We’re On The Cusp Of Something Big: Zillow’s Samuelson On AI

Key Takeaways:

– AI is seen as the next big thing in the real estate industry
– The panel at Inman Connect New York could not agree on what is preventing the development of an end-to-end software solution
– The local, everyday agent is seen as both the key and hindrance to achieving this solution
– The impact of AI is widely agreed upon
– Integration and communication between systems is crucial for the future of the industry
– Technology, including AI, should be pursued with purpose and focus on solutions rather than features
– New solutions utilizing AI can help businesses expand and automate critical functions
– The fragmented nature of brokerages and agents using multiple systems creates a poor customer experience
– Ultimately, integration and communication between systems is necessary for the industry’s future success.


While who’s responsible for the absence of a true end-to-end remains up for debate, four real estate and proptech executives found common ground on the fact that AI is “what’s next” for the industry at Inman Connect New York.

Inman Connect New York is LIVE this week! Experience the pulse of the real estate industry in person or join us from anywhere in the world — the future of real estate is unfolding now. Get your virtual ticket here.

Even a collection of some of the industry’s more notable technology minds couldn’t agree on what’s keeping the end-to-end software solution from becoming reality.

What the panel could agree on at Inman Connect New York was that it when comes down to the local, every-day agent — one side thinks they’re the key, the other thinks they may be its hindrance, either way, it remains elusive.

Moderator Cleila Peters of Era Ventures had the challenge of keeping the crew on topic, which consisted of Omer Granot of Localize, Grier Allen of Inside Real Estate, Nick Bailey of RE/MAX and Errol Samuelson of Zillow.

The impact of AI, however, all could agree on.

“I think we’re on the cusp of something big,” Samuelson said. “Tech takes a very long time to gestate, and I think in the next three years you’re going to see two things: the integration of technology point solutions that don’t necessarily talk to one another or share data, and the second thing is the sort of cyborg super powers that helps accelerate you’re doing.”

Allen said that the industry needs to remember that for now ChatGPT and other consumer AI platforms are on public datasets.

“It’s the internet,” he said. “But when all of your data is out of the silos and connect in a way where you can tie your website traffic to your leads, to your clients, to the transactions and even your financial data, that’s where you can really answer the questions around ROI.”

Bailey connected with the audience on his take that a lot of buyers have trouble envisioning themselves in a home, a concept the staging industry would no-doubt support.

“I remember going to a house once where the walls were purple and the people said, ‘We can’t buy this house,’ so their closing gift was two cans of white paint,” Bailey said. “But the one I tool I think is super neat is one in which you can take photos from a listing site, and you can choose, ‘I want the Mediterranean look or the contemporary’ and the room changes visually in front of you. That to me is an application that is going to be real world, it won’t be a big bang, but it will be integrated into our business.”

Still, as many have said this week, including Granot, is that technology, and especially AI, should not be pursued without purpose.

“Too many people are chasing features when they should be after solutions,” he said. “I think reimagining how properties might look or recommending to the agent what to do and what needs to sell are features, but the industry’s biggest problem is one of scale, you can be exceptionally good for very few people or mediocre for many.”

New solutions allow a business to significantly expand, according to Granot, by allowing leaders to focus on what’s in front of them while an AI tackles nurture campaigns, lead qualification and other critical but automation-ready business functions.

Ultimately, when it comes to what’s next, it’s going to be about integration. Whether its’ end-to-end or not, systems have to talk to one another, the panel concurred.

Bailey said the fragmented nature of brokerages and agents using multiple systems to coordinate with multiple parties across an array of business processes creates an awkward, “really painful” customer experience.

“The agent and the customer have to always know where they stand,” he said.

Email Craig Rowe

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Property Chomp's Take:

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the future of the real estate industry, according to a panel of experts at Inman Connect New York. While there may be disagreements about the reasons behind the absence of a true end-to-end software solution, the panel agreed that AI is the next step for the industry.

Moderated by Cleila Peters of Era Ventures, the panel consisted of Omer Granot of Localize, Grier Allen of Inside Real Estate, Nick Bailey of RE/MAX, and Errol Samuelson of Zillow. They all recognized the impact of AI on the industry and its potential for growth and improvement.

Samuelson expressed his belief that the integration of technology solutions and the development of AI-powered tools will be the next big advancements in the industry. He emphasized that technology takes time to develop, but within the next three years, we will see the integration of various point solutions and the emergence of AI-powered tools that can greatly enhance real estate professionals' capabilities.

Allen highlighted the importance of connecting data from different sources to provide a comprehensive view of the real estate process. He emphasized that when all data is connected and easily accessible, real estate professionals will be able to answer questions about return on investment and make informed decisions.

Bailey focused on the role of AI in helping buyers envision themselves in a home. He mentioned the potential for AI-powered tools that allow buyers to visualize different interior designs and styles, making the home-buying process more engaging and personalized.

Granot emphasized the importance of pursuing technology solutions with a clear purpose. He cautioned against chasing features for the sake of having them and instead encouraged real estate professionals to focus on solutions that address the industry's biggest challenges. Granot highlighted the potential of AI to automate critical business functions, such as nurture campaigns and lead qualification, allowing real estate professionals to focus on what matters most.

Ultimately, the panel agreed that integration is key. Whether it's an end-to-end software solution or various systems working together, real estate professionals need tools that communicate and share data seamlessly. The fragmented nature of the industry, with multiple systems and processes, creates a disjointed experience for agents and customers alike. The panel stressed the importance of having systems that connect and provide a seamless experience for all parties involved.

In conclusion, AI is set to revolutionize the real estate industry. With its potential to integrate various technology solutions, enhance the home-buying experience, and automate critical business functions, AI is the future of real estate. Real estate professionals should embrace AI with purpose and focus on solutions that address the industry's challenges while providing a seamless experience for agents and customers.

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