The Real Deal Miami

How real estate developers are using artificial intelligence in Miami: eMerge Americas panel

It can even tell you when to push the elevator button, notify the valet for you and order your coffee: Nitin Motwani
By Francisco Alvarado | April 24, 2018 02:30PM

Moderator Melissa Krinzman leads a discussion on big data and artificial intelligence with Miami developers Avra Jain and Nitin Mitwani

UPDATED April 26, 3:15 p.m.: As big data and artificial intelligence keep pushing into the real estate sector, Miami developers say they are beginning to embrace the technology for analyzing acquisition opportunities and potential development deals, as well as uncovering regulatory hurdles and market conditions that could hurt their plans.

Vagabond Group founder Avra Jain recently started using applications developed by Miami-based big data firms Gridics and Deep Blocks for redevelopment projects she is involved in, saying they are bringing efficiency through big data and artificial intelligence. “It is just starting,” Jain said. “I think there is a lot more room for more of it.”

Jain joined Miami Worldcenter Associates principal Nitin Mitwani on Monday for a panel discussion about big data and artificial intelligence, as well as other nascent technologies being used in real estate. The panel was part of the first day’s agenda of the eMerge Americas conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The real estate panel event was led by Irving Padron, license partner and president of Engel & Völkers Miami.

One function that big data firms can streamline for the real estate industry involves the collection of zoning regulations, allowed uses, and infrastructure projects in particular neighborhoods, Jain said.

“Instead of having to dig it up all yourself, now people are starting to pull that stuff together [through big data],” Jain said. “A lot of municipalities need help in terms of urban planning and making themselves available to answer questions for developers and homebuyers. They don’t have the information technology or the funding to do these things. There is opportunity where firms like Gridics are basically becoming the IT departments.”

According to its website, Gridics is a real estate data, analytics and application development company. It develops software that combines real estate and geographic information system data with proprietary modeling, aimed to simplify real estate development and acquisition decisions.

Deep Blocks, which recently relocated from Silicon Valley to Miami, says it is using artificial intelligence to create development analyses within five minutes, as opposed to a drawn-out process that can typically take between three to six weeks and require a handful of market experts to complete.

Mitwani said big data and artificial intelligence can also be used to augment amenities at luxury condo projects like Paramount Miami Worldcenter. For instance, using the technology to anticipate traffic patterns and congestion in downtown Miami would allow condo dwellers to adjust their schedules to make sure they can arrive at a particular destination on time.

“The problem is when you are on your way to a meeting and you are late because there is traffic,” Mitwani said. “Those types of inconveniences can be solved through big data. For example, if my calendar tells me I need to be at eMerge at 9 a.m., it can tell me I need to leave and press the elevator button at 8:17. It orders my coffee and notifies the valet I am in the elevator. By the time I get down,I get my coffee, the valet has my car and I am on my way.”

Over the past year, there has been an emergence of big data and artificial intelligence firms specializing in real estate applications. Ten-X, a firm that has raised $141.8 million and is owned by private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners, created an algorithm that lines ups investors with properties by analyzing investment sales data and picking buildings that matches with their criteria.

Opendoor, a California firm founded in 2014 that has raised $320 million, makes single-family home purchases with the help of machine-learning algorithms that identify investment opportunities and determine the price. OpenDoor then lists those properties for sale online.

And last March online asset manager AlphaFlow developed an automated investment fund for real estate loans that sifts through listing services to find mortgages that can be purchased.