Technology is evolving across various industries and the real estate market is no exception. The home buying and selling process looks different than it did ten years ago and a large part of that is due to new technology.
Artificial intelligence or “AI” is one of the newest players to the game. At it’s core AI is a field of science dedicated to creating computer programs that can learn complex data sets, identify patterns and produce information or works in a fraction of the time that a human can. The true impacts of AI are yet to be discovered, highlighted below is an introduction to some of the conversations surrounding AI today.
Forms of AI
The most talked about form of AI is ChatGPT. ChatGPT has the capability of creating listing descriptions, generating leads, and providing market insights. But this is only a fraction of what AI is truly capable of.
Some real estate brokerages have the AI capability to determine which homes are more likely to sell in the next twelve months by having the system look at how long the home has been occupied, when it was last sold, and the rate homes typically sell in the area. This can be done on a large scale in a fraction of the time it would take an individual.
Programs can, in seconds, analyze millions of public records to gather or compare information. Zillow claims that their “Zestimate” now considers home facts, location, market trends, and home values, making the estimate more accurate. Not only is AI streamlining the comparable search process for agents it gives the public the opportunity to run searches themselves.
Text to image is another common AI tool that allows you to write in a prompt describing what you want created and then an image is generated for you. The need for stock photos or to outsource certain marketing materials may become obsolete. When using any AI generated product checking for accuracy is very important, if deceptive images and listing descriptions are used this can be an issue with the MLS, Iowa Code, and NAR Code of Ethics.
Finally, certain mortgage companies have been using AI to find the best loan for a borrower. AI can compute thousands of options and run future projections in seconds, creating the perfect plan for a borrower. Because larger brokerages have a greater ability to create, explore, and implement these programs the playing field for agents has the potential to change in a big way.
As of now AI is not considered to have “authorship” over its work leaving it outside the scope of copyright laws. Currently copyright law requires that a work embody human authorship in order to qualify for copyright protection. It becomes more complicated when humans and artificial intelligence come together to create a work. The U.S. Copyright office has had to determine a new approach to issuing copyrights in these situations.
The standard that has been employed looks at whether the human contribution to the work can be separated from the AI work and the degree of the human changes that are made to it. Making small changes to work created by AI is often not enough to help it rise to the level of qualifying for a copyright. Further, if the human work can be separated from what AI has done the copyright will only apply to what the human has authored.
Copyright litigation is in its earlier phases but there are still things you can do to protect AI generated work. The first effort is to make changes to the work to make it your own, keeping in mind that minor changes may not be enough to qualify it for a copyright.
In addition, when using third party AI generated material you will want to make sure that the material was really generated by AI. If it is not, there could be copyright issues with its use. In that case you will want to get written permission from the creator. Make sure that permission is saved in a place that you can access it should there be a question about your use. Finally, in the event someone wants to copyright work that contains AI generated elements there is a duty to disclose it when submitting the work for registration.
Due Diligence and Fair Housing
Another common area that AI has begun to pop up is in due diligence material. AI can verify and assess various documents related to real estate transactions. Important values can be cross referenced against thousands of documents in seconds to find inconsistencies and errors. This is similar to what AI can do for generating suggestions of properties for clients to look at.
Having AI take on this particular task does create some concern. AI is proficient in identifying patterns, so when recommendations are made by AI for housing locations there is the possibility that people may be steered toward certain properties based on the individual’s characteristics which may violate fair housing laws. It is important when using these programs to be aware of what the AI considers when finding properties to avoid any issues.
Finally, make sure that any property descriptions generated by AI through programs like ChatGPT are closely vetted and reviewed. There are consistent issues that arise related to descriptions that are not compliant with Fair Housing laws. Always review any generated content before using it in advertising materials.
AI can stream line tasks that once took a great deal of our time. It also can improve the efficiency of offices, reduce errors, and automate tasks. While this new technology is exciting it is always a good idea to be aware of how the program is being used and of any legalities surrounding it.