For busy real estate agents and brokers, showings can sometimes overlap, forcing them to seek out a teammate or other colleague to pinch hit for them.
Zenplace, a rental management company based in San Francisco, has developed an alternative. Clients can use a code from an app to unlock the door and be greeted immediately by a robot. Agents and brokers handling rentals may find this to be a helpful addition to their tech lineup.
The robot, really a moveable video monitor, is the brainchild of Zenplace, and expanding quickly across the nation. According to a CNBC report, the company developed the software itself, which doesn’t look like a classic robot, although it does have a face: the real face of the rental agent. According to Rahul Mewawalla, CEO of Zenplace, it’s a roving screen showing a live person in another location.
“Robots are part of our end-to-end solutions. What our robots really do is reduce the leasing period and cut down vacancy times for owners. Tenants can now literally go from seeing a place they like to renting it out in a matter of minutes versus the days and weeks it traditionally took.”
The initial use has been for rentals, but it can be applied across the real estate spectrum. An agent or broker can talk to a client through the screen and can also move the device throughout the home. In addition to the live agent, the robot can provide real-time data about the neighborhood, amenities, and rental trends, such as pricing. It also has a lease application, so the renter can apply on the spot.
According to Mewawalla, the robot is the next step in real estate management technology, and an initial response to an increasingly competitive and fast-moving rental market.
The robot may seem like a gimmick at first, but it does give potential renters much more flexibility. They can walk into a home they may have been just walking by — which raises a question about security, which can be an issue in owner-occupied properties.
Zenplace does have a security protocol. In order to gain access, the potential renter must first text the number on the sign and send an ID picture. Zenplace then does a quick “background check” (they wouldn’t say exactly what type), and if the person is accepted, they are sent a unique code that unlocks the key box on the front door.
All of that then activates the robot inside.
Zenplace currently operates the robots in its California properties but expects to expand to five other states, including New York and Florida, next year.