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How AI Could Change Home Buying 2021

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Key Takeaways

A new AI feature in Zillow's mobile app generates complete floor plans based on photos in a listing. Experts say Zillow's AI feature will significantly help home buyers in the search process. While AI is a helpful tool, experts say it should still be used along with the help of an actual real estate agent, since they have the best expertise in the industry. Westend61 / Getty Images

Zillow's latest home app feature proves that artificial intelligence is very much the future of home buying, experts say. 

The app now features an AI-generated floor plan on any home you're looking at to predict room dimensions, square footage, and the location of the listing photos relative to others.

Real estate experts say AI technology will become more prevalent in the design and home shopping experience as an additional tool to help consumers find their dream homes. 

"AI is the algorithm that's going to hopefully help improve [the search experience] by pulling in more data sets and trying to narrow down what exactly it is you're looking for," Jeff Lobb, the founder and CEO of SparkTank Media, told Ach5 over the phone. 

Zillow's Take On AI

The feature is part of the Zillow app's 3D home tour that allows prospective home buyers to virtually see what a home looks like without stepping foot inside it. 

By using a 360-degree camera and then applying computer vision and machine learning models to generate a 3D Home tour and interactive floor plan, Zillow says buyers can get a much more accurate sense of a home's flow and interior space.  

"We are redefining the virtual tour experience by using AI to break down the barriers between listing media—like photos and virtual tours—and listing data, such as square footage and room dimensions," said Josh Weisberg, vice president of Zillow's rich media experience team, in the company's announcement. 

"This new integrated experience will help shoppers better understand the relationship between still photos and the layout of the house, provide a better sense of the space and home features, and improve the overall shopping experience," Weisberg added. 

Zillow

Real estate experts say Zillow's AI app is a smart addition in helping home buyers with their initial searches. 

"I think any AI feature that [Zillow] adds to their platform is just going to help the consumer search experience whittle down to less clicks and start to deliver more relevant information, which is the beauty of AI," Lobb said. 

Lobb also said Zillow could use AI to help make its home evaluation tool more accurate. It's a tool that he said is almost always inaccurate, though people often take those value estimates to heart.

AI Uses In Real Estate

Lobb said AI already has begun to integrate itself into the real estate industry, whether it's an app that can tell you how much sunlight a specific home gets or projections of both residential and commercial growth or downturn. 

"AI makes it easier for both agents and the home buyers," Lobb said. "It's becoming an assistant in a lot of the tedious tasks that filter information." 

For example, Lobb said AI could help deliver a better search experience by tracking a consumer's habits and likes, For instance, if someone clicks on all of the kitchens in homes, they could be directed to homes with better kitchens. 

AI also could help collect paperwork between real estate agents and loan officers, or provide more accurate financial information, such as cost savings in energy and fees.

"AI is the algorithm that's going to hopefully help...by pulling in more data sets and trying to narrow down what exactly it is you're looking for."

However, Lobb cautions that while AI is a helpful tool, it should still be used in conjunction with real estate agents. 

"I am always pro real estate agent because AI is good at aggregating the data, but the real estate agents will have the skill to also be able to evaluate the exact market conditions, why that location is better than others, improvements that have been done inside the home, etc., that computers can't see," he said. 

Lobb said that many consumers believe AI to be 100% accurate and show only facts, but that home buyers should always take AI data with a grain of salt. 

"AI is definitely getting better, but anything it delivers as far as pricing or values, it's giving you a range, and that range needs to be vetted with a professional," he said.