How ChatGPT could change commercial real estate
“Everybody can be a super broker”
Filippo Incorvaia doesn’t know much about poultry. He’s a real estate broker, not a farmer.
To help a commercial client identify a possible warehouse distribution center, he would have to do hours of research on the poultry industry. But with the emergence of AI chatbot ChatGPT, the Miami-based Incorvaia says he can find what he needs to know within five minutes.
“That’s how I optimize my service and then take my expertise, take the knowledge that I have about this client or this customer and provide the best result,” said Incorvaia, CEO of FI Real Estate Brokerage. “That’s what makes you a super broker, and with ChatGPT, ultimately everybody can be a super broker.”
Stories of such epiphanies are beginning to make the rounds in commercial real estate. Brokers are turning to the bot developed by artificial intelligence firm OpenAI to assist with everyday tasks. The free technology produces conversational answers to inquiries rather than responding to questions and scraping the internet for search results.
Gparency’s Ira Zlotowitz said that the bot will ultimately close the knowledge gap among brokers and further emphasize the importance of personal connections.
“ChatGPT is the brain in the room,” Zlotowitz said. “The only thing left is relationships. There’s no more knowledge needed because basically you could feed it your business.”
Zlotowitz said that he is in the process of incorporating ChatGPT into Gparency. The goal is to provide customers with information such as property listings and bank lenders without having to call someone.
“Where I think it’s changing the business is there’s no such thing as an off-market deal that no one knew,” Zlotowitz said. “Everyone’s gonna know everything.”
Olive Tree Ventures’ Jeremy Kaner said that he is seeing exciting technology in multifamily, a market that Olive Tree has invested in across the Midwest and Sun Belt.
“Everything from leasing chatbots to materials procurement, we’ve started to see this flow of technology, not to come in to fully replace employees, but just to make employees more efficient,” Kaner said. “We’re really on the precipice of seeing this revolutionizing real estate.”
However, ChatGPT is disconnected from the internet, which limits its knowledge of current events, and is frequently unavailable because too many people are on it. The bot reportedly had 1 million users in its first week. OpenAI has started piloting a paid version called ChatGPT Professional.
“When it gets plugged back in (to the internet) and gets all that data and all that knowledge that it learned from humankind, it will be really interesting to see how it evolves,” Incorvaia said. “It’s really remarkable.”
It’s unclear how widely the technology has permeated commercial real estate. Some firms, such as Savills and Marcus & Millichap, told The Real Deal they aren’t using it yet. CBRE declined to say whether it was using the chatbot for services. Other brokerages did not comment.
Everyone’s gonna know everything.
Current Real Estate Advisors’ Adam Henick said that neither his firm nor his clients have regularly employed ChatGPT, but he acknowledged that it is likely going to play a role in the future.
“I like to think that there are enough intricacies and unique things on everything that we deal with on a day-to-day basis that we’re not being replaced by robots just yet,” Henick said. “But there’s certainly a world for us to coexist at some point, so I am looking forward to understanding the technology more and seeing what it’s capable of and how it could benefit our business.”
Whether or not ChatGPT will lead to job cuts is the elephant in the room, but a common sentiment is that it will assist rather than replace real estate professionals. However, as attrition occurs, some tasks will be automated, said Olive Tree’s Ian Bel.
“Certainly over time … there will be job elimination, but I don’t think it’s as horrible as a lot of people fear,” said Bel, whose firm is experimenting with ChatGPT. “It’s more about helping to make people really good at what they do and really focusing on the most impactful human judgment they can bring.”
Most observers agree that ChatGPT’s proliferation in commercial real estate is inevitable.
“The thing we can’t stop is technology,” Incorvaia said. “The genie is out of the bottle.”