AI Leasing Assistants in 2022: Lead Generation For Real Estate Agents Made Easy
Lead generation in real estate is in a near-constant state of flux. As trends and tactics come and go, agents need to make sure they are constantly adapting to new methods or risk losing out on valuable business. As a result, lead generation can be a tough nut to crack, both for new real estate agents and for top performers who have been in the game for a long time.
New technologies are constantly emerging, with more platforms and solutions flooding the real estate market daily. While real estate has traditionally been an industry that is slower to adapt to emerging technologies, the pandemic served as a catalyst to drive digital transformation. Thanks to mandated stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines, tools like virtual tours and web-based contracts have become the norm. Now, as the severity of the pandemic wanes, the digital innovation that was brought about by force is here to stay, particularly when it comes to lead generation.
What is an AI leasing assistant and how does it work?
The advent of AI-powered technologies, in particular, has driven some of the more successful innovations in real estate in recent years. In the era of instant gratification, prospects and residents crave instant responses and swift resolution to their queries. This is where AI leasing assistants come in. Think of them as AI-powered coworkers, with the ability to interact with prospective and current clients, answer queries, schedule tours, and research the market for upcoming trends. All of this can be done around the clock, meaning missed opportunities are a thing of the past. Given their powerful capabilities, it’s easy to see why these tools are revolutionizing the world of lead generation and customer interaction.
AI leasing assistants that are built with highly advanced technology take these capabilities even further. Using natural language processing, advanced AI leasing assistants can understand the intent of a prospect or resident’s question, regardless of how it is phrased, and respond in a way that closely mimics human conversation. This method provides a seamless customer experience that outperforms intent-based approaches, which tend to break down if the question doesn’t match up perfectly with what the bot is programmed with.
Intent-Based Platforms vs. Adaptive Communications
Traditional intent-based platforms work by detecting the meaning that the user is trying to convey. However, while they can provide the correct response, these platforms require thousands of inputs to produce a simple output in the form of a generic, canned response. This lack of personalization ultimately leads to a poor user experience.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have adaptive communications. Rather than relying on specific inputs, an adaptive communications platform (ACP) processes language, whether verbal or written, in real-time and generates tailored human-like responses. An ACP can also handle more complex queries as it is constantly learning and improving its understanding of human language. As a result, the language-based interfaces that make up these platforms can keep up with ever-changing content, datasets, and customer demands.
Adaptive communications represent the next frontier in making conversational AI as human as possible. With a language-based approach, an ACP uses computational linguistics and natural language understanding to essentially teach the AI the English language without the need to train it, program intents, or provide context, ensuring quick deployment and endless scalability for real estate businesses. This also allows prospective real estate customers to engage with the AI-powered virtual assistant in their own words, through text or voice, leading to a smooth and frustration-free experience.
The Risk of Not Adopting AI Leasing Assistants
Consumer behavior has dramatically evolved in recent years, with this shift extending to virtually every industry, real estate included. Whereas once upon a time, prospective renters would pay you a visit in person to learn about potential properties, today, the discovery process is almost entirely-self driven. Prospects will search online, often months in advance, shortlist the properties they're interested in, and then inquire further for more details. At this critical juncture, they will contact the leasing department with the expectation of receiving information such as pricing and availability right away.
But, what happens if a prospect reaches out during off-hours, on weekends, or if the line is busy? The call is missed, and there goes your valuable opportunity. Enter the AI leasing assistant, that steps in to handle calls when agents are unavilable. In fact, data indicates that almost half of calls placed to leasing offices are missed, and only 13% of prospective residents will actually leave a voicemail.
With an AI-powered voice assistant, real estate teams can capture leads they may not even be aware that they are missing and provide the following advantages:
AI leasing assistants provide the ability to supercharge on-site teams with lead management at scale by handling conversations with leads on behalf of the leasing team without the need for a single new hire. Advanced AI voice bots include the ability to answer incoming leasing calls and converse with callers using natural language to record user preferences, check availability and prices, collect user details, and schedule a tour of the property.
Another upside is that an AI leasing assistant never gets tired or has a bad day; it works tirelessly to generate leads 24/7. In addition to generating new business, an AI leasing assistant can also pre-qualify leads for agents by asking questions about budget, desired move-in date, and other key considerations, to help determine which prospects are ready to lease and which ones require some more nurturing. This frees up the on-site team to focus on what they are best at: providing superior experiences for the people in front of them and serving high-value leads that are ready to sign.
Avoiding Phone Calls
Consumers nowadays typically don't want to speak to a salesperson until they've done some preliminary research and narrowed down their options. Then and only then are they comfortable enough to reach out to a real person. An AI Leasing Assistant bridges that gap by providing immediate help without the pressure of a sales pitch while establishing rapport until the prospect is ready to chat or meet in person.
- How long will it take me to get to work?
- What are the monthly expenses for utilities and maintenance?
- Is there a gym in the building?
- What type of apartments are available?
- Is the building pet-friendly?
These are just some of the questions potential tenants may have about a property they are interested in. While it’s critical that these prospects get answers, it’s not strictly necessary to have a highly skilled agent be the one to respond. In fact, AI-powered chatbots that are designed to interpret text from a prospective resident can respond to about 95% of questions, with round-the-clock accessibility.
The Benefits of AI Leasing Assistants for Real Estate Companies
With powerful features that help leasing agents excel in their roles, AI leasing assistants are poised to become an indispensable resource for lead generation in 2022 and beyond.
Your potential customers are looking for rental units online 24/7, but, understandably, most real estate agents only work during business hours. This leaves a lot of potential leads—and business—on the table. An AI leasing assistant can help close more deals by being available to answer questions and provide information about units any day and at any time.
It's no secret that the real estate industry has a high employee turnover rate, often due to agents moving to other companies or leaving the industry altogether. And while this isn't a problem exclusive to real estate, particularly in the midst of the so-called “great resignation”, it can be particularly costly for businesses in this industry. In fact, replacing an employee can cost up to $10,000, and this figure doesn’t take into account the loss of productivity that comes with having an empty desk or the loss of knowledge when a seasoned employee leaves.
AI leasing assistants help reduce turnover and boost retention by taking on repetitive and rote tasks that often lead to employee dissatisfaction. By leaving the busywork to the AI, highly skilled agents are free to focus on tasks that actually require their expertise, leading to higher levels of satisfaction and your staff actually sticking around.
The long-term savings associated with AI leasing assistants are impressive. Not only do they reduce the cost of hiring and training a new employee, but there is also no need for retraining in the future. Moreover, AI leasing assistants are up to date on all the latest changes in the industry and can provide customer service 24/7.
In addition to long-term savings, AI leasing assistants can also help save costs in the short term. They don't require sick leave or vacation days and their cost of maintenance is significantly lower than the salary of full-time employees.
The Future of Real Estate is Digital
Real estate lead generation has fundamentally changed. In this new reality, where every aspect of the leasing process, from showing a property to signing a contract is digital, lead generation tactics must evolve accordingly.
By generating and pre-qualifying leads, and ensuring that there is a personalized and knowledgeable response ready for customers 24/7, AI leasing assistants are an indispensable tool in helping real estate businesses sign more leases. Moreover, adaptive communications technology is constantly evolving, meaning it has the potential to become even more effective at lead generation over time. As a result, real estate businesses that don’t adopt AI leasing assistants will surely find themselves at a disadvantage and behind their competitors.
Having a strong lead generation strategy is the backbone of any successful leasing agent and, consequently, any top real estate company. With a strong strategy in place, real estate companies can ensure they are allocating time and money to attract the right audience and avoid spending resources on the wrong prospects. In addition, a tailored lead generation plan allows firms to refine their overall marketing efforts, to make sure their messaging and offerings resonate with prospects and create better relationships. After all, isn’t that what real estate is all about?