Last modified on December 5th, 2019
By Megan Eales Monroe
Thanks to recent innovations and breakthroughs in technology, the future of work in every industry is changing.
Self-driving cars may soon be safer and more cost-effective than human truck drivers, algorithms can arrive at a patient diagnosis more quickly than a human doctor, and AI-powered financial advisors can even optimize your personal investment and tax strategy for impressive returns.
As machines learn to perform many of the routine tasks that used to be carried out by human employees, the modern workforce of every industry, including real estate, must adapt.
The Rise of Machine-Driven Workflows: Threat, or Opportunity?
Although some fear that the rise of AI and automated technologies will lead to job loss, the reality is that these breakthroughs actually have the potential to create many new jobs, make the work that humans do more meaningful, reduce stress, and boost job performance. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI will produce more jobs than it displaces.
According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, progress in AI and automation technology will create valuable new opportunities for businesses, the economy, and society — to the tune of an additional $5.8 trillion in annual value across sectors.
For real estate in particular, this new technology will transform the way that work is done, offering significant benefits for both companies and individual workers.
But in order for this new technology to yield its maximum benefit to businesses, individuals, and society at large, the human workforce will need to learn new ways of working alongside it. The integration of human creativity, empathy, and intelligence alongside the efficiency and scalability made possible by advancements in computing will lead to far greater value and productivity than either humans or machines can achieve by working in isolation.
Let’s take a deeper look at how AI, algorithms, and automation will change the real estate and property management workplace for good.
Creating a More Efficient Leasing Process Powered by AI
Recently, big breakthroughs in neural network technology (also called deep learning) have made it possible for computer software systems to learn how to solve problems and make decisions.
By giving a computer millions of examples of real-world situations, the computer can learn what rules to follow when handling similar situations, even ones that the computer has never seen before. This process is known as machine learning, and the decision system that it creates is known as AI, or artificial intelligence.
An example of how AI can be deployed for major benefits in property management is in leasing.
AppFolio’s AI Leasing Assistant, Lisa, is a conversational AI that automatically engages with every inbound lead to pre-qualify, book showings, and answer questions. Unlike a simple chatbot, since Lisa is powered by AI she continually learns how to improve her responses to questions to maximize conversions and fill vacancies with quality renters more efficiently.
Lisa changes the way that your team works, by working alongside leasing agents 24/7 to provide a consistently stellar experience for prospective renters and book more showings.
A study of companies already using Lisa showed that a 2 minute response time leads to 81% more showings than a a 30 minute response time.
Although fast replies are important, they can be a strain on your team, and it’s difficult to ensure a quick reply on nights, weekends, or holidays.
AI technology can take the burden of instant follow-up off of your team so that they can prioritize the meaningful work of relationship building that they excel at.
For example, when Cambridge Management Group implemented an AI Leasing Assistant to follow up with prospective renters, they not only a boost in team morale, but also freed up time to build real relationships with prospective renters. Check out this video to see how they did it:
By handling the initial response, following up with contacts, and automatically scheduling showings, AI allows human leasing agents to build relationships with prospective residents, create a personal experience, and focus on getting leases signed. It’s a win for the agent, your organization, and the future resident.
As an added benefit, by reducing the stress for your team caused by frequent and disruptive calls around the clock, you may see lower staff turnover rates in the long run.
Leveraging Powerful Algorithms to Maximize Revenue
Leasing is only one example of how AI and automation will impact the way work is done in your real estate or property management business.
Another great example is automated revenue management driven by a powerful rent pricing algorithm, which allows you to optimize revenue for your business and stay competitive in your market.
Such an algorithm can factor in data about comparable properties in your region, as well as leasing performance data for the unit, to automatically recommend the perfect price. It can account for historical leasing traffic and vacancies, the unit’s leasing performance compared to other available units, the price of comparable properties in your market, and even a prospective renter’s desired move-in date. Based on all of these data points, the technology can make a pricing recommendation to maximize your revenue.
By making the most of algorithms designed to optimize your rental income, teams responsible for revenue management can maximize their performance while reducing the burden of manual calculations and analysis, allowing them to move faster and achieve better results.
Automating Routine Processes to Boost Team Performance
Finally, advancements in automation can improve your team’s performance by guiding them through standardized processes quickly and efficiently.
Modern software can streamline your team’s work by creating customized workflows to automate your business’ processes. For example, many standardized leasing, maintenance, or even accounting processes can be performed by software with minimal inputs from your team. The system makes sure they are performed in the right order, at the right times, and that all the most important steps are completed during each phase.
This frees up your team to focus on amazing customer experiences, and also makes it easier to train employees and onboard new properties.
With automated workflows that result in more consistent output, you can also gather performance data more effectively, by implementing changes and optimizations across your business in minutes.
In addition to preventing errors, improving consistency, and enabling more precise measurement and optimization, automation can also make work more meaningful for members of your team. By reducing the amount of time needed to perform routine and repetitive tasks, it clears up time for your team members to contribute in higher capacities.
According to Parna Sarkar-Basu in a recent Forbes article, “by automating the more mundane, repetitive or back-breaking tasks, more jobs can focus on higher-level skills that involve innovation, creativity, empathy, complex decision processes or teamwork.”
Whether that looks like more personalized customer service, strategic contributions that will guide the future of your business, or time invested in improving your processes, the people on your team each have something unique to contribute. By freeing up their time with automation, they will be able to prioritize their strengths.
In each of these three areas, it’s clear that these new forms of technology are not something to be feared, but instead, to be embraced. Companies in the real estate space who capitalize on these advancements will unlock incredible new potential for their people and processes, creating opportunities for higher performance and more fulfilling work.