Robots Suit Up for Bigger Roles in Real Estate

Several new companies are introducing robots that could reshape how property is rented and sold. Robots are showing properties, creating floor plans, and shooting videos of homes and freeing the time of agents to focus on other tasks in a transaction.

The Wall Street Journal recently featured several examples of where exactly the robots are heading into real estate. For example, Zenplace captured headlines in recent months when it started conducting property tours using a robot guide, which is controlled remotely by a licensed agent. A brokerage in Woodland Hills, Calif., called REX is using robots inside sellers’ homes that can answer property questions as well as collect data from the people who tour the home. VirtualAPT launched a robot that can create three-dimensional property videos. 

The companies say they’re seeing interest grow rapidly. VirtualAPT told WSJ it expects to film 10,000 residential units within the next 12 months. Zenplace says it plans to expand outside of just select California markets to New York, Texas, Washington, and Florida this year. REX says its robots were inside a house per day in 2017 in Southern California and the New York area. With a recent $15 million boost in its latest round of funding, REX plans to expand its offerings in San Francisco, Austin, Denver, and Dallas by the end of the year.

Robots may be entering more jobs within real estate, but the industry doesn’t view them as a threat of one day replacing their roles. “I believe that agents are critical to transactions and always will be,” Robert Reffkin, chief executive of Compass, a real estate brokerage in New York, told WSJ.

Source: “Why Your Next Real-Estate Deal Might Involve a Robot,” The Wall Street Journal (March 1, 2018) [Log-in required.]

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