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AI could bring buyers closer to the process of finding a home

Technology will "reinforce" the physical process, says a B.C. real estate agent.
Horne describes the process of buying a home as "emotional."

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and technology in real estate could have the power to bring homebuyers closer to the physical and emotional process of purchasing a home, according to those who spoke to Glacier Media. 

The impact of AI tools and resources on the real estate industry feels similar to the introduction of the internet, said Michael Thorne, a Langley-based real estate agent. 

“The internet had a huge impact on the real estate industry, but it was a social change. It was a cultural change that we saw, it wasn't specific to the real estate industry and I think AI is going to be that way as well,” he said. 

“But when technology gets to be so good that it makes it harder to discern the difference between something that's real and tangible, and when something that's presented to be something that it might not be, it will only reinforce that physical connection with the property.” 

From virtual staging and viewing to the potential for AI tools that will analyze real estate contracts or MLS data, the opportunities for innovation in real estate are endless, according to Trevor Koot, CEO of the British Columbia Real Estate Association. The impact of these new resources will be seen in the way that buyers interact with the home purchasing process, he said.  

Koot believes there will be an increase in “on the ground, interactive” tools that both consumers and real estate agents will experience throughout home buying. He described the potential for 3D modelling cameras that analyze energy efficiency in a home and whether there are cracks on windowsills. 

“Technological advances aren’t going to take away the opportunity for human interaction and the need for humans within a space. All it's done is shifted where the human beings are interacting with those processes,” he said. 

In addition, AI and tech have the power to enhance it, according to Thorne, who works alongside Jorda Maisey and Trisha Bongers at Re/Max LifeStyles Realty. 

“Real estate's a very emotional process,” he said. “Most people purchase a home after a second visit. So we're just finding that the first visit is now happening in a digital way. But it's imperative that that experience when you get to the property reflects honestly what the property is actually like, because the last thing we want to do is for the potential purchaser to feel like there's a lack of transparency or lack of honesty in the way that you're presenting it.” 

One of the emerging trends out of the COVID-19 pandemic is virtual staging, according to JD Lloyd, business development manager at Bella Staging. 

Virtual staging is the process of taking photos of vacant units and using photo-shop and 3D modelling to add furniture and any other additions you would see in conventional staging, he said. 

“With virtual staging, the client already has an idea of what the best layout is and what the unit can look like with furniture. So when they go in to view the unit, because they already have a preset idea of what it looks like staged, it's up to them to use their imagination of what they would prefer, with their own furniture, using the same layout that we've already provided for them,” Lloyd said. 

He believes that AI will have the power to enhance virtual staging, but that it is not advanced enough to compete with the individuals who create the virtually staged photos.