Is artificial intelligence overhyped in real estate?

Real estate tech panelists don’t see their applications replacing brokers
By Francisco Alvarado | April 16, 2019 01:41PM

From left: Ken Silberling, Paul Cohen, Joshua Young, and Jason Doyle

A suite of new software applications will ease the leg work of tracking down the next big real estate play, but technological advances still can’t replicate a broker’s human touch.

“At the end of the day, the big national players are calling you guys,” Jason Doyle, CEO of zoning software developer Gridics, said to a group of commercial brokers, lenders and other real estate executives at a CCIM luncheon on Friday. “Brokers are not going away anytime soon,” Doyle added.

Doyle was part of a panel discussion that included Paul Cohen, regional director of commercial real estate technology platform Crexi; Joshua Young, CEO of the web-based commercial mortgage lending marketplace Raisal; and Ken Silberling, regional senior vice president for online real estate marketplace TrussThe Real Deal’s associate web editor Katherine Kallergis moderated the panel, held at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Coral Gables.

Still, there is a plethora of new applications that brokers can use to track down important information on properties. For instance, Cohen said, mobile technology start-up LandGlide uses satellite mapping, GPS tracking and cell data to search parcel records in real time. By hovering over a property on the map, a user can pull up the address, the owner, sale price and the building description.

In the world of financial underwriting, blockchain technology is going to cut down the time used to gather information from a buyer, according to Young. “It will accelerate the underwriting process,” he said. “It will help record titles.”

The panelists downplayed the hype surrounding artificial intelligence in real estate. “AI is becoming one of the most overused words in the industry,” Doyle said. “We are not using AI. Once we put in the top 250 cities we are running models on those parcels and storing it. We are working on algorithmic type stuff.”

Cohen also said Crexi is not utilizing artificial intelligence for its applications, but instead is using machine learning. “If there is a buyer in Miami looking for an office building, it recognizes if the buyer is also considering other Florida markets.”