AI – Estate Agency’s Biggest Threat or Greatest Opportunity?

It’s made some copywriters cry (not us, I hasten to add).

It’s been described as the game-changer of all game-changers (God, I hate that phrase).

It’s backed by some of the richest tech gurus and companies on planet Earth.

But it can’t tell you who won the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

And it thinks Boris Johnson (perish the thought) is still prime minister.

What am I talking about? It’s AI – Artificial Intelligence.

And one of its latest incarnations, ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer), is very, very, very smart. But it ain’t perfect.

A lot of people in the content and copywriting world froze in terror when they first had a play around with it.

Why? Because it can do the things that a basic-level content writer can do FAR more quickly.

As with anything new, it can be seen as an opportunity or a threat.

The following italicised paragraph is AI-generated copy based on this request: “Will AI pose a threat to estate agents?”

AI has the potential to pose a threat to estate agents by automating certain tasks that are currently performed by humans.

For example, AI-powered chatbots can handle initial inquiries and provide property information to potential buyers, reducing the need for human agents to handle these interactions.

Additionally, AI algorithms can analyze large amounts of data and make recommendations to buyers and sellers, potentially reducing the need for human agents to provide market insights.

However, it is important to note that AI is also likely to augment the work of estate agents, by providing them with new tools and insights to help them better serve their clients.

That last line – ‘AI is your friend, it won’t hurt humans’ – crops up in lots of requests around AI. I wonder why the robot lords seem so keen to play down the possible negative consequences for humanity?

It’s currently free as they basically suck up all the data you put into it.

ChatGPT’s website spells out some of its limitations, these include:

  • May occasionally generate incorrect information
  • May occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content
  • Limited knowledge of world and events after 2021 (ah, so that’s why they didn’t know about Lionel’s success and Boris’s failure).

In fairness, it’s only going to get better. So let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly of estate agency AI (we’ve focused on marketing and copy for the purposes of this article).

The Good – Four things it can do for agents and their marketing:

It can write run-of-the-mill blog articles if you are very specific about what you want and have the time to edit them.

It can quickly help you generate ideas for future marketing campaigns.

It can create generic responses and letters.

With quite a lot of work, it can create the framework for property listings.

The Bad – What it can’t do for estate agents and their marketing:

It can’t offer your agency area exclusivity on any content it creates.

Google sees it as spam as it’s AI generated (so I’m told by techie people).

It can’t write with human warmth and wit (in the tests we’ve done, the ‘humour’ and terminology is very American). It’s a bit vanilla.

It’s only as good as the questions and direction you provide it to create copy.

And as of January 2023, it can’t do topical/news-based copy.

The Ugly – Why it could be bad for estate agents, writers and humanity:

It’ll probably put inexperienced or average writers and creators out of a job, especially if they aren’t offering some layer of brand protection through area exclusivity or higher levels of craft.

It’s a copyright minefield and no one knows where that might lead.

It’s likely to make most agents who rely on it too much sound very, very similar.

It can make people lazy and reduce their ability to think critically and be creative.

My take on it

I was asked if it was a threat to our business.

I don’t think so and I’ll explain why I think it creates opportunities.

To get something decent from AI, you need to know the right questions to ask and even then, be prepared to spend time proofing and editing it. Our content is a very quick edit option.

The Estate Agent Content Club is about more than just the articles. It’s about community, connection and consultancy, and we offer exclusive area licences for our members.

We also have a team of experienced journalists writing our content, with articles often based on expert interviews addressing topical items and news. Content coverage includes things like key market stats, changes to Stamp Duty, along with political and financial news.

I can see how articles being automated by AI will be attractive to agencies who are looking for the cheapest option no matter what. This is not, and has never been, our market.

Human made

I can also see a movement emerging where responses and content created by humans will be flagged up as ‘made by humans for humans’.

I’d like to see an open-source branding of human-made marketing (and beyond) similar to that of Fairtrade, Green Dot sustainability and B Corp. I’d love to chat with any branding experts who feel the same.

Ultimately, I think the best agencies will recognise that many of their potential clients will want to know it’s a human answering their questions or giving advice based on real insight and experience.

It’s useful if used right and ethically.

We will all need to evolve as AI evolves.

What worked a year ago might not cut it in 2024.

At the EACC, we’re making a list of all the tasks within our business that can be automated and done by AI.

This will free up more time to create even better human-inspired content that causes inferiority and low self-esteem in these glorified Metal Mickeys and R2D2s and allow us to offer more creativity, consultancy and support to our members.

And finally, I’ll leave you with some wisdom from the legend, Bob Marley.

“Have no fear for atomic energy, ‘cause none of dem can stop the time.”

Thanks for reading.