Do you think Estate Agents will be out of job in the AI (Artificial Intelligence) era in the future?
Modern machine capabilities generally classified as AI include successfully understanding human speech, competing at the highest level in strategic game systems (such as chess), autonomously operating cars, and intelligent routing in content delivery networks and military simulations.- Wikipedia.
In this context, if AI can open and close door and negotiate prices (or there is fixed pricing) I think it can replace agents to a great extend. Can’t it?
Imagine you fix a programmable locking system to your main door which enables you to change passwords online. When a prospect wants to view your property, you just send him the password. You need not have to go there. Everything else can be negotiated via telephone. You do NOT need to go yourself to open and close the house. Quite realistically, this is no AI yet!
If you are worried about your valuables in the house, you would NOT simply give your password unless they pay a deposit. For stolen things (even you have CCTV), you can deduct from the deposit. Now, this becomes a problem. This is a problem of trust, not a problem of AI.
When it involves trust, estate agency practice comes in. As a prospect, you cannot trust the landlord/owner because he might not return you the deposits. He just hold your deposits although you saw the house in good faith but did NOT want to take it - reason is not important. This is the same as a tenant or purchaser putting booking fee, but eventually turn down the property with certain conditions not fulfilled. The booking fee should be returned immediately.
In the relationship of an agent to the principal in dealing with the third party, there is a certain amount of protection of rights of the third party which makes this relationship necessary. It is not really about the physical means to achieve a contract. It is about the duty and independence of the three people in an agency contract.
Indeed, it is not about technology or AI taking over the physical job, the core reason of estate agency is trust. Can AI take over this trust? Cannot. However, AI can be used by estate agent to better perform the tasks. No matter what, landlord/owner and estate agent canNOT be the same person. Or else, there is no protection to the rights of the tenant/purchaser.
Furthermore, there are issues about undisclosed principal - a buyer or seller who does NOT want to be contacted. In such scenario, there have to be a person entrusted with the job - an agent. This cannot be solved with AI because even when an undisclosed buyer can trust an AI to come into contract with the seller, the seller might not be confident to contract with an AI which might not represent the buyer.
For example, you are a billionaire and you need to buy a plot of land. However, you would prefer your identity to be kept a secret. So, you set up an AI. And, AI for that purpose is like an anonymous phone call, it does NOT represent anyone to come into contract.
When this AI contact the seller, they seller wants to know who this AI is. Then, you say I am a Secret. How would the seller trust a Secret Person? Therefore, it has to be an AI controlled by an estate agent which can take this contract legal because the third party can come to contract with this estate agent which is binding to the principal - buyer.