5 Ways Conversational AI is Redefining the Home Buying Experience
For many people, purchasing a home is one of the most taxing things they will ever do. In fact, according to an enlightening survey by Homes.com, around 40% of Americans say that buying a home is the most stressful event in modern life, with 44% reporting feeling anxious throughout the entirety of the home-buying process, and a disheartening 33% even revealing being reduced to tears as a result.
But why is buying a house so stressful? There are many factors at play.
Firstly, a home is likely the most expensive purchase someone will make in their lifetime, adding a significant amount of pressure to make the right choice. It’s also a lengthy process, averaging around six months for most buyers — that’s half a year of unanticipated sustained pressure. In fact, the same aforementioned Homes.com survey found that 38% of homebuyers said the process took much longer than they expected. Finally, many buyers cite the following three reasons as additional stressors:
- Cost: After the purchase is complete, many buyers feel that they overpaid or got a bad deal.
- Confidence: The process is often complex and confusing, particularly for first-time buyers. As a result, many prospective buyers lack confidence while looking for their new homes.
- Disappointment: Many potential homebuyers feel deeply upset if they fail to secure their purchase or if the the sale falls through.
Is there a way to reduce this stress or possibly even eliminate it altogether? The answer lies in leveraging cutting-edge conversational AI technology to transform the home buying process by promoting effective communication and ensuring necessary information is always available.
Let's take a look at some of the top use cases for conversational AI in the real estate industry.
The Top 5 Use Cases for Conversational AI in the Real Estate Industry
1. Scheduling Property Viewings
After a potential buyer finds a property that they like online comes a crucial step: scheduling an appointment to view it.
However, this process is often not as straightforward and seamless as it should be, as many real estate websites require potential buyers to submit their details and wait for a phone call from an agent.
What's wrong with this, you ask? According to the Real Estate Trainer, a resource for realtors, agents should strive to respond to all customer inquiries within five minutes. Beyond that, the chances of landing a new client plummet. Speed is the name of the game here, as, according to a study by Lead Connect, 78% of customers will buy from the company that responds to their inquiry first.
Oftentimes, there is a delay between a prospect submitting their details online and receiving the follow-up call. And what happens if the potential buyer misses that call and can't get back to the agent right away? The result is an unnecessary back-and-forth and a lot of time wasted. Additionally, the prospect may be interested in several properties and may have more success scheduling an appointment with another agent at a different company, resulting in a missed opportunity.
With a conversational AI platform, scheduling appointments can be completely automated, removing the headache of the back and forth between the agent and the prospect. The potential buyer can simply chat with a virtual assistant that will guide them through the necessary questions to book the appointment. Since the AI-powered chatbot has access to the real estate agent's calendar other required data channels such as when the property is available for viewings, there's no need for any human intervention. This means that agents can dedicate their time and energy where it has the most impact rather than being bogged down with administrative tasks.
Some of the benefits of using a conversational AI system to schedule property viewings include:
- Saving time: The system is available 24/7, so the prospective buyer can schedule an appointment whenever they want, even if it is during off-hours or on weekends.
- No missed opportunities: There's no delay between the potential buyer seeing a property they like online and actually scheduling an appointment.
- Added value: The conversational AI system can propose a virtual property showing if one is available for the property of interest. This is especially helpful in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and can also ensure that those who physically visit the property in-person are interested and motivated to purchase.
2. Offering 24/7 Availability
Let this sink in: over 50% of customers expect a business to be available 24/7.
We live in an “always on” world where nothing (at least online) ever stops. Whereas this expectation used to be somewhat unrealistic, it is the reality we live in today, and many businesses are ensuring they have the technology required to ensure they are always available.
Real estate professionals are human being who have lives outside of work, and require breaks, sleep, and the occasional well-deserved vacation. In other words, they cannot be available 24/7. With a conversational AI platform, real estate agents can ensure they never miss a potential lead when they're away from the office. The virtual assistant can ask and answer questions, gather lead qualifying information, schedule appointments, and share more details about a property during on and off hours.
One of the major advantages of utilizing conversational AI is that potential buyers don't have to wait for a response. Several studies have shown that the longer a customer waits for a response, the more frustrated they become, something that is further exacerbated further in real estate, where the home-buying process is already so lengthy and depends on a steady stream of open communication. Real estate companies can set themselves apart by closing this communication gap with an AI-powered chatbot.
3. Answering FAQs
One area where chatbots have a significant impact is in answering common questions — and doing it quickly.
The home buying process can be convoluted and confusing, so it's hardly surprising that potential buyers have many questions. However, real estate agents often find themselves repeatedly answering similar questions for many clients. While humans are quite adept at answering questions, they can’t search the web for answers nearly as fast as an AI chatbot can.
When speaking with Multi-Housing, Sarah Yaussi, Vice president of Business Strategy for the National Multifamily Housing Council, said:
“Pre-chatbot, (prospects) would email or call, and a lot of times they would go unanswered because leasing agents are often overburdened. So, the idea of having at least a simple level of engagement to answer frequently asked questions is hugely helpful.”
With sophisticated capabilities like natural language understanding, an advanced conversational AI platform can become highly adept at answering commonly asked questions. An AI-powered virtual assistant can be fed FAQs and historical data to fully understand the kinds of questions potential buyers typically have. It then knows where to find the answers and can instanteously provide a response.
If a customer is looking for a specific property, conversational AI platforms have the capability to sift through tons of data and recommend the right suggestions to a customer, as an AI-powered chatbot that is linked to a real estate firm’s database can quickly extract properties that align with the customer’s needs. Beyond that, the best AI chatbot tools can automatically follow up with customers via email or SMS, providing them with further details and reminding them of their scheduled property tours.
4. Lead Qualification and Routing
What real estate agent wouldn’t want to qualify leads in their sleep?
We've already established that potential buyers crave immediate answers to their home-buying questions. But, with the vast amount of tasks agents have to juggle as part of their roles, this isn't always feasible, nor is it the best use of their time. After all, not all visitors are serious about purchasing a property. At the same time, agents can’t afford to ignore questions from potential buyers because, in real estate, every lead matters.
A conversational AI platform provides the best solution to this problem. Since agents can only so many leads at any given time, it’s most effective for them to direct their energy at high-intent leads. As a 24/7 virtual assistant, a conversational AI platform can qualify leads by asking vital questions, and nurture these relationships with interactive conversational touchpoints.
Advanced AI-powered chatbots can simultaneously handle an unlimited volume of leads, ensuring no opportunities are missed and then direct highly interested leads to an agent to take over where the virtual assistant left off. For colder leads, the system can automatically push them to the back of the agent’s queue or even serve those leads on the spot, ensuring team members are focused on serious prospects with high ROI potential.
By allowing agents to focus on highly qualified leads, conversational AI platforms also have the power to speed up the entire home buying or renting process. For example, apartment management company Morgan Properties found that leads sign a lease faster when a chatbot is involved. Their data shows that when leads call or email, it takes around 30 to 45 days to complete on a lease. However, when the lead engages with a virtual assistant, they typically convert within just 13 days.
It’s natural to be concerned that customer service done by an AI-powered chatbot may come across as cold and, well, robotic. In reality, the opposite is true, as conversational AI platforms are designed to be customized. The best AI chatbot tools can be trained based on the behavioral patterns of customers, leading to meaningful, personalized interactions that add value.
Conversational AI platforms include functionality that can study the unique needs of each one of your customers and, through powerful algorithms, strike the right chord with each individual. For example, suppose a prospective buyer or renter is searching for a waterfront property with heritage charm. An AI-powered chatbot can gather information from the prospective buyer by asking pinpointed questions and then recommend properties that fit the bill.
When combined with AI-powered insights, personalization provides customers with the optimal experience, leading to higher conversions as well as cross-selling and up-selling opportunities. Analyzing prospect behavior using intent analysis and natural language processing can further improve customization capabilities.
Real Estate’s Digital Transformation
Driven by the proliferation of AI technology, digital transformation continues to revolutionize how business is conducted in every industry — real estate included.
The rise of AI in real estate has the potential to help business owners bring in more sales among a changing demographic of prospective customers. Today’s customer craves less hassle and less human interaction in their real estate purchases, and much of this is due to the habits of millennials and Gen Z, who, as of 2019, make up almost half (44%) of all American property buyers.
As technology continues to transform engagement between companies and their customers, conversational AI is poised to become the norm. For organizations that are looking to outpace their competitors and meet consumers where they are, now is the ideal time to invest in a conversational AI platform tailored to the unique requirements of the real estate industry.