Chatbot News, Emerging Technology

Using Real Estate Chatbots to Help You Find the Perfect Apartment

Real estate chatbots have impacted the ways of purchasing and leasing property in a more convenient and simple way. Instead of reaching out to an agent, you can now address your questions and concerns virtually through chatbots.

By Adi Gaskell
October 13, 2020

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on large swaths of modern life, but few sectors have been as affected as the real estate market. Indeed, recent data from Red Flag highlighted the real estate sector as one of the worst affected by the pandemic, in terms of the number of insolvencies.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, the nationwide house price index recorded the largest decline in prices for 11 years during the summer, with the decline attributed to the extreme and uncommon nature of the economic downturn.

The pandemic has meant that many physical property visits have been canceled. And, while it's common for many new-build apartments to be snapped up without such a visit, such an approach has become increasingly common on the second-hand market too. With realtors utilizing virtual viewing technology to give prospective buyers an opportunity to look around from the comfort of their living room, this opens the door for many real estate professionals to keep up with their sales.

Indeed, some realtors have reported a spike in activity as the lockdown period has given people more time to search for properties from home. What's more, this approach has been increasingly popular for overseas buyers too.

The perfect apartment

Helping the market to find their perfect home has recently become a space that an Israeli start-up is aiming to get into. Luke is a chatbot that is powered by AI and that aims to match up buyers and renters with their ideal home.

The start-up has been developed by experienced chatbot entrepreneurs Omri Klinger and Hadar Landau, who met in the Israeli military and who have been working together for over a decade. The idea for Luke was born when they were looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv and realized that a conversational interface would be a valuable aid in finding the best place for them.

"We have had an obsession for bots and conversational interfaces for a few years. We saw the broken experience of broken decision trees and knew we could do it better," Klinger told me. "At the same time, I was looking for an apartment in New York City, and my partner, Hadar Landau, was looking for an apartment in Tel Aviv. We experienced firsthand how frustrating the process of looking for an apartment can be and felt that a bot is exactly what the real estate field needs."

Luke's journey actually began with the release of a Hebrew version, called Dooron, in 2018 to support real estate searchers in Tel Aviv. The entrepreneurs believe that the similarities in the real estate market between New York and Tel Aviv made the Big Apple a natural next step.

Hybrid technology

Luke operates using hybrid technology, so if it is asked a question that it doesn't have the answer to, it refers the question to one of the human experts on staff. This answer is then categorized, tagged, and fed back into the system so that Luke is better able to answer such questions in the future.

The company believes that the chatbot will be hugely popular, not least because it will be capable of answering questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The vast knowledge base underpinning the platform also means that it is highly likely to have the answers required to field any question posed to it by prospective buyers and renters.

The early signs are certainly promising, with the platform already generating a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 65. The team suggests this is because of the friendly and conversational nature of Luke, which allows users to talk about their property needs just as they would to a friend.

"We plan to expand to other cities in the US in early 2021. We are aiming for cities that have a large population of early adopters that will trust a bot to make a very important decision in their lives," Klinger told me. "Luke gets better and smarter the more people talk to him and share their needs and wishes."

The pandemic has shown the clear potential for digital tools to make a huge impact on industries that had previously appeared impervious to the advances of modern technology. It has provided the “burning platform” that is so often needed for widespread change to occur, and the change has been extremely rapid. The team behind Luke doesn’t intend for it to replace brokers entirely but rather to make their jobs easier. Indeed, ultimately, the realtors themselves are likely to be working with chatbot systems like Luke.

It’s obviously hard to tell just how the real estate market will respond once COVID has passed, but the early signs from the customer response to are that chatbot-style services are due to remain in the sector and will prove to be an enduring addition to the way we search for property.