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What Real Estate Agents Need to Know About Chatbots

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In today’s real estate climate, prospects want immediate responses to their questions. Unfortunately, agents can’t be available 24 hours a day to engage in timely interactions. Or, can they? Read on to learn how you can use chatbots to turn leads into clients.

What Are They?

When leads reach out at inopportune times, how can you respond? Not too long ago, there weren’t many options, aside from using an auto-responder with zero interactivity, or sacrificing other opportunities to maximize availability. These days, there is a much more efficient way to engage with leads when you aren’t available. They’re called chatbots, and they are helping countless companies warm and qualify leads throughout numerous fields and industries.

Also known as talkbots, Bots, chatterbots, IM bots, Artificial Conversational Entities  or interactive agents, chatbots are computer programs which conduct an interactive conversation via textual or even auditory methods. Chatbots function by using sophisticated language processing systems or by scanning for specific keywords within a user’s input to determine which responses to pull from a database.

Whatever the case, because they are able to convincingly simulate human conversation, chatbots have become a valuable tool that can be used in dialog systems related to automated information acquisition.

How They Apply to Real Estate

When agents are unable to engage in timely interactions with current or prospective clients, they lose out on big opportunities. By its very nature, real estate is a relationship-oriented industry, where agents and clients form bonds over emotion-driven transactions that are often the biggest investments people make in their lives.

Able to operate within just about any messaging platform, such as a live-chat widget, Facebook Messenger, SMS, etc., chatbots can’t replace the agent-client relationship. That said, they can be used in a number of practical ways, including:

  • They can pull accurate property details from a database in response to something like: “I’m looking for a home with at least a half-acre in Dallas.”
  • They can answer general questions, such as “Where can I find a mortgage loan with a low down payment?” or “How can I make a profit selling my house?”
  • They can also ask leading questions, such as “Are you looking for a bigger home?” or “What monthly mortgage payment would you be comfortable with?”

While just a tiny glimpse into how chatbots can be used, each of these examples calls for more than a simple answer. A chatbot could effectively engage a reticent or skeptical prospect by holding a conversation with targeted questions and answers. Once the lead is primed for action, or the conversation goes beyond the chatbot’s capabilities, it can transfer the person to you or a representative. If you aren’t available, the bot can be set to say “Let me find out and send the information to you ASAP.” This can be an effective way to collect contact information for more in-depth conversations you can plan when your schedule permits.

If you are interested in using a chatbot for your real estate business, there are a number of freeware and chatbot research projects available. That said, it’s generally a better idea to opt for a paid service that’s geared more to business. Whatever option you choose, make sure to thoroughly test the platform to see if it can effectively mimic human interactions. You should also make sure the chatbot will be versatile enough to function well on Facebook Messenger, SMS and any other contact platform you use.

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