December 14th, 2017 at 11:00 am


While there’s nothing quite like showing a home to a prospective buyer in person, technology is helping some agents hasten the deal before setting foot in the residence. They’re providing immersive walkthroughs from afar, uploading images of furniture into a virtual version of the home’s interior, and getting many required documents filed through smartphone apps.

Welcome to virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning in real estate marketing, a brave new world where you really don’t have to be all that brave to dive in.

“I think we are on the cusp of really cool technology using digital new platforms. There are a lot of ideas out there where these technologies can be leveraged today,” said Dede Madsen, Vice President of Technology and Innovation for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.

More time for the agent-client relationship

Imagine, Dede said, an agent engaging with a potential buyer. They find a property, then make an offer on it. Then there’s a lot of back and forth, and the offer is accepted. More back and forth follows regarding other documentation that might be needed or services that might need to be scheduled for the property, such as inspections and appraisals.

“AI intelligence is becoming more and more sophisticated, where an intelligent piece of software could actually take care of all of those pieces in between the offer and the actual sale–a virtual transaction coordinator, if you will,” she said. “That gives the agent the ability to focus more on nurturing the client relationship and closing the transaction, for example.”

A growing array of options

The options for virtual real estate aids are growing rapidly. Some platforms are designed strictly for agents, others for consumers. Here’s a rundown of a few that have captured the industry’s attention lately that you should keep an eye on, with some insights from Dede:

Enhancing the agent’s role

“I’m excited to see what transpires in the real estate world,” Dede said. “A lot of people ask if artificial intelligence will ever replace a real estate agent or a loan officer. I don’t think they’re ever going to replace either of those roles. I think they only will enhance them. From a real estate perspective, they are technologies that can fill in a lot of gaps.”

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