The future is here: how AI is being used in real estate

A practitioner asks ChatGPT a question
A practitioner asks ChatGPT a question

The future is here: how AI is being used in real estate

A world where listings practically write themselves? Just a few years ago, this scenario belonged in a sci-fi film alongside jetpacks and robot butlers. Now Artificial Intelligence (AI) has expanded rapidly, becoming an integrated tool across all aspects of the real estate industry. The way properties are bought, sold, rented, managed, and marketed will no longer be the same again. And property practitioners are ensuring this is for the better, using AI in innovative ways to get their work done simply, affordably, and effectively.

Unpacking the poll results

To find out more, Prop Data polled property practitioners to find out how they’re using AI in their day-to-day work. The results revealed:

49.4% said content creation.
15.4% said they’re not using AI.
12.2% said property valuations/CMAs.
5.8% said chatbots.
5.8% said lead generation.
5.8% said research.
1.9% said predictive analytics.
3.8% said other uses.

According to Anton Jansen van Vuuren, Chief Operation Officer at Harcourts South Africa, these results show signs that property practitioners are slowly becoming used to the idea of AI in their industry. “We’re living in an age of creativity and productivity, which is driven by AI. A tool like Prop Data’s CleverCompose, powered by ChatGPT, is the first step in understanding what a Large Language Model (LLM) can do,” he says.

ChatGPT, as an online service, had one hundred million users two months after its launch. It took platforms such as TikTok nine months, Instagram 2,5 years and Facebook 4,5 years to reach the same number of users. It’s just a matter of time before AI will assist any property practitioner on a daily basis,” he adds.

Commenting on the roughly 15% who have avoided AI, Jansen van Vuuren says a few users regard AI as a threat, with some even believing it is wrong for humanity. “What most seem to forget is that AI is there to serve humanity and work alongside humanity to allow them to make better decisions. AI may replace specific jobs but it will also create new jobs and opportunities and will grow over time. Most job definitions, even in real estate, will gradually change, but the fact that we will collaborate with AI more and work alongside AI is unpreventable if we want to stay relevant and innovative,” he shares. 

The benefits of AI in real estate

As more real estate businesses embrace AI, they’re starting to see the value that adding this technology can bring. Some key advantages include making better decisions, improving productivity, saving time and effort on routine functions, adding new capabilities and services, and providing better experiences for clients. 

“Practitioners have a duty to assist their clients, and using AI can help, whether it’s creating content, providing feedback, or delivering a top-class experience,” says Jansen van Vuuren. “As the saying goes, you will rise and fall to your systems. The estate agent with the most relevant knowledge and systems will serve their clients the best and be regarded as an informed real estate professional.”

Anton Jansen van Vuuren

Jansen van Vuuren believes real estate businesses should strongly look at adding AI tech to their operations where it can make a real difference. “You can use AI to make better videos and images that will enhance listings and marketing collateral. It can help you put together winning PowerPoint presentations or mine data that will provide insights about your market. AI is being used to communicate with clients through telemarketing or chatbots. And it’s also helping practitioners create staged properties so a prospective tenant or buyer can see how a property can look with the right furniture.”

Putting AI to good business use 

Harcourts South Africa boasts over 135 offices in all major metro areas. The company is well known for innovating by investing in market-leading tools and technologies to ensure that it remains a leading presence in the real estate industry. Jansen van Vuuren says with the amount of data they have generated over many years and received through APIs, there is no doubt that AI will play a strong role in the business going forward. 

“At present, AI is being used to pull all our data together to supply us with management information that is important to us as a franchisor and our franchisees from Google Business Profile ratings to our market share,” he says. “Mining the data helps us to easily identify where we are performing well and where we need to focus on to improve. Data quality from third parties must be cleaned to make our data relevant and correct. Through AI and data mining, we can have a source of truth that can assist us in running a successful business and adding value. For us, it is all about the customer experience and how AI can get the right information in front of the right client as soon as possible.”

How to get started with AI

Jansen van Vuuren says educating staff about AI is an important step in using it in your business. As the greatest AI use is presently in content creation, he says businesses should understand how to use these tools to get the best possible output.

“There are several LLMs on the market, but starting with ChatGPT and learning how it works can be a good first step. Have your team understand simple concepts like AI prompts. For example, ‘write this better’, ‘translate the following to English’, ‘assist me in writing a letter to a tenant/seller/buyer’, or ‘write a job ad to recruit interns with the following attributes and qualifications’. This will help the AI produce responses that meet your goals rather than provide generic content,” advises Jansen van Vuuren. 

AI and the way forward for practitioners

Jansen van Vuuren encourages real estate agencies to recognise the potential AI has for their business operations. “As a property practitioner, you want to be as professional as possible, and using AI tools in your daily life to deliver a service created by AI will become the future of real estate,” he says. “By using the data within your company and AI tools, you can give clients a better experience, empower practitioners within your business, and make smarter decisions.” 

Within Harcourts South Africa, Jansen van Vuuren says they’re even taking AI further by making clients more active in the real estate process. “Our partners and the integration of information over multiple platforms will not only educate the clients we deal with better but help our clients use AI to find success in their real estate journey. It is not only about the property practitioner using AI but about our clients using AI to identify the best person and service for their needs,” he says.