To Implement AI or Not? That is the Question.

The Pros and cons of implementing AI solutions like ChatGPT into your property management operations

AI is such a hot topic right now across all industries. There’s a lot of curiosity and dread around the possibility of AI stealing human jobs. The application that is currently getting the most attention is ChatGPT, which is an AI chatbot that combines chat with a generative pre-trained transformer. But ChatGPT isn’t the only solution like this on the market. Competing programs like Bard from Google and LLaMA by Meta offer much of the same functionality.

A lot of the attention around ChatGPT is its ability to mimic human conversations, but there are so many tasks it can accomplish beyond that, including mimicking individual writing styles, writing and debugging computer programs, answering questions, and summarizing copy.

There are a few downsides that have been identified, including the program spitting out plausible sounding but incorrect nonsensical answers, but as the program learns over time, these kinks should get worked out.

Despite all of this, AI technologies, most notably, Large Language Models (like ChatGPT) are poised to have a significant impact on the multifamily housing industry that are broad and transformative and will usher in a new era in the industry.

Potential benefits

For anyone that knows anything about how AI works in a business setting, the biggest benefits likely to be achieved are improved efficiencies, especially as they relate to redundant, repeatable tasks. This along with the quality assurance it can provide should make incorporating some sort of AI or automation based on machine learning a top priority for multifamily businesses.

Moving to an AI model that makes those processes you have to complete every day more consistent also lends itself to a centralized model that is more easily managed by one centralized services director as opposed to multiple on site property managers.

The primary focus would be on building and leading a team of remote customer service and recovery representatives that deliver a much higher level than on site teams can deliver because they’re not burdened by being pulled in many different directions to ensure residents' needs are being met. They can focus strictly on completing the task at hand, and doing it much more efficiently because flows are triggered automatically based on behavior.

The key when implementing any new program like this is making sure you have baseline measurements and metrics that you can track again, so you can really see the ROI, time, and cost savings as it occurs in real time. If your standards aren’t being met initially by AI, it’s not time to give up, it's time to reconfigure. Don’t be discouraged. The technology is new and it may take time to fine tune, but at the end of the day it will be worth it in the efficiencies you will gain.

The potential of AI to replace repetitive tasks is significant. Jobs that require low cognitive input and are highly repetitive, such as manual data entry or copy editing, may be taken over by AI. Imagine a property manager who has to manage multiple listings daily; AI can automate the process of listing creation, saving them hours each week. This shift can free up considerable human resources, allowing real estate professionals to devote their time to tasks that demand strategic planning and creativity.

For example, it can help improve the brokerage process to help improve your listings. AI could scour data sources for lists of competing multifamily listings with similar rents, amenities, and locations as your properties and essentially conduct a market survey for the area, helping you to not only improve the quality of your listings, but do it in a fraction of the time if one of your staff had complete this task.

Moreover, AI tools have the potential to automate the asset management process, including property valuation and investment analysis, predicting property values based on various factors such as location, size, and local market trends, which can provide a more accurate and faster valuation process. This will aid property management companies in identifying properties that are not only ideal to acquire, but also when to dispose of assets based on specific market trends that are identified.

The role of AI in communication and marketing strategies is increasingly prominent. LLMs have proven their capability to generate diverse types of content, ranging from website descriptions that attract more leads and emails to property descriptions and social media posts. For instance, a property management company can leverage AI to draft engaging property descriptions that highlight key features, draft emails to potential clients, or generate creative captions for social media posts. This can significantly enhance the efficiency, consistency, and reach of a firm's communication strategy.

Moreover, AI's capacity for data analysis can be a game-changer for identifying market patterns and risks. A property management could use AI to analyze historical market data and predict future trends, thereby informing their investment strategy and mitigating potential risks. Future advancements in AI could even extend to rendering designs within minutes and predicting emissions levels and material procurement information, leading to environmentally-conscious and cost-effective building designs.

Potential challenges

However, AI's entrance into the real estate industry isn't without its challenges. The real estate business has always prized personal relationships and authenticity. While AI can process data and generate content, it hasn't yet mastered the art of building relationships or perfectly replicating the nuances of human communication. As a result, a general rule of thumb should be to have the AI take the first pass at content creation, while having an employee review it to ensure the tone is right and it’s warm, engaging, and helpful to moving leads further down the funnel

Additionally, the industry has traditionally been slower to adopt new technologies, so integrating AI into regular business practices might encounter resistance and a slower pace of adoption. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing in this instance. Taking a wait and see approach as other industries work out the kinks could be helpful and ensure you avoid going through some of the growing pains that are certain to be associated with implementing new and unproven technologies.

Another concern is accuracy and trust. For example, while an AI system can draft a lease agreement, it will still require a human to review the document for accuracy and potential biases. There's a risk that AI could generate incorrect information or content that unintentionally infringes copyright laws. This is where the value of human oversight becomes clear; professionals will still need to review AI-generated content for accuracy, relevance, and legal compliance.

Finally, the issue of data availability is critical, particularly for real-time applications such as property searches. An AI system can only provide real-time property data if it has access to an up-to-date database, which might be restricted due to privacy, proprietary rights, or other factors. This is why it’s important to either utilize an all in one property management operating system or ensure you have all the necessary integrations in place so whatever AI model you’re using has access to all of your data in real time.

Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of AI are substantial, and the industry's early adopters are set to reap the rewards. A brokerage firm that leverages AI in its operations, for example, could gain a significant competitive edge by becoming more efficient and data-driven. Although AI tools are powerful and transformative, they are not a substitute for human expertise and judgment. As the industry continues to evolve, it's likely that the most successful businesses will be those that balance the use of AI with the unique insights and relationships that only a human can provide.

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