Ask McEnearney: Will artificial intelligence (AI) take over real estate?

This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Hope Peele of The Peele Group and McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact The Peele Group at 703-244-6115 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: Will artificial intelligence (AI) take over real estate?

Answer: With the current writers’ strike happening in the entertainment world, a popular topic of conversation is the upswing of AI in various industries, and real estate is no different.

There are a few things that might seem like obvious deficiencies when it comes to AI — for example, staging a listing for marketing. Of course, a bot could give some tips, and might even get to a point at which it can scan a room and give personalized suggestions. But a bot is not going to move an ottoman. Aside from the literal human body aspect of it though, let’s talk about a few of the less evident things that some people may think could be done by AI.

Pricing — In fact, artificial intelligence has been in use for years on many popular real estate websites like Zillow. One only has to Google “Zestimate accuracy” to read all about typical margins of error. I’ve even discussed it in various posts on this blog. While a “Zestimate” can provide a jumping off point, they are rarely accurate, and Zillow even admits to their own margin of error.

Negotiation — If you haven’t been through a real estate transaction before, you might think that negotiation only happens when you’re trying to get an offer accepted. However, it actually happens throughout the process. Even little things can be negotiated, like furniture sales or rent backs. The ability for a listing agent to get on the phone with the buyer’s agent and just talk those things through can be a huge asset — not to mention make your purchase or sale much easier to navigate.

Individual needs — Nobody prefers a robot when they call up a customer service line. I think many of us know the feeling of loudly telling an automated answering service that you just want an operator, but the robot keeps telling you to push a number. Since humans are usually on each side of a real estate transaction, the nuances can be as varied as the individuals involved. An experienced Realtor can understand you in ways that a computer cannot.

Psych/counseling aspect — While some don’t necessarily expect it, there can be very strong emotions that come up during a real estate transaction. Sellers who are excited to make a move into their new home can feel nostalgic and maybe even regretful. Even when you’re making the best move for you — and you know it — it’s common to get cold feet. Of course, it’s never a Realtor’s job to convince you to buy or sell. But it is nice to have someone to bounce ideas off, remind you why you’re here, and the best way to move forward, if you need it. Your Realtor can get very close to you during the course of a transaction, and it is nice to know that you have them on your side.

Your Realtor also doesn’t have any goal pre-planned. If the decision ends up not right for you, a trusted Realtor should agree with you and continue to help you achieve your goals. However, if there is a computer working on your behalf — at the end of the day they are still working with their programmer. Individual Realtors are usually playing the long game, meaning that they want their clients to continue to use and refer them for years to come. That doesn’t always mean making a sale. Computers are more binary.

So, while artificial intelligence can be helpful in writing a real estate property description, it will never take the place of a trusted Realtor. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you ever need some human, and very real advice on buying or selling a home.

Hope Peele is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Alexandria, Virginia. She grew up in Old Town and currently lives in Del Ray. As a partner with The Peele Group, Hope is dedicated to guiding her clients successfully through the many-faceted process of buying or selling a home. Contact Hope at 703-244-6115.

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria