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OpenAI ruled the tech sphere in 2024, as its free artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot ChatGPT captured the imaginations of millions of users who attempted to use the tool for everything from creating weekly grocery shopping lists to crafting full-fledged business plans.
The real estate industry quickly jumped on the trend, as agents and brokers used it to write listing descriptions, social media posts and take over some of the mundane tasks associated with daily business. However, the limitations and dangers of AI-powered tools started to become more apparent — two NYC lawyers were sanctioned for filing a brief with six fictitious cases created by ChatGPT, several national news organizations were lambasted for using AI writers, and writers’ and actors’ guilds fought to have their work and likenesses protected from it.
Mosaik founder and CEO Sheila Reddy has been at ground zero of AI’s evolution over the past year, as her company’s AI-backed home search and agent productivity platform won rave reviews from consumers and tech experts alike.
Reddy said AI brought some “natural fear” about job security, deepfakes, propaganda and the like in 2023; however, she believes those hiccups have prepared the industry to use AI more efficiently in the new year.
“There’s an openness to using AI. It’s a very powerful tool that can be used to supercharge productivity and improve operations,” she said. “We’ve moved past the initial ambiguity and perception issues, and 2024 is going to be a big year of more adoption and people using it in their businesses as a productivity enhancer.”
Here are Reddy’s thoughts on AI, the importance of avoiding “the shiny object syndrome” and what’s ahead for Mosaik in 2024.
Inman: What are you most excited about for ICNY 2024?
I’m excited [about] the breadth and depth of the speakers, across all of the different topics; 2023 was a very volatile year in many ways for the industry, and to some degree, the world at large. And 2024 is presenting itself with a lot of unknowns on where things are going to go — from an industry perspective, a technology perspective, a regulatory perspective [and] all of these different things.
Just the opportunity to hear the opinions, thoughts and action plans of some of the top leaders and thought leaders in the industry is something I’m looking forward to. Hopefully, I’ll come back with some actionable takeaways that we can implement at Mosaik for our customers.
We had the chance to chat briefly over email before today’s interview, and you mentioned the challenge of making decisions that set your customers up for long-term and short-term success throughout such an unpredictable year. What might that balancing act look like in 2024 versus 2023?
For Mosaik, our general philosophy from the day we started, and what we will continue to live and abide by in 2024, is just being responsive to the needs of our customers who are agents and teams and brokerages. So, we’re not making changes to our overall strategy, because it’s always been to just be as responsive to needs as possible, and we’re in a good place to do that.
In 2023, we did shift attention and resources towards those kinds of tactical quick wins that we can help agents kind of — I don’t want to say “stay afloat” — but help agents combat these different issues and market volatility that were coming up.
That will continue to be a focus for us in 2024. Just how do we balance those tactical opportunities to help agents generate quick wins while simultaneously building up the technological foundations they need for long-term success? If you’re managing those two, I think you’ll always be successful.
Speaking of technological foundations, a lot of people are still figuring out how artificial intelligence fits into their future. It seems there’s equal fear and curiosity when it comes to ChatGPT, DALL-E, and all these other tools that came to the forefront in 2023. What are your thoughts on AI and how real estate professionals can better leverage it this year?
AI started to break into the scene and rise in the public’s consciousness; you’re right, there was some natural fear. The main concern was, what does AI mean for job security? What does this mean for me as a professional? There’s probably still a healthy amount of fear in terms of deepfakes, how AI can drive propaganda or things like that.
But I think for the most part, everybody that we interact with in the industry at large has warmed up to AI. They’ve seen the potential of it and most of the agents and industry professionals that we have an opportunity to interact with on a day-to-day basis are eager to incorporate it into their business.
We’re still in the early stages of using AI, and I mainly see professionals using tools like ChatGPT to craft listing descriptions, social media posts, and handle some of those other mundane, yet time-intensive tasks. What’s the next step in leveraging AI?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think the next step, in some ways, changes by the day just because of how quickly AI is progressing. Every day there are new use cases and new tools, so my answer today might be very different than my answer 90 days from now.
But the big theme is going to be how to use AI effectively.
For example, using ChatGPT to write listing descriptions is a great use of that tool. It saves time, but at a certain point, some of the things ChatGPT creates kind of start to sound the same, right? Listing descriptions can become a competitive advantage if you can write unique ones, so will folks be able to harness ChatGPT and prompt it in ways that can give them better outcomes? Or will they kind of create a better symbiotic relationship by refining those ChatGPT outputs further?
If you have a great copywriter on the team or if you’re great at writing and your listing descriptions are what set you apart in the market, switching to ChatGPT might save you time, but it isn’t necessarily going to move the needle in your business if you’re losing a competitive advantage. So I think it’s all about looking at your business strengths and weaknesses and figuring out what gaps AI can plug in.
The other piece that we’re going to start to see more of is the use of proprietary data to power AI. Brokerages, technology companies or entities within the industry have access to proprietary data, whether that’s transaction trends, market trends or client information. They have these pools of data that they haven’t been able to effectively sift through and turn into meaningful information.
We’re going to see more companies start to leverage these big AI tools and models to derive insights and value from those proprietary datasets, which will, in turn, give agents and industry professionals a lot more accessible and meaningful information.
That would be a great use for AI. But when you mentioned proprietary data, my mind immediately jumped to data safety and some of the ways that AI can and is being abused. As a proptech leader, how do you think about the risks and challenges that come with AI and other emerging tech? What’s your role in helping consumers navigate a rapidly evolving landscape?
We’re still in the early stages of seeing what regulatory processes around this look like, and we’re still in the early stages of seeing what even some of the true power of this can be. And unfortunately, a lot of the time, regulation or just even best practices or consumer awareness against potential predatory practices doesn’t even come to light until things happen. You don’t know what you don’t know.
But in terms of what consumers can do today, I think the key is being cognizant of where you’re putting your information, and part of this goes back to my earlier point about using AI efficiently. I think all of us, you know, sometimes get into like shiny object syndrome where we see a new tool and we put a bunch of data in it and then we forget about it and we don’t know what happens to it after that.
A lot of agents, brokers and other real estate professionals are streamlining their budgets this year, so your reminder about avoiding the ‘shiny object syndrome’ is right on time. When it comes to Mosaik, what are your plans in the upcoming year to keep it an essential tool for current and potential customers? Where would you like to see the company 12 months from now?
We’ve got a lot of things in the works, and we’ll be putting out several new key features to continuously improve the platform and continuously incorporate our customer feedback into it. AI is a big part of our strategy for 2024. We’ve already been using it and incorporating it in many ways but with every passing month, AI models get better and more efficient and there’s a lot more we can do. So we’ll be continuing to leverage AI to essentially put tools in agents’ hands that will help them increase their productivity and create a better experience for their clients.
We officially launched in early 2023, and the rest of that year was about getting into new geographic markets and understanding different areas. What’s so unique about the real estate industry is that, although there are these macro trends and themes, the business is local and that’s something that has, in many ways, limited tech’s ability to serve agents — because one size does not fit all.
While we bring a lot of standardization and efficiency through our platform, we have invested a lot of time and resources over the course of 2023 in really learning these individual markets and their nuances, so we can make our features, our offerings, the data and reports that people can access meaningful at the local level. We’re excited in 2024 to bring more of that value to folks.