2024 will be the year of the automated agent

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Stop worrying that AI will replace you, MoxiWorks’ York Baur writes. Start learning to use technology to your advantage by automating low ROI tasks.

At Inman Connect Las Vegas, July 30-Aug. 1, 2024, the noise and misinformation will be banished, all your big questions will be answered, and new business opportunities will be revealed. Join us.

Embracing technology is critical to your business, but it’s also not a magic wand. It’s an enabler. It’s your assistant. It’s there to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks, which then allows agents to get back to the real deal: relationship and business building.

If there is one word or phrase that comes to mind from 2023, it’s AI. We were genuinely entrenched in an all-things AI circus. As a technologist, I’m always a fan of the industry’s progress; I’m not a fan of anyone painting technology as something that will fully replace a human in our business. 

The critical missing piece from the ongoing AI conversation is that technology isn’t a magic wand. It’s an enabler. It’s a sidekick. It’s the Robin to your Batman. So if you’re waiting for AI to swoop in and save the day, you will be waiting a long time. Let’s review the trends, stack up the stats, and show you just how automation can either harm or work in favor of your business.

So, if AI isn’t a be-all-end-all savior, what is it? 

AI is just the latest form of automation, not a panacea. As someone who wrote AI code back in the mid-1980s and as the CEO of a proptech company, the likes of the ChatGPT and others jumping on the scene aren’t as novel a concept as the media made it seem. Sure, you can use these large language models to write a listing description or your email copy, but how much time is that saving you? 

The real AI time-saver is the AI that automates your business. The AI that helps automate listing presentations, market assessments and marketing material liberates agents from repetitive, time-consuming tasks. 

Agents can harness intelligence-driven predictive analytics to foresee market trends and client preferences. By analyzing vast data sets, technology can offer tailored recommendations, and agents can anticipate their client’s needs, providing a personalized experience that sets them apart from the competition.

Doesn’t that sound way more appealing than a chatbot that writes about the number of beds/baths? Don’t you want to ensure you’re not one AI hallucination away from a blown relationship or, worse yet, a misrepresentation lawsuit?

Some hard truth numbers

I constantly think about a stat we’ve learned by working with agents and building technology for agents: 90 percent of homebuyers say they would use their agent again, but only 6 percent of agents regularly follow up with clients after they close.

We know that most homebuyers eventually become sellers, so in a market where listings are king, the agents who fall into that other 94 percent (those agents who aren’t following up) are flat-out leaving money on the table. This is where automation can be so critical. The right kind of automation ensures an agent follows up and stays in flow at the right time for the long haul.

When you use automation the right way, you unlock more time to spend on personal relationships. Wielded properly, AI can give you the boost you need to make these connections.

So what’s next?

Now imagine if your technology nurtured that database of 400 in a personalized way and notified you when someone was likely to list or buy so you could follow up at the right time in a human way. Automation ensures you are always there when your contacts need you, and you never miss a listing. That’s automation that matters. 

The good news from all this AI fodder is that it’s at least brought automation to the forefront. Something important to remember is that automation is the goal, and some of that will be done with AI, but some won’t. I believe 2024 will be the year of the automated agent as more folks embrace the technology they previously ignored or didn’t use to its full advantage, but it doesn’t mean everything will be all about AI. There’s a difference.

Either way, I think increased technology adoption will come from all of this, which will help drive agents’ business. When automation makes an agent’s life more accessible, the tech is doing its job.  

Value and change

Our industry is undergoing sweeping, permanent change. And that change isn’t just AI — it’s the upheaval of buyer’s agent commissions, as we saw with the recent NAR settlement, a hot and cold housing market, and more. We’re all running our businesses under a microscope, and we can ignore it and get left behind — or try to tackle it head-on.

By discerning where AI adds genuine value to relationship-building, we will all be better prepared to thrive in an increasingly competitive landscape. It’s time to embrace AI (and technology) not as a panacea but as a strategic ally in driving real estate success.

Final thoughts

Talk to your broker or technology partner and make sure you are getting the most out of your technology and all the automation it has to offer. Attend trainings, or if you’re a broker, host trainings. Better yet, have your proptech provider host training. They likely even have some on demand.

Automation is truly so much more than just a chatbot, so if you’re asking for AI for the sake of it, you’ll be misled by shiny object syndrome. It’s time for all of us to think more critically about our business strategy.

Automation is the key to scaling and growth in any market but especially in the one we face today. Whether you’re a broker or an agent, getting your automation working as your sidekick is the key to unlocking more business inside your sphere and in your community.

York Baur is a start-up and turnaround exec for MoxiWorks. Connect with him on Linkedin.

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