Can AI serve as a 'great equalizer' in the real estate industry?

Implementing artificial intelligence in real estate can help diversify home ownership, claims Anywhere Real Estate.
Written by Sabrina Ortiz, Editor
Image: Andy Dean Photography/ Shutterstock

Whether it be by telling Alexa to play your favorite song or using face recognition to unlock your phone, artificial intelligence is making your life easier on a daily basis. As more industries continue to undergo digital transformation, AI continues to optimize how many different industries conduct their businesses— even real estate. Anywhere Real Estate is utilizing AI technology to help diversify home ownership. 

Racial disparities such as structural racism and bias have affected the ability for people of color to own homes in the US for years. An Urban Planet study using 2019 ACS data showed that white homeownership rate is 30 percentage points higher than the Black homeownership rate and higher than any other racial group in the US. 

Anywhere, an American real estate services company that owns major brands in the industry such as CENTURY 21, Coldwell Banker and Sotheby's International Realty, found a way to implement AI into their business model to better connect with customers, remove biases and diversify homeownership. 

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"It is critical to look at data that potentially causes bias in decision making, for example, the type of mobile device a person uses to submit a document as a data point may lead to unintended co-relation on race and social status. This will help improve diversity of homeownership through a machine-driven decision-making process," Damian Ng, Senior Vice President of Technology at Anywhere, tells ZDNET. 

The use of AI to collect data can uncover hidden patterns that negatively impact how people of color buy and sell properties. For example, AI might discover that historically, some agents and brokerages have grown within some city blocks a lot slower than others and prompt a deeper look into whether there is conscious bias in that area, according to Ng. 

A study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that in the house search, minority testers were more likely to be steered towards neighborhoods with lower quality schools, higher rates of assault and pollution exposure than their white counterparts. 

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The implementation of AI would help solve that issue by giving buyers unbiased advice on what the best fit for them truly is. Buyers and sellers can leverage data to get unbiased recommendations on whether their current offers will be accepted and what property is the best fit for them. 

"At the core, AI can help reduce bias and diversify homeownership through neutral, un-emotional, data-driven predictions and actions," says Ng.

In addition to helping customers, AI in real estate allows brokerages and franchises to grow their business by facilitating the recruiting process. AI has been used to predict what agents will achieve the highest future growth over a multi-year span helping agencies recruit employees who will be the best fit for their needs. 

The future of AI in real estate will continue to be a learning and fine-tuning process in order to continue to successfully create more personalized buyer and seller experiences. 

"As real estate and interactions with consumers continue to undergo digital transformation, I expect this area of AI innovation to accelerate, because we'll be better able to understand consumers in a data-centric manner at scale," says Ng. 

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