What happens when AI enters the rental market?

How artificial intelligence is taking the stress and guesswork out of renting.
10 October 2019

AI is making things easier for renters and landlords alike. Source: Shutterstock

Before the internet, newspapers were the main resource for us to find jobs, advertise old cars for sale or even post about missing pets. Now in the 21st century, there is an app for almost anything you can think of, though an industry like real estate is still growing in its presence in the digital world.

Matt Reilly, Director of Growth at RadPad remarked on the need for more real estate agencies to go digital by stating, “more than 90 percent of people looking for their next living situation are searching online first and more than 60 percent are looking on mobile.” Clearly, there is a gap between a more tech-savvy generation searching for homes and real estate agencies operating by traditional means.

By realizing the potential artificial intelligence (AI) has in bridging this gap, real estate startups such as Oliver and RadPad in the US launched platforms to connect property owners with suitable renters. Similarly, in the UK, SpareRoom and Roomgo are catering to a large market of renters (students and professionals) seeking accommodation in major cities like London, Bristol, and Manchester.

The role of AI in streamlining the apartment hunt and rent process

For renters, apartment hunting is as real as seeking shelter in the concrete jungle, initiating contact with agents, arranging scheduled views, settling on the terms and conditions, and finally getting the keys to the apartment; the journey does not end until boxes of belongings are emptied.

An AI-powered system can streamline the nitty-gritty of real estate by first helping renters refine their search of listings. Algorithms can show more suitable listings based on filters such as location, price, size as well as input from keyword search— as well as previous properties they have shown interest or arranged to visit.

AI can filter through pages of listings and present only the most relevant results, bringing renters a click closer to their ideal homes. It can also help to gather insights from external sources on market trends and competitors, displaying results that are on par with going rates, or more expensive.

Besides more cutting-edge search engines, 24/7 customer support is possible with chatbots. A more economical option, chatbots can assist home seekers in their quest after regular work hours or a Sunday afternoon.

Some bots with advanced machine learning are able to provide recommendations based on the requirements of renters— another possible venture for the future of real estate.

Next, with tech-driven platforms available online and accessible to anyone with a decent internet connection, renters and property owners can connect directly, taking the process of rental agreements into their own hands. Both parties can negotiate and arrange appointments directly without the mediation of a third party. In this regard, the ‘real estate agent’ is very much an artificial one with a much lower commission.

Equally important, property owners can rely on AI for additional support in the listing. The term ‘expanding intelligence’ refers to AI evaluating the real estate market, inevitably helping landlords make better decisions.

For example, landlords can adjust property price according to the neighborhood and market value. With real-time insights, landlords can stay updated with the current market and cater its listing for a certain demographic they aim for. Moreover, gathered data allows property owners to get to know prospective renters such as who is likely to fail credit checks before making a decision.

In the end, the real estate process can be simplified with the help of AI. With a growing presence of AI in the hotel industry, from matching holiday goers with an ideal accommodation, to personalized services, the same can be done for renters in search of a place to call home.