The AI race is on in real estate

Publish Date: June 27, 2023

Written by Brad Inman

- Originally published at Inman News - Brad Inman

Don’t overthink AI, and don’t sleep on it. The potential for problem-solving the world’s most intractable challenges is too great to ignore, writes Inman publisher Brad Inman.

In these times, double down — on your skills, on your knowledge, on you. Join us Aug. 8-10 at Inman Connect Las Vegas to lean into the shift and learn from the best. Get your ticket now for the best price.

The AI race is on. Start your engines.

In the first phase of the real estate internet contest, dozens of companies competed to become the winning team. 

When Zillow acquired Trulia in 2014, the competition was all but over, as company after company wilted, filed for bankruptcy or was acquired.

The electric car industry is experiencing that same predictable innovation cycle today. This week, once red-hot EV truck maker Lordstown Motors filed for bankruptcy. Others have already been towed to the junkyard.

Except Tesla, which is the winner

Traditional car companies are making a go at it, but they are too slow to innovate.

Just as many real estate startups lost to Zillow, so did many legacy companies that didn’t just fail to innovate, but fought innovation at every turn.

But this is the dawn of a new day with the next chapter of technology innovation rapidly unfolding, one centered around artificial intelligence.

No industry is more suited to be jolted by this breakthrough than real estate.

AI will reinvent home search, reimagine industry productivity tools, replace many agent duties and speed up digitization of the entire process of buying and selling a house.

And that is just the beginning. Our imaginations aren’t big enough to see what is coming.

We have yet to see which companies might lead the way. Breakaway technologies enable a new cast of characters with company names that we’ve never heard of because they are being invented in dorm rooms in the local Starbucks and in spare bedrooms.

I was recently sitting in a Soho House club in Paris 

I overheard three eager entrepreneurs huddled around their computers, talking about how their new AI product would reform the home improvement industry, which France desperately needs.

“Nous allons révolutionner la maison,” declared a confident, 20-something, sandy-haired and bespectacled French woman.

I interrupted and said, “I’m in.”

We all laughed together.

The mood reminded me of San Francisco in 1997.

This is big, and don’t let anyone from the previous chapters of the internet story tell you that they have it all figured out. They haven’t.

The mystery of radical new technologies is that the future is unknown. We figure out what’s next by working together to invent it.

Incumbents don’t have a preordained edge

Zillow has no more of an advantage than RE/MAX did 25 years ago. A swarm of companies are already deploying AI in exciting new ways, just six months after ChatGPT was released into the wild.

Like the internet in 1996, once we saw it, we all went crazy. Internet, internet, internet — that’s all we could jabber about.

Today, it’s AI, AI, AI.

Legacy companies have another shot at getting on the innovation bandwagon, if they can find their advantage. But they must reexamine their business models, invest and think about their role differently than they did in the past. 

Take Inman, too

We led the way on digital-first news coverage, but we cannot sit idle, presuming nothing will change for how we go about giving readers the best information in the future. The potential is endless. 

It is an equal playing field with no supremacy granted to the incumbents.

In fact, startups, like the kids in Paris, are more free to innovate because they are not encumbered by the past.

Plus, existing AI tools that are already in the market wipe out the barriers to entry for budding entrepreneurs.

AI will create new opportunities for everyone — but only the curious and the bold will win.

AI is about efficiency, but much more

By easily and instantly accessing a universe of information, AI makes our lives easier, speeds up discovery and invention and dumps unnecessary bureaucracy. Most importantly, it will help us solve many of the most difficult problems the world faces.

Those who hesitate, overthink or overcomplicate the fundamental benefits will be left behind.

Email Brad Inman

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