Generative AI took the world by storm in the past year. Even in our real estate industry—traditionally one not too quick to embrace new technology—it is impossible to ignore the rising use of AI applications in how properties are bought and sold. Real estate agents have plenty of reasons to embrace AI, but mainly, it makes more time available for agents to focus on their core expertise, which is finding the right buyer or seller for their client based on a holistic understanding of their needs.
Not a day passes when we do not hear about new generative AI developments by Open AI, Google, or any of the myriads of other players in the market. How can, among all that noise, agents possibly keep informed? In what follows, we list six ways agents can find either training or more information.
#1 External Training
Many generative AI-related training sessions are available for agents eager to learn. Training sessions provided by trade organizations such as the NAR are always a good bet. Still, when looking for sessions provided by commercial third-party vendors, it is recommended to vet the offering carefully (by researching reviews, asking peers about their experience with a vendor, etc.).
Colleges and universities are beginning to offer online and in-person classes on generative AI. There are also opportunities to learn with the different respective associations. For example, I noticed that agricultural, apartment owners, property managers, and even Future farmers of America provide training opportunities to their members.
#2 Internal Training
Agents of a brokerage firm will often have an opportunity to partake in internal training sessions on various marketing topics. More and more real estate firms are adding generative AI to the topics they cover in agent training sessions. Internal training is free and originates from a trusted source, so agents should look into this.
In addition, generative AI tools use machine learning to enable agents to build courses customized to the brokerage’s needs. Once an understanding of the concepts is embraced, nothing stops a brokerage from using the AI prompts to construct real estate courses for the brokerage. For example, a brokerage may provide AI with its current process and procedures, have AI format it, and develop instructional content based on the demographics of the brokerage (i.e., age, location, language, asset class, etc.)
#3 Follow the Leader
Several so-called “AI thought leaders” are prolific content writers and lecturers on AI. It is straightforward (and free) to keep tabs on what experts such as Marian Croak, Maurice Conti, and Mike DelPrete have to say on generative AI. No counsel from thought leaders should be copied uncritically; agents should instead pick and choose the most useful to them in their context.
With that being said, one promising idea can change your life. So keep an ear open and listen. Some experts have spent much of their lives creating a body of knowledge. Start by setting up Google Alert around keywords like “generative ai,” “proptech,” and “ai for real estate.” Pay attention to those who have bright ideas. Pay attention to the comments of their followers. All in all, start to pay more attention.
#4 (Reverse) Mentoring
Some brokerages have mentoring programs where people with less experience in a critical work area can learn from more experienced people. In the case of using (AI and other) technology, the mentee is often older than the mentor, a reason why such programs are called reverse mentoring. If your company does not have a mentoring program, there is no reason why agents would not be able to set up a mentoring relationship themselves. Every agent will know someone in their social network who could teach them something about generative AI.
#5 Trade Media
Real estate trade media spend plenty of time covering the growing importance of generative AI in real estate marketing. These media publish interviews with experts, discuss product launches, and offer short, easy-to-digest how-to articles on various AI-related topics. Agents who check in weekly with crucial trade media will have a solid view of what is new.
Conferences and workshops, whether industry bodies or commercial providers organize them, offer plenty of opportunities for agents to inform themselves about the latest developments in generative AI. Of course, before spending money, it is recommended (just as with training sessions) to vet providers carefully.
One of the highest-rated conferences for 2024 is the World Summit AI Americas, which is returning to Montréal on April 24 & 25, 2024, heralding the convergence of global AI leaders ranging from big tech, startups, academia, and government.
In the next few years, Generative AI will continue to impact how agents market their properties and organize their work. There are many ways real estate agents can keep abreast of the latest developments in generative AI. Agents with the pulse of the latest developments in this domain are poised to have a critical advantage over colleagues less versed in AI.