Key Highlights

  • Agents/brokers can delegate listings tours and client questions to AI bionic robots
  • Robots equipped to provide virtual reality tours, capture 360-degree videos, tenant screenings, portals for rent payments, lockboxes for on-demand property viewings and drone-based imaging
  • Chatbots also making headway into real estate process

2017 was a pivotal year for AI bionic robots. That was the year robots began making their way into the real estate world. 2018 was the year when chatbots, or bots, made their real estate debut. Then came March 2020 and the COVID pandemic…robots and bots are now showing homes and answering home-related questions across the US.

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Eric Holly, the chief executive of Zenplace, said that in 2017, the creation year of Zenny (a three foot tall remote-controlled robot that is essentially an iPad attached to a wheeled base that greets prospective buyers at the front door and shows them the house),“Real estate was old school, a lot of pen and paper, shaking hands, a lot of face-to-face.”

Today, Zenny has grown up into a full suite of rental management offerings including tenant screening, on-demand viewings and a lockbox portal for rental payments. (Such a lockbox portal for rental payments is an “amenity” found to be +40% more effective in procuring on-time monthly payments than “in-person or mail-in” rent checks.

VirtualATP robots capture 360-degree home tour videos. REX is a full-service, digital brokerage that relies on AI robotic kiosks along with natural language processing. Rex also focuses on drone-based imaging and 3-D models of each house in order to provide customized information.

Cost structures for all robots mentioned in this piece vary widely from flat fees to monthly charges to percentages of the home’s sale price.

Robots may be ideal for rentals and property management since agents/brokers make no commissions on rentals but for purchases, Kelli Miller, a broker associate with Compass Real Estate in Cardiff, CA, said, “Part of finding an ideal home means having your needs understood, and requires building a relationship between a buyer and an agent. A robot may be convenient and efficient, but it can’t do that.”

Chatbots, or bots, may be a digital growth product for and with sales agents as they are able to ”explore” dozens of real estate databases in seconds to pull up targeted information about costs, square footage, amenities such as window direction for sunlight and proximity to public transportation. Bots can also be AI trained to “sound” more human and empathetic. Users of the bot Luke created by RealFriend compare “talking” to Luke as being similar to texting a person.

RealFriend’s chief technology officer and co-founder Omni Klinger said, “We’re not replacing agents. We’re letting them do what they are best at…” handle the transaction after Luke does the screening.


Thanks to The New York Times.

Also read: Malls Becoming Homes for Older, Upscale Americans, Future Implications of Working from Anywhere (WFA), Defining Elements of Mortgage Forbearance – Part I

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