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Will Artificial Intelligence replace Estate Agents?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has already permeated various industries, revolutionising the way businesses operate. The subject is rarely out of the news as millions of us the world over grapple to understand what it means for humanity in the years ahead.

The UK property market is no exception to this transformative force. From data analysis and property valuations to virtual viewings and customer service, AI is reshaping the property sector at an unprecedented pace. In this blog, we will explore the influence of AI on the UK property market and the evolving relationship between Proptech and estate agents in the future.

The impact of AI on the UK property market

AI in data analysis and property valuations

With its ability to process vast amounts of data, AI analyses trends, patterns and historical data to provide more accurate property valuations. By incorporating machine learning algorithms, AI platforms can evaluate a range of factors such as property size, location, amenities and local market conditions. This results in more precise property valuations, reducing the possibility of over or undervaluing a property. This technology enables buyers and sellers to make informed decisions, leading to more transparent and efficient property transactions.

Virtual viewings and property tours

AI-driven virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies have transformed the property viewing experience in the UK. With virtual viewings, prospective buyers can explore properties remotely for a detailed understanding of the space without physically visiting the location. These advancements are particularly beneficial for international buyers or those with time constraints. AI-driven virtual staging also enables empty properties to be digitally furnished, making them more attractive and appealing to potential buyers.

AI-powered customer service – good or not so good?

Chatbots and virtual assistants have become increasingly popular in the property market, they can provide a useful service enhancing customer experience. However, they can also prove somewhat frustrating! We’ve all used a chat-bot that doesn’t quite understand you or can’t make a human decision like re-scheduling an urgent appointment or provide a quick answer like “is the oven gas or electric”. These small points might not seem like much, but when requiring the finer detail about a property quickly, then talking to someone in person will only hit the spot.

At Benham & Reeves, we are definitely embracing the AI charge positively. Our primary website uses AI to provide up-to-the-minute price trend checks, school data and local area information, all available at the click of a link. This invaluable tool has become a favourite among website visitors and clients alike. You can witness the tangible results of AI on our SOLD page, where accurate data aids buyers and sellers in making informed decisions.

Revolutionising photography and videos

AI is also making waves in the property marketing sector. AI-powered algorithms analyse images and videos to enhance their quality. This technology can adjust lighting, and remove unwanted objects from the visuals. Ensuring property listings are as attractive as they can be is a priority, so these features make property listings more eye-catching and enticing for potential buyers. But, in saying all this, we have found that having someone with a good eye for detail is usually needed to ensure creative context stays within industry compliance. Certainly we wouldn’t want our properties to look fake or filtered in a way that might be misleading.

Having embedded code and watermarked images is another way that enables us to track where our own imagery is appearing, ensuring we keep our intellectual property ours. We’ve been using this tech for quite a few years now but it does need human oversight to keep up with the tracking.

Will AI replace estate agents?

Estate agents have dominated the property sector since their inception witnessing the rise and fall of many marketing strategies and technologies touted as industry disruptors. Indeed we’ve since lots of changes since we were established in 1956.

From no-frills online agents offering a flat fee sale to selling a property on Facebook, none of these have managed to substitute the human touch required in such high-stake deals that involve emotions, negotiations and an understanding of the market that machines cannot fully comprehend.

Technology, with all its superior coding, algorithms and data processing, lacks a unique personality, which is what attracts buyers and sellers. Individuals entering the real estate market are preparing to make significant, potentially life-changing decisions. Consequently, they seek someone they can relate to and feel secure with throughout the process.

A relevant example of the edge that estate agents have over AI is the fact that not all property information is made available in “For Sale” listings. Details like rental history and yield are often missing. At Benham & Reeves, being able to offer “Off-market” properties, which remain highly popular, through recommendations from our experienced negotiators are a key part of our business model, most notably because these types of properties come from recommendation or person-to-person referral. AI does have a part to play in that interested buyers can then access these opportunities through our sign-up function for “off-market” property alerts.

While AI can handle many aspects of the real estate transactional process, there are areas where experienced and personable agents are a necessity. With a growing influx of overseas buyers snapping up London properties for investment rental opportunities, considerations like door numbers that work with feng-shui – an essential consideration for Chinese investors – do require human expertise. Estate agents understand these nuances and can provide personalised guidance which are more highly tailored to individual buyer needs.

The future of real estate in the UK may well be poised for a revolutionary transformation where estate agents embrace AI technology to facilitate property transactions. By leveraging the broad capabilities that artificial intelligence can offer, estate agents will be able to provide a more seamless service making the buying and selling process smoother and quicker.

As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.”

Do get in touch with us to start your London property investment journey.


About the Author

Established in 1958, Benham and Reeves is one of London’s oldest, independently owned property lettings and sales agents.  With specialism in residential sales, corporate lettings and property management in prime areas of London, the company operates from 21 prominently located branches and 14 international offices.