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Could AI replace real estate agents?

Updated April 5, 2024 - 9:38 am

Bruce Hiatt is hoping the integration of artificial intelligence will help take his real estate company to the next level, and in turn, could require less physical agents in the process.

Hiatt, a Las Vegas-based broker who is also the owner of Luxury Realty Group, is currently beta testing an AI conversational avatar that speaks with potential homebuyers and learns from those interactions. Hiatt said they are scheduled to launch the technology in 22 U.S. cities and three in Canada as part of the rollout at the start of June, The goal is to have about 24 agents in each city.

The idea behind using AI is to aid in the homebuying search via software that can learn potential homebuyers’ names along with preferences of what they are looking for in a home. Hiatt is partnering with India-based chatbox builder Kore.ai on the technology. The company received $150 million in a new funding round, including an investment from chipmaker Nvidia.

“Unlike ChatGPT, our AI website will have a fully conversational AI avatar. The avatar’s name is Luxora and she will engage conversationally with you as you ask questions about Las Vegas real estate,” Hiatt said. “She can also handle very complex, compound search requests you say to her. For example, ‘show me Summerlin homes in the Summerlin Ridges with four bedrooms, an office, 3.5 bathrooms, a four-car garage, a kitchen with a Wolf stove and ceiling height in the great room 25 feet or higher.’”

Hiatt acknowledged there is obvious pushback from employees regarding the integration of AI as many fear the technology could cost them their jobs.

“People assume all AI is like that,” he said. “And we may not be able to speak for how it will effect other industries, but as far as real estate agents go, the AI is more of an advisor, it will never be a licensed agent, there’s always that legal need for a licensed agent… there’s still a certain need for humans to do the work too, maybe just in a different way.”

Jonathan Catalano, a real estate agent with ERA Brokers Consolidated in Las Vegas, said he uses AI technology to help him write marketing materials and descriptions for homes he is listing. He said he is not worried about AI actually replacing the need for agents.

“I look at it from the standpoint that this technology is here and as a Realtor I need to embrace it and use it to my benefit,” he said. “So I didn’t shy away from it when I think a lot of people get afraid of it, I mean it’s so complex and powerful and generally people don’t like change so they’ll kind of steer clear of AI, but I’ve been using it every day in my business.”

Aya Shata, an assistant professor at UNLV’s Journalism and Media Studies, who has been studying AI’s integration into the media landscape and overall workforce and the ethical issues arising around the technology, said there is always a initial fear factor built into public sentiment when something new comes around.

“I feel like it’s actually changing and for the better, and what I mean is that you always fear what you don’t know, but when you actually start to use AI, you realize it’s not really that perfect, and it can’t replace humans for so many reasons, it can’t replace jobs but it is definitely going to change how we do our jobs.”

Shata did acknowledge that some major corporations and companies, mostly within the online and technology industries, have publicly stated that they have been able to cut jobs and replace those positions with AI.

“It is true that AI may take a few jobs, but not all of the jobs or most of the jobs,” she said. “There are certainly jobs it can actually replace, but the point is that it will also offer a lot of new jobs as well. If you go back to when social media first came around and everyone was concerned, especially in television and radio and traditional forms of communication, it has not really been replaced but it’s been adapting. And with social media we now have lots of social media jobs like social media managers, social media directors and entire social media marketing agency companies, all of this just to manage social media.”

Contact Patrick Blennerhassett at pblennerhassett@reviewjournal.com.

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