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Whether you view AI as a technological “holy grail,” like Bill Gates, or “summoning the demon,” like Elon Musk, there’s consensus that, one way or another, AI will transform life as we know it. Multiple industries will feel the impact of this growth, including real estate, where AI continues to transform how agents approach their work.

Between 2010 and 2014, global investments in AI technology grew from $1.7 billion to $14.9 billion, according to eMarketer, and global AI revenue is expected to reach $36.8 billion by 2025. By 2018, IDC predicts that 75 percent of developer teams will use AI technology in one or more business applications or services.

At its core, AI is an enabling layer of technology that leverages computers to instantly sort through massive amounts of big data to identify trends or opportunities. This capability is key to real estate pros’ success. Before the AI revolution, agents had to sort through trends and opportunities manually. Figuring out who was ready to buy or sell, finding leads, and identifying the way markets were moving was a combination of manual processing and instinct.

AI is changing all that by bringing disparate sources of data together and mining them for actionable insights.

A more efficient road to closing

To start, AI enables agents to focus on opportunities with the highest likelihood of closing in the shortest amount of time. Buying and selling homes can be a long and drawn-out process. The decision is one of the most important decisions a person makes in their lifetime, and the transaction is likely the largest. Potential buyers (and sellers) can’t be rushed through the process, but this poses a challenge for agents who have benchmarks to hit.

Funneling energy into leads that go nowhere is not an efficient use of time. However, figuring out which opportunities are likely to close in a timely manner was not really possible before AI.

With AI, agents can not only generate leads but also validate and enrich them with data. The technology gathers available data and yields insights around prospects’ behaviors and preferences, so agents know when and how to approach. For example, most buyers today start by searching online before they talk to an agent, and according to NAR, over half of homebuyers in 2017 found their home through the internet. One sign of an unmotivated lead is that they have not done initial research about the market. Another sign is if a prospect is not pre-approved for a mortgage, in which case that deal won’t close anytime soon. An individual agent obviously can’t dig through data for this information about every lead, but AI can.

Highly targeted social selling

In addition, AI can analyze behavioral trends on agents’ websites and leverage those insights to automatically optimize Facebook ad targeting strategies. The Pew Research Center estimates that 72 percent of all online U.S. adults visit Facebook at least once a month. Millennials, who are active Facebook users, also happen to be the largest group of homebuyers. Facebook is a key platform to connect with leads and an absolutely necessary component of any successful farming strategy.

Like postcard marketing, the key to success in targeting prospects is reaching the right people with the right message. This is where AI will come into play in 2018. AI can analyze behavioral data to identify the people who are most likely to respond to a marketing message. For instance, if a lead visits an agent’s website and looks at multiple three-bedroom properties, an agent can then target that lead with a personalized ad on Facebook that includes that preference. You can’t do that with a postcard!

Streamlined agent workflows

AI will also transform real estate in 2018 by streamlining workflows. Helping someone successfully buy or sell a home can be thrilling, and it’s why many agents get into the business in the first place. However, real estate also involves a lot of details and menial tasks. Following up with leads, entering data into the system, and making sure all the paperwork is signed is tedious, but critical to the process.

AI will transform real estate in 2018 by eliminating tedious tasks through automation. AI-enabled tools can automatically send an email or text after a certain action is taken by a lead, which has the double benefit of taking follow-ups off an agent’s plate and ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. The brain space and time that would have been dedicated to remembering to send an email can instead go toward building relationships.

Reducing the paperwork burden is another example of how AI will streamline workflows. Advancements in natural language processing and image recognition make it possible to quickly scan transaction closing documents, digitize the information, and automatically import the data into an agent’s CRM. Contract signing doesn’t have to be an administrative nightmare.

Freed from all this data entry, paper-pushing, and back-and-forth communication, agents can focus on delivering the best possible service, closing deals, and building their real estate empire.

Matthew Murphy is the chief marketing officer of Chime Technologies and is responsible for making Chime a household name in the real estate space.

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