Whenever the conversation turns to jobs and automation, it is usually met with some degree of trepidation, especially by employees: how do I know it’s not my job that will be lost in this ever-developing economic transition towards efficiency?
There is no occupation in the world that doesn’t function without some sort of level of mundanity and administration. These jobs, tasks, or ‘parts of a job’, may not be the most flashy, but without them, the ‘fun’ parts of a job usually can’t get done.
Like most industries, the real estate and property market is not exempt from the creep of automation. As the University of Adelaide’s 2018 submission paper to the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers points out, automation of work has been an ongoing process since the 1800s, and while it may have replaced some jobs, if planned for appropriately, it has created far more.
If we accept that some parts of work will become automated, the paper argues that this will not only “deliver improvements in sales and efficiency, and result in new jobs and new roles within companies”, but also create new opportunities and roles for existing workers through upskilling, re-skilling and education.
For real estate agents, there are undoubtedly some aspects of their jobs that AI can do much faster, and better. Human error accounts for a substantial number of issues, and a machine, unlike human agents, does not get tired and overlook key details.
Similarly, a machine doesn’t sleep, meaning it can help people 24/7 via live chatbot functions, as well as prepare and examine the myriad of documents related to transactions, and translate data in these documents into usable information.
However, if you’re an agent whose job primarily revolves around obtaining property information, monitoring market conditions or trends, and preparing sales, contracts, financial documents, reports, budgets forms, or applications, you’ll need to expect a shift in your day-to-day tasks in the coming years.
As co-founder and CEO of US real estate startup TopHap, Anton Danilovich argues in his Forbes article, the property industry, like many others, has experienced technological shifts over the last few decades. “Twenty years ago,” he writes, “a real estate agent took clients around to show them properties they had never seen before … in the year 2020, not only can a buyer see all sides of the house, yard, and neighborhood online, they can tap and zoom into any room they’d like and even plan”.
He points out that unless real estate agents begin to provide more than “just a real estate license”, instead focusing on a strong brand that conveys knowledge, expertise, and invaluable intangibles, they may see themselves being chased out of the industry.
Luxe Listings, the newest hit reality TV show about luxury real estate in Sydney, has demonstrated that good agents provide value far beyond the bureaucracy of renting and buying a property. While the show predictably glosses over the routine tasks that make up most of an agent’s life, it nonetheless manages to convey the power of human interaction, relationships, and orientation when it comes to dealing with clients.
As one of the show’s stars, principal of Laing & Simmons, D’Leanne Lewis points out that a good real estate agent requires empathy, authenticity, and gumption, characteristics that are not yet found in machines.
Similarly, Danilovich ultimately urges agents to see AI as an opportunity, and not a competitor. Yes, people looking to move out can log online and find all sorts of properties on websites such as Domain or RealEstate.com.au, but it’s the human agents that can lead negotiations, point out a property’s potential, and have access to sector-specific intel and properties off-market.
Learning to understand and read the data generated by AI, such as property characteristics that have the highest impact on current and future value, historical and predictive growth analysis of streets within neighborhoods and specific properties, a quick snapshot of attributes from school ratings to noise pollution, points of interest and much more, can only make an agent more powerful.
Moving houses is one of the most nerve-racking events in a person’s life, and a skillful, knowledgeable, and emphatic agent can make something already so hard much more simple. On the flipside, platforms like Sorted Services have grown to become a necessity for modern agents and renters alike, as it helps to streamline administrative processes, making the move stress-free.
As with all new things in life, it helps to have an open mind. Yes, in the short term some tasks may become redundant, but often, these are the ones that many of us are glad to be rid of. With more free time on their hands, agents will have the liberty to focus on tasks that are more people-centered, creative, and overall enjoyable.
Eric Yilmaz is the CTO at Sorted Services