In our ‘Tech: need-to-know series’ we help you brush up on emerging trends in technology, property and data, so you can win at trivia, stand out at barbeques, and most importantly, keep up with all the changes you need to be aware of and potentially implementing to help grow your business.
If you were a fan of the Terminator series in the 80s and 90s, you may be forgiven for having an inherent fear of body-building robots, or feeling a little dubious when you hear the term ‘artificial intelligence’.
But the truth is, we’ve come a long way since Arnie promised ‘I’ll be back’, and the concept of AI and how it can propel our society forward, across many frontiers and industries, is actually now incredibly exciting.
Property and data, of course, are no exception when it comes to the opportunities AI presents. In fact, many existing and emerging proptech companies already claim they use it to enhance the platforms and services they offer to real estate agents, other property professionals, buyers and sellers.
If you’ve heard about AI and Machine Learning, and nodded along while feeling totally confused, our quick rundown below will catch you up, so you know what platforms to look for in your agency or business, and where you may be able to benefit from this evolving technology.
What’s Artificial Intelligence?
Britannica says Artificial Intelligence is ‘the ability of a computer, or a robot controlled by a computer, to do tasks that are usually done by humans, because those tasks require human intelligence and discernment’.
Put really simply, it’s machines that seem to display intelligence, as opposed to the natural intelligence that humans or animals have.
It’s important, because, as it advances, it means we can simplify a lot of tasks that humans need to do now, so we can free up our own time to do other things. It also means we are able to process huge amounts of data, using a machine, much more quickly than we can now, learn from that data, and make better, smarter decisions.
Video from: https://youtu.be/D5VN56jQMWM
While videos of the Google Assistant, might make AI seem a little concerning, we are nowhere near Terminator-stage (at least not the good T-1000 models), but have made great inroads that have already delivered significant opportunities.
What’s Machine Learning?
Machine Learning is a subset of Artificial Intelligence in which machines are able to learn from data, without being programmed explicitly.
In really simple terms, as suggested by the name, it’s machines that can learn – we give them the data, they read through it or use it and they learn from it.
The idea of Machine Learning has been around for a long time, with computing pioneer, Arthur Samuel, credited in 1959, with the idea it may be possible to teach computers to learn for themselves, rather than teaching them everything they need to know.
How do we use AI and Machine Learning in the property industry?
If you take a quick look at the proptech landscape in Australia alone, you will see it is expanding at a rapid pace, with more than 200 start ups and scale ups already working to make a mark.
Expand the view globally, and you’ll see thousands of companies, generating billions of dollars, by innovating professional practices within both business and consumer spaces.
Compass is perhaps at the forefront of the proptech industry and is embedding AI throughout its entire offering to improve its service. As just a small example, Compass CTO, Joseph Sirosh explained at Inman 2020, Compass is incorporating AI into its predictive search tools, to ensure even with a few letters typed, the right search is predicted immediately.
In 2021, the company released a new Video Studio to US agents, which uses ‘AI-powered phrase recognition and computer vision to classify images, automatically pulling out key listing attributes and descriptions and pairing them with images, to automatically create videos.’
Back on home turf in Australia, proptech companies are also driving evolution of the industry with AI, and at National Property Group, we’re no exception.
Machine Learning and Automated Valuation Modelling
With under-quoting, tight inventory and a rapidly changing market and economy all affecting property, getting pricing right has never been more important.
Agents and valuers, of course, have a wealth of experience guiding their pricing strategy, and over the last decade, have also turned to data to identify recent comparable sales and determine where their next listing fits.
National Property Data’s Automated Valuation Model (AVM) has been built to support that exact process. Drawing on decades of data compiled within the platform, it automatically recommends similar properties that would be considered comparable, in seconds, saving agents and valuers hours each week.
Next, it uses all of the data, and what it has learned from the data it has access to, about market changes and pricing fluctuations, to automatically calculate a suggested price for the property, also transparently providing a ‘confidence rating’.
This confidence rating essentially tells the user how much data the AVM has had access to in order to deduce the suggested price, and if it’s enough to be considered 100% accurate, or at a percentage under that.
The more data the platform has – and new data is being added daily and weekly – the more our machine-learning based AVM can learn, so it provides useful and immediate insights.
What’s next? Real estate robots?
We don’t know about you, but the thought of Arnie, robot eye on display, in a blue suit, matching tie and button up, with shiny shoes, warmly showing a property is something we can all get behind!
On a serious note, though, what’s next is a huge question. While we have been working with AI and machine learning already for decades, we are only just scratching the surface of what’s possible.
What’s important now, is keeping yourself up to date with changes and emerging technology – even through simple 101 articles like this one – so you can evolve your business towards greater success in the future.