Artificial intelligence taking a more visible role in homebuying process

A "for sale" sign is posted outside a real estate office in Frisco on March 25.
Photo by. Liz Copan / Studio Copan

Artificial intelligence will play a bigger role in helping consumers buy and sell homes, as it moves from behind the scenes to front and center in a whole range of areas, according to members of a panel at the annual conference of the National Association of Real Estate Editors in Las Vegas.

Zillow, the country’s largest real estate portal, began offering “natural language” searches on its mobile app to bring up more precise results. Rather than setting filters across a limited set of criteria, like the number of bedrooms and ZIP Code, consumers can speak or type what they want.

For example, a consumer could search for a three-bedroom house with a brick exterior built in the 1950s or 1960s with a large backyard near a public park in Denver.

AI will also allow real estate sites to engage with buyers and sellers of homes before they are ready to talk to a broker, answering their questions and boosting their comfort level, said Rob Barber, CEO of ATTOM, which maintains large data sets on real estate markets.

He also sees it being increasingly used to help consumers see what a given room might look like with new furniture or different appliances.

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