We’re On The Cusp Of Something Big: Zillow’s Samuelson On AI


While who’s responsible for the absence of a true end-to-end remains up for debate, four real estate and proptech executives found common ground on the fact that AI is “what’s next” for the industry at Inman Connect New York.

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Even a collection of some of the industry’s more notable technology minds couldn’t agree on what’s keeping the end-to-end software solution from becoming reality.

What the panel could agree on at Inman Connect New York was that it when comes down to the local, every-day agent — one side thinks they’re the key, the other thinks they may be its hindrance, either way, it remains elusive.

Moderator Cleila Peters of Era Ventures had the challenge of keeping the crew on topic, which consisted of Omer Granot of Localize, Grier Allen of Inside Real Estate, Nick Bailey of RE/MAX and Errol Samuelson of Zillow.

The impact of AI, however, all could agree on.

“I think we’re on the cusp of something big,” Samuelson said. “Tech takes a very long time to gestate, and I think in the next three years you’re going to see two things: the integration of technology point solutions that don’t necessarily talk to one another or share data, and the second thing is the sort of cyborg super powers that helps accelerate you’re doing.”

Allen said that the industry needs to remember that for now ChatGPT and other consumer AI platforms are on public datasets.

“It’s the internet,” he said. “But when all of your data is out of the silos and connect in a way where you can tie your website traffic to your leads, to your clients, to the transactions and even your financial data, that’s where you can really answer the questions around ROI.”

Bailey connected with the audience on his take that a lot of buyers have trouble envisioning themselves in a home, a concept the staging industry would no-doubt support.

“I remember going to a house once where the walls were purple and the people said, ‘We can’t buy this house,’ so their closing gift was two cans of white paint,” Bailey said. “But the one I tool I think is super neat is one in which you can take photos from a listing site, and you can choose, ‘I want the Mediterranean look or the contemporary’ and the room changes visually in front of you. That to me is an application that is going to be real world, it won’t be a big bang, but it will be integrated into our business.”

Still, as many have said this week, including Granot, is that technology, and especially AI, should not be pursued without purpose.

“Too many people are chasing features when they should be after solutions,” he said. “I think reimagining how properties might look or recommending to the agent what to do and what needs to sell are features, but the industry’s biggest problem is one of scale, you can be exceptionally good for very few people or mediocre for many.”

New solutions allow a business to significantly expand, according to Granot, by allowing leaders to focus on what’s in front of them while an AI tackles nurture campaigns, lead qualification and other critical but automation-ready business functions.

Ultimately, when it comes to what’s next, it’s going to be about integration. Whether its’ end-to-end or not, systems have to talk to one another, the panel concurred.

Bailey said the fragmented nature of brokerages and agents using multiple systems to coordinate with multiple parties across an array of business processes creates an awkward, “really painful” customer experience.

“The agent and the customer have to always know where they stand,” he said.

Email Craig Rowe


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