Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa is getting into the real estate business. She’s still a bit of an amateur, but she’s now part of an artificially intelligent trend that could change the way people buy and sell homes.
The arrival of Alexa is another stepping stone to the new self-service digital lifestyle. If you haven’t experienced Alexa yet, you will find her inside several Alexa-enabled products by Amazon.
The Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap are devices with speakers and microphones for a two-way dialogue. Alexa comes pre-installed with a few basic skills, but you can add skills from her growing repertoire. You do that by downloading the Alexa app on your smartphone. You then enable skills listed on the app that you want her to have.
Once enabled, the new real estate skill can be accessed by saying: “Alexa, open real estate.” Alexa will then ask if you want to buy, sell, or rent.
If you say you want to buy a home, Alexa will ask you what your minimum and maximum price points are, whether you are pre-approved, and where you’d like to buy a home.
If you say you are selling, you will be asked the address of the home along with your phone number and a request to have a Better Homes and Gardens representative contact you.
If you are looking for a rental, there will be questions about the minimum and maximum rent, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the location.
Using your answers for buying and renting, Alexa will search for listings and read you the top three. She will then send you an email with links to all the listings.
The app is still new and doesn’t have data for many cities yet but those are supposed to be coming soon. The Alexa real estate skill was developed by a father and son team out of Albany, New York — so it will have listings for Albany.
According to their website Voiceter Pro, the project began when Ami Berger asked his dad Miguel to buy him an Amazon Echo. Ami then developed the app in exchange for the device.
But Alexa isn’t the only one getting into real estate. She’s what you might call a “voicebot”. There are also “chatbots” on the horizon. They are apps that provide an exchange of information through chat forums.
A company called Structurely is promising one soon called Holmes. That’s with an “L” like Sherlock Holmes. It’s designed for real estate agents as a way to increase their marketing ROI.
It works by interacting intelligently with clients, asking questions and gathering information from the answers. The company says it can be customized to work on a variety of chat platforms like Facebook Messenger, SMS text and WeChat.
It’s expected to gather and synthesize in-depth information about a client’s needs. The company says it will process information about a buyers interests and behaviors and recommend homes based on those criteria. For sellers, it will provide predictive information about things like the length of time it will take to sell a home at a particular price point.
The company that is developing the software for Structurely says the chatbot has two software pieces that will set it apart from the rest. There’s the bot called “Holmes” and a back-end called “HomeChat”. The HomeChat part of the software will give real estate agents access to the chat, and allow them to take over the chat by muting the Holmes chatbot.
It’s only in the testing phase right now, but Structurely hopes to launch a public beta version of HomeChat and Holmes by this spring. And it appears that the software will get a lot of exposure. The developer’s website says it will be given to more than 100,000 real estate professional across the U.S.
The chatbot itself isn’t expected to provide a great deal of benefit to real estate agents — but they say it will help turn the HomeChat into a powerful tool. The chatbot itself will be able to gather information, analyze the conversation and notify the agent of a potential transaction. It will also be able to give clients relevant suggestions and market data.
It has already gotten rave reviews at the Inman Connect Conference in San Francisco last year. The developers say it received “very positive feedback from attendees. It also won an Inman Innovator Award.
If you are up on chatbots, you may already be using them. There are thousands available on Facebook. You can find them from a “botlist” and add them to your Facebook messenger service.
We just added a chat feature on our new website. It’s very cool, check it out! The difference is that we have live humans on the other end. Maybe someday we’ll have a few bots, just not yet. 🙂
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