New Entrant to Portal Space Betting on AI to Attract Homebuyers

Online real estate brokerage Flyhomes has acquired assets from the real estate AI startup ZeroDown to launch Flyhomes AI, described as “the industry’s first purpose-built AI home search portal.”

ZeroDown is among the many firms invested in by AI guru Sam Altman, who stated he has heightened his interests in companies that use OpenAI models and ChatGPT. 

Developed over the last two years, the companies stated that Flyhomes AI is a proprietary technology that brings conversational real estate search and research to online home shoppers. The technology integration was overseen by ZeroDown co-founders Laks Srini and Abhijeet Dwivedi, who joined Flyhomes as chief technology officer (CTO) and chief growth officer (CGO), respectively. 

“We use a variety of OpenAI models as well as open source models,” said Srini in an emailed comment. “Specifically though, OpenAI APIs power a lot of our Q&A functionality.”

Currently active in 28 states and Washington, D.C., the companies stated that the new Flyhomes portal covers 75% of the U.S. population, with anticipation of a 50-state presence in the near future. At the center of the platform is an AI-powered search and research engine trained on hundreds of data points from dozens of different sources. According to the company, both consumers and agents will have access to more than 40 unique datasets, including the U.S. Census, FEMA, USGS, OpenCelliD, state records, county records, city records and more. This data has been layered on top of the information provided by MLSs to create what the company describes as “the richest set of housing data in real estate, with hundreds more data points than the next nearest competitor.”

The comprehensive data sourcing is intended to enable Flyhomes AI to answer many of the questions a homebuyer would typically ask of a real estate agent and receive detailed responses in return, a release noted. Questions can range from the open-ended, such as “Is this home a good deal compared to others in the neighborhood?” to the very specific, such as “How is T-Mobile’s coverage in this home?”

Flyhomes Co-Founder and CEO Tushar Garg recently told RISMedia that Flyhomes AI will solve the industry’s B2C problem, explaining that the existing portals have focused on a B2B approach. Garg also believes that the launch of the Flyhomes AI portal coincides fortuitously with the historic changes on deck for the real estate industry. 

“The settlement of the commission lawsuits mandates that buyers now sign a contract to compensate their agents directly before touring homes or even identifying potential properties,” said Garg in a release. “This barrier of signing a contract upfront will

cause many buyers to delay reaching out to an agent, limiting their access to the information agents provide. This will create a massive friction in the market, and AI is reaching technical maturity at just the right time to be the solution. This confluence of events has us confident that the winner of the ‘portal wars’ is going to be the one with the best technology and deepest insights for consumers, not the biggest brand or the largest ad budget.”

According to Srini, Flyhomes AI is also hitting the market at a point where most Americans have developed a comfort level with AI. 

“The past two years have shown all of us that consumers are ready to embrace AI,” Srini said in a release. “They’re talking to ChatGPT like a person and entrusting their lives to driverless cars. Real estate has remained largely untouched by AI, but the commission lawsuits are going to rapidly accelerate the need for information that you can’t get from photos or drone videos.”

Garg and Srini also believe that they are coming to market with a significant advantage over the reigning portal giants.  “Existing home search portals were built nearly 20 years ago and are intentionally designed to provide just enough information to generate a customer lead,” contends Srini. “We’ve taken a different approach, building a portal that lets consumers have a conversation as though they’re talking to a local real estate agent. A prospective buyer can use Flyhomes AI to go as far down the home-buying path as they’d like, all on their own time and without any sales pressure.”

While the AI model is designed to allow home shoppers to go it alone, the Flyhomes leaders stress that the portal is ultimately supportive of agents.

“Buyer’s agents are still going to play an important role in the transaction, but you can’t ignore that the buyer-agent relationship is going to change after August 17th,” says Dwivedi. “No one knows exactly how buyers and agents will work together in this new world, but we do know consumers will need access to information and that agents will be under pressure to demonstrate value like never before. That’s why we designed Flyhomes AI for a dual application, serving the needs of consumers and also giving agents a powerful tool to unlock data and resources they can use to better serve their clients.”

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