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Chatbots (and AI) — and Winning the Consumer

bots-aiThere’s a lot of talk about AI and bots. Much of it centered around increased conversion and acquisition.

Cool tech for the sake of tech is great.

But that doesn’t make it a business, nor does it make it a product consumers want (or need) to use.

What problem is AI/bot X solving for buyers and sellers? Is the solution/experience 10x as good as the present one?

It seems focusing on segments of the real estate industry where frequency of transactions are much, much higher — investing, rentals, home builders, etc — would be a smart approach.

Timing is part of this; bots and AI will impact the consumer residential sales segment in a massive way.

I’m just not sure we’re there yet.

When there is a massive consumer win — we’ll know bots/AI have arrived.

Some additional writings by others:

(please, please email me at drew at geekestatelabs dot com with compelling products — I’m trying to get my head around where AI/bots/VR are headed).

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • I tested some and they could never answer any simple questions.

    I would not put it on my site because it says to my leads you are not important enough for us to personally answer your questions so I provided this chatbot which unfortunately won’t answer any of your questions but will ask you questions.

    Then the lead simply would go to a competitor that cares and answers their questions.

    The worst case is if they think they are chatting with a real person, which could happen. Now they feel you are not only not answering their question, but you are rude for totally ignoring it.

  • Sep Niakan

    I am diving into this stuff myself and also trying to figure out the benefit for the consumers. Here are my thoughts: 1. The person needs to know they are talking to the bot, and the first question should be if they want to talk to X person so they always feel they have that option (and if that person isn’t available then it can get their contact info and promise a timely return call). “Hey, I am Betty the Miami Condo Bot, here for your convenience if you want a quick answer. Do you want to BUY, SELL or TALK TO SEP? 2. For lower end high volume things like you mentioned, like rentals, I think it is very useful, as it is expensive to talk to every single renter about their every single whim and make any money. And rental transactions are very . . . transactional . . . and renters aren’t too emotional about the process (at least not as emotional as buyers and sellers) 3. If it’s midnight, good luck getting hold of an agent but an intelligent bot AI (intelligent artificial intelligence? one day!) can at least get some form of conversation started.

    I do agree with Bryn that if the bot can’t veer off standard answers or questions and handle them respectably well, then, yes, it will be a massive source of frustration. Maybe when the bot runs into trouble, it can just be brutally honest: “Hey, listen, I am dumb bot doing my best. But your question is too slick for me. Sorry. I have texted and emailed Sep, and he will get back to you as soon as possible. Or you can try to rephrase the question for simple old me?”

    • “Hey, listen, I am dumb bot doing my best. But your question is too slick for me. Sorry. I have texted and emailed Sep, and he will get back to you as soon as possible. Or you can try to rephrase the question for simple old me?”

      haha, so awesome. I’d love to see something like this used. I literally asked Alexa this morning whether she was stupid, and got a response of “I’m still learning”.

      • Sep Niakan

        I have to tell Alexa to “shut up” a few times a week when she thinks I am talking to her when I am not. 🙂

  • Nate Joens

    We’ve been heads down in this space, and I’d agree that bots fit well in areas of highly frequent occurrences. This is what led us to build a bot that is focused on doing one thing and one thing only: find public record info, taxes and transactions on any property in the US. It alleviates the need to find this info on an assessor site, while being available enough for agents who need to lookup this info multiple times a day.

    This is a bot that’s not directly addressing the problems of buyers and sellers, but it’s intended to learn how humans interact with a machine to inquiry about properties. To date, we have about 130 trained intents that range from “tell me a joke” to “who owned this property last” but even this seemingly simplistic bot learns how to say a new intent each day.

    It’s still a very early space, and the companies that will strive in the space will do so with massive amount of highly accurate and tuned training data.

    (Give the public records bot a try at

    • Hi Nate, that bot worked well, but I am left wondering what the advantages are to a bot like this vs. a web form that asks the same question?

      By the way, your link above includes the ) which has to be removed for it to work.

      Today is going to be my first day testing sending Facebook ad clicks to messenger vs. directly to my website so I might need some type of messenger bot at some point if this concept works.

    • Have you run into privacy issues with exposing owner names? I just typed the address of a place I used to rent, and figured out who owns it. I know that’s public record info, but making it so easy to figure out who owns what is still a big privacy issue for many.

      • Hi Drew, in my experience as long as you can’t search by name it is OK.

        I put tax data on my website one time and forgot that Google would index the owner’s name. What happened is you could then put a name into Google and immediately see where that person lived.

        That was a big mistake as I got a call from a judge who said his safety and that of the police could be in jeopardy because of this.

        I instantly removed it and learned my lesson on that one.

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