is where we are right now. Learning about and using AI can be a huge opportunity if leveraged properly.”

The adoption of the Internet should be a cautionary tale for anyone who believes AI is useless and will disappear, he says. Studies have shown that it can create efficiencies if used properly.

ChatGPT, an AI chatbot that aims to mimic human conversations in text or audio, is the primary tool being used by many REALTORS®. It’s easy to access, not too hard to use and it has various applications. Other popular options include Google’s Bard.

Free vs. Enterprise tools: It’s important to remember that when you use the free version of tools like ChatGPT, they learn from the information that people feed in. Always be cautious of entering sensitive data, such as proprietary or client information, into free versions of AI tools. When you use paid enterprise versions of AI tools, you have more control over data security.

ChatGPT can be an excellent brainstorming tool, says Thorne, because it has no singular purpose. It can be used to generate and test ideas, as well as practise responses to questions. REALTORS® can even use it to role play.

“Let’s say someone is downsizing for the first time,” says Thorne. Enter a prompt such as, “What are the top five questions someone who wants to downsize their home will have for a real estate agent?” It will provide answers within 10 seconds.

“Now you have more time to craft value for these people and be prepared for the discussion,” says Thorne. “You have a head start on anticipating and addressing issues.”

He cautions against using any AI tool in a way that it becomes a barrier between the REALTOR® and the client. For example, while AI advancements such as virtual home tours are becoming more commonplace, physically visiting a home will gain importance as it becomes easier with AI to fake photos and video.

Using AI for social media, virtual assistant, and a sounding board

Osman Omar, a REALTOR® and salesperson in London, Ontario, says you can use ChatGPT in social media to save time, such as adding emojis into a post or to write a 100-word caption. “Our clients want us out in the community, talking to people about their properties, and this can give us more time to do so.”

He considers ChatGPT to be a ready sounding board, whether he’s determining how to best describe listings, creating a write-up or condensing listing information into bite-sized chunks for various social media platforms. He also notes its ability to help with social media search engine optimization (SEO).

He recommends experimenting for a while, especially if you are trying to use AI for SEO. ChatGPT doesn’t provide real-time information and there will be lagging indicators, so it’s a process of trial and error.

“You can’t just apply it to everything. In some cases, such as faceless videos, I found the quality wasn’t where I wanted it to be, and it didn’t really suit my brand.”

As with any tech, there are pitfalls. Given that AI can generate information that is incorrect, whether it’s a made-up quote or an assertion that turns out to be baseless, you must always take the extra step of fact-checking for yourself.

“We must always establish and enable trust with our clients and you don’t want to get in the way of it,” says Omar.

The ability of AI to act as a virtual assistant isn’t yet at the point of being fully operational, says Omar. It’s possible for a chatbot to help direct a consumer online if they have a basic question which might work for preliminary screening of a client. It doesn’t allow for nuances in conversation that the client wants, though. “The nuances are the very important human component that we provide. People want other people, not robots.”

Quick tips:

  • Do your research on whatever AI product you are using.
  • Try and determine where the information is coming from.
  • Explore the added value you can offer your clients with paid AI tools.

Generate routine starters to get ahead of the day

Callum Moore, a broker and REALTOR® in Kitchener, Ontario, likes to use ChatGPT as a “routine starter” to get the creative juices flowing in the morning and brainstorm ideas. He has created a free ChatGPT video for beginners covering a wide variety of topics including list generation, pros and cons, and using quotes and studies.

“You might ask ChatGPT to list five pros and cons of moving to your area (mine is Kitchener) or, say, living in downtown Toronto,” says Moore. It can generate “pros” such as green spaces for outdoor activities and “cons” such noise and congestion, giving you a head start on creating content or preparing for a meeting.

Or you can ask it to write an email for you in steps. You could provide ChatGPT your draft of a follow-up email that you’ve written to someone whom you’ve just met who wants to sell their home. Ask it to condense the copy into less than 100 words and write it at a grade level that anyone could understand.

Moore also suggests using the tech to summarize resources, such as a chapter in a book or a presentation, which can be especially helpful if you expect to have a conversation with someone about it.

Moore says the main stumbling block that he sees for REALTORS® adapting to and using AI is that it takes time. Not everyone will want to commit to learning, even naturally curious, life-long learners like he is.

“As we create unique selling propositions, there will be more conversations between real estate agents and sellers about how to use AI to sell your home,” says Moore. “We can be sure that AI will continue to grow.”

The CREA Café team is responsible for the official blog of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The CREA Café is a cozy place for CREA to connect with our valued members and friends by sharing our thoughts and insights over a virtual cup of coffee.

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