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    The AI revolution in real estate: Transforming estate agents' business practices

    In the dynamic world of real estate, where time is money and information is key, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) is reshaping the landscape of how estate agents conduct business, says Antonie Goosen, principal and founder of Meridian Realty.
    Source: Supplied. Antonie Goosen of Meridian Realty.
    Source: Supplied. Antonie Goosen of Meridian Realty.

    From streamlining customer relationship management (CRM) systems to drastically optimising social-media campaigns to revolutionising property market analysis, AI technologies are offering unprecedented opportunities for efficiency and growth.

    According to Goosen one of the most significant impacts of AI on estate agents' operations lies in the realm of CRM systems.

    “Traditionally, agents have relied on manual methods to manage client data, track interactions, and nurture leads.

    "However, AI-powered CRM platforms are revolutionising these processes by automating mundane tasks and providing insights that enable agents to deliver personalised services more effectively.

    “AI algorithms can analyse vast amounts of data to predict client behaviour, preferences, and trends, allowing agents to tailor their communication and marketing strategies accordingly. For instance, AI can estimate a prospects propensity to buy or sell, suggest relevant properties based on their preferences, and even automate follow-up emails or messages.

    "By leveraging AI-driven CRM systems, estate agents can foster stronger relationships with clients, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty,” says Goosen.

    AI is also transforming the way estate agents evaluate properties and analyse market trends, continues Goosen. “Traditionally, property valuation involved manual comparisons of equivalent properties in the vicinity, a time-consuming process prone to human error.

    "However, AI algorithms can now analyse vast datasets, including property characteristics, historical sales data, market trends, and even neighbourhood dynamics, to provide more accurate and timely valuations.

    “Moreover, AI-powered predictive analytics can forecast future property trends, helping agents anticipate market fluctuations and make informed decisions. By harnessing machine learning algorithms, estate agents can identify emerging investment opportunities, mitigate risks, and optimise pricing strategies to maximise returns for their clients,” says Goosen.

    He says another area where AI is making waves in the real-estate industry is through virtual assistants and chatbots. These AI-powered tools can handle routine inquiries, schedule appointments, and provide valuable information to clients round-the-clock, enhancing customer service and engagement.

    “Virtual assistants equipped with natural language processing (NLP) capabilities can understand and respond to clients' queries in real-time, offering personalised recommendations and guidance throughout the property buying or selling process. Moreover, chatbots integrated into estate agents' websites or social-media platforms can capture leads, qualify prospects, and initiate conversations, freeing up agents' time to focus on high-value tasks,” says Goosen.

    Enhancing profitability and efficiency

    Goosen says in addition to aiding in property transactions, AI is also revolutionising property management practices. “AI-driven predictive analytics can analyse historical data, maintenance records, and tenant behaviour to forecast maintenance needs, optimise rental pricing, and identify potential risks such as overdue payments or lease expirations.

    “By proactively addressing maintenance issues and optimising rental strategies, estate agents can enhance the profitability of investment properties while ensuring tenant satisfaction and retention. Moreover, AI-powered property-management platforms can automate administrative tasks, such as rent collection and lease renewals, streamlining operations, and reducing overhead costs,” says Goosen.

    Goosen says most of the available AI software and platforms seem to focus on CRM. “The Virtual Agent (TVA), Propcon, Property Funnels and Meridian Connect are all examples of South African based CRM systems that utilise AI to enhance their CRM and lead-generation solutions designed for real-estate professionals.

    "Its predictive analytics capabilities help agents identify and prioritise leads, improve conversion rates, and streamline marketing efforts,” says Goosen.

    Diverse AI applications

    He says other software platforms like Loom is working towards using AI and machine-learning algorithms to provide real-time property value estimations and predictive analytics for real-estate professionals.

    Its platform helps agents accurately assess property values, identify market trends, and make data-driven decisions. “Then there is Amplifi. It uses AI to optimise social-media campaigns by continuously and quickly improving a campaign while it’s running – allowing the content, budget, and audiences to evolve in real time, ensuring the campaign generates the most leads possible.” says Goosen.

    Goosen says many AI platforms will not be exclusively focused on real estate but will offer AI-powered automation tools that can integrate with various real-estate software platforms.

    “A good example will be Zapier. Real-estate professionals can use Zapier to automate repetitive tasks, streamline workflows, and enhance productivity,” says Goosen.

    “It's also interesting to look at local real-estate companies in South Africa that develop their own in-house AI driven technology, like Meridian Realty with its Meridian Connect system. Such companies may offer similar AI-powered solutions tailored to the specific needs of the local market,” says Goosen.

    Goosen says as AI continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, estate agents who embrace these technologies will gain a competitive edge, driving greater productivity, profitability, and customer satisfaction.

    “By leveraging AI-powered tools and platforms, estate agents can unlock new opportunities for growth and cement their position as trusted advisors in an increasingly digital world,” concludes Goosen

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