Planning to buy a property? What comes to your mind first? You check online for the available properties and connect with an agent who can assist you by searching for suitable houses. Then starts the process of connecting with different individuals to help you with the purchase. But what if there is someone or something that can help streamline the process and assist you in making an informed decision saving both time and money?
Meet Joy, the chatbot being developed by Ohmyhome, an integrated property platform, and real estate agency.
Who is Joy?
Joy would be a virtual agent that will help do-it-yourself (DIY) buyers and sellers complete their entire transaction on their own. The AI tool, expected to be launched in this quarter, can speak in both English and colloquial Singaporean English or Singlish. Built for speed and accuracy, the chatbot would be friendly with its language processing abilities.
The chatbot would look into the needs and concerns or local buyers, sellers, tenants, and landlords to provide them with accurate solutions. It would also analyze a huge amount of data to help customers with their doubts, including those about ownership policies and previous transacted prices, to help make an informed choice. Over time, Joy is expected to recommend partner service providers to help customers complete the purchase.
According to Ohmyhome’s COO and co-founder Race Wong: “The ultimate aim is to create a ‘virtual agent’ to assist do-it-yourself (DIY) buyers and sellers with their transactions, throughout their journey, allowing them to complete the entire transaction on their own.” Founded in 2016, Ohmyhome is the leading property transaction agency in Singapore. So far, the agency has completed over 4,500 home transactions, with a total value of more than SG$1bn. In July 2019, the property agency was also launched in Malaysia.
Benefits of Joy
With this new frontier in property technology, buyers and sellers will have the support of an AI-powered digital assistant round-the-clock. Since the virtual agent would be trained to respond according to the queries of different individuals, Joy would be able to answer some frequently asked questions as to whether one is eligible to purchase a flat or what a seller has to do after he has posted his property for sale.
What will set apart Joy from other chatbots will be its natural language processing abilities as it can understand both Singlish and English. Ohmyhome plans to use the virtual agent to assist their property agents with their tasks so that they can pay more attention to customer service.
Commenting on the development, Wong said: “AI is the next big thing, the future of property technology, so we’ve made it a priority to integrate it into our platform to enhance the customer experience. We talk to our buyers and sellers daily, and we hear their difficulties in finding listings and the right information quickly. During the home purchase, a customer typically spends most of their time researching, whether it is exploring new listings, determining their financial health, or understanding their homeownership eligibility. However, this is extremely laborious and time-consuming. We wanted to automate some of that process, which is why we’re investing significantly into artificial intelligence technology to assist sellers with the sale and help buyers find their next home.”
How chatbots can help property companies
Virtual agents or chatbots can answer the customer’s doubts immediately through the website, Facebook, or messenger. With chatbots, customers don’t need to wait for a human agent for answers regarding the property they are interested in. Also, the chatbot would not be restricted to the company’s working hours and would be available 24/7. So they can help save customer service costs by speeding up the response time.
The chatbots after asking specific questions, would come up with suitable options according to the customer’s needs, such as apartments and property types. These AI-powered agents can also help identify potential buyers after studying customer behavior and further introduce them to the real estate agents to help with detailed communications. These digital agents can also be used for scheduling property visits and help in automated follow-ups with customers in their preferred mode of communication.
The need for property technology (proptech) is going to see a steady rise in the coming years with customers becoming increasingly comfortable with online platforms. Also with the Asia-Pacific (APAC) regulators removing the remaining barriers to online property transactions, the demand for proptech is going to create new opportunities for both businesses and customers. A number of developers have hence launched their funds to tap into this area as the innovations in the proptech field are from the technology industry and not real estate. In fact, some of the existing customer-facing proptech offerings in the APAC region use interesting technologies to get the attention of the customers and aid them in navigating the process of buying or renting properties with ease.
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