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Virtual estate agents – What will they look like?

David AndersonDavid Anderson is a real solicitor writing about a virtual world.

Virtual tours of properties and virtual estate agents have been with us for some time. Artificial Intelligence software is about to take it further. Your virtual tour will be accompanied by a virtual estate agent whom you can interact with. You can ask questions which the virtual estate agent will be able to answer.

The big question is what will the virtual estate agent look like in order to optimise sales?

What kind of seller?

The seller will have to approve the virtual video and see the virtual estate agent and agree the replies to be given using artificial intelligence. The estate agency will need to take more care with the replies as these will be on record. There will need to be some form of disclaimer of liability for misrepresentation. For lower value properties there will usually only is one kind of virtual estate agent. For higher value properties you may have several different virtual estate agents depending on how you think sellers will react.

What kind of buyers?

The kind of buyer should be profiled so that you can put the kind of virtual estate agent in the virtual tour. Knowing more about the buyer earlier on will become even more important. Normally people want to deal with people from a similar social and economic background. So for wealthy older buyers you may favour a mature well-spoken woman dressed in a “classic” way. For wealthy younger buyers a younger man dressed casually but with fashionable branding may be best. For younger first time buyers a young person smartly dressed may be best.

It is possible for buyers to choose the virtual estate agent using the software in the same way they choose a voice on their satnav. This is the easiest solution but may not give the best sales results. In specialist markets foreign languages will be used.

It may be that a cartoon type character will be the best kind of virtual agent. This could lead quickly to an iconic cartoon character defining the estate agency.

Link to real estate agency

The real estate agent whom the buyer subsequently deals with to conclude the sale needs to be a continuity from the virtual agent the buyer has been dealing with to date.

The same values will need to be carried forward which will be a challenge for the estate agency in successfully transitioning the buyer and completing the sale.

Getting information

The virtual agent will be programmed to ask questions of the buyer to ascertain what they will pay and their prospects as a client. Replies can be checked instantly against computerised databases to see whether the buyer is telling the truth. For instance if the buyer gives their address and says they are a first time buyer the virtual agent will know instantly by checking the Land Registry database whether this is correct. Equally credit scoring can be done as the visit is going on.

A whole new world is opening up with new ways of selling! This is just the beginning.

June 2018
David Anderson
Solicitor-Advocate and Chartered Tax Adviser