More than 30 proptech leaders who responded to the Inman Intel Index monthly sentiment survey signaled the areas where they believe artificial intelligence will most change real estate in 2024.
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Despite AI’s tantalizing potential to enable a slew of new tools and revenue streams, the more tangible promise it holds for real estate may lie in less glamorous — but no less important — operational improvements.
That’s one of the key takeaways drawn from nearly three dozen proptech company executives, owners and investors who shared their thoughts on artificial intelligence and other topics for the November edition of the Inman Intel Index monthly sentiment survey.
These leaders have been on the front lines of navigating AI’s promise and pitfalls, each fighting for survival in a market of scarce capital while staying on top of the latest innovations in tech.
Now, they share their thoughts on both the limitations and the transformative opportunities that advanced AI can offer the ever-changing, intensely personal and legally fraught world of improving the real estate transaction.
Dive into their insights below.
AI’s future? Think less flashy
You’ve probably heard a slew of inventive proposals for AI-fueled products that have made waves in real estate — human-like chatbots, more intuitive home-listing searches and even some advanced virtual reality showing products.
But those aren’t the areas where proptech leaders surveyed by Intel see the most potential for the technology.
- When asked what area of AI or proptech is most visibly changing real estate today, only 1 of the 25 proptech leaders who responded to this question pointed to the cutting-edge areas of home design, listing enhancement or virtual reality.
- Instead, 11 leaders said AI is currently most impactful at reducing labor-intensive tasks, while 7 more brought attention to tech’s role in streamlining documentation and transaction digitization.
How do they see this affecting brokerages?
- More than half of these proptech voices believe that real estate companies implementing AI will benefit primarily by freeing up human capital for higher-value tasks.
While in the minority, some proptech leaders saw potential for AI to affect the bottom line more directly.
- A combined 40 percent of respondents said that the biggest opportunities that AI offers real estate companies include either reducing headcount or increasing market share.
But one key path to this happening — by making gains in lead generation — may prove elusive.
Behind the curve
If AI could meaningfully and reliably improve the process of generating or managing leads, brokerages would jump at the opportunity.
Proptech leaders surveyed by Intel think it’s just not there yet — and may not be for a while.
- Only six of the 25 proptech leaders who responded to this question said that lead generation was the way AI is most visibly altering real estate today.
- As the industry turns the page to the new year, even fewer — a mere four respondents — are convinced that lead generation will be the most visible AI game-changer 12 months from now.
A near-plurality of the group went so far as saying that lead generation and CRM improvements were the areas where the real estate industry was most “behind the curve” on AI.
- 28 percent of respondents named lead generation and CRM as the industry’s “most behind the curve” area.
- This matched the share who said that the industry was most behind the AI curve on transaction and document processing.
- But that could soon change. Transaction and document processing is the area that the largest share of respondents — 44 percent — believe will most change due to AI over the coming 12 months.
- 1 in 5 respondents expressed that the industry was not yet seeing the full fruits of AI’s potential to generate market analysis.
On the chopping block
The overall picture these responses paint is one where AI empowers real estate agents and employees to be more productive, not one where their work is replaced.
But workers in other corners of the industry may not be so lucky.
- Asked which role is more susceptible to disruption or devaluation from AI, only two proptech leaders named real estate agents.
- The majority of respondents said mortgage loan originators could potentially be devalued by this class of tech.
- Another 28 percent said that neither role was susceptible to devaluation by AI.
There are other areas as well that may be ripe for disruption in the eyes of proptech leaders, if the technology can ever catch up.
- One respondent described the prospect of title automation as a “$25 [billion] opportunity,” for example.
In the meantime, the industry will continue to navigate a messy but promising field of potential innovations. The Triple-I will continue to monitor these developments as they evolve over time.
Methodology notes: This month’s Inman Intel Index survey poll was conducted Nov. 21-30, 2023. The entire Inman reader community was invited to participate, and Intel received a total of 675 responses. Respondents for this survey were directed to the SurveyMonkey platform, where they self-identified their profiles within the residential real estate market. Respondents were limited to one response per device, but there was no limitation to IP addresses. Once a profile (residential real estate agent, mortgage broker/banker, corporate executive/investor/proptech, or other) was selected, respondents answered a unique set of questions for that specific profile. Because the survey did not request demographic information for age, gender, or geography, there was no data weighting. This survey will be conducted monthly, with both recurring and unique questions for each profile type.