Ask Redfin, an artificial intelligence assistant for homeshoppers, is now in beta testing on the company’s mobile iOS search experience.

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Ask Redfin, an artificial intelligence assistant for homeshoppers, is now in beta testing on the company’s mobile iOS search experience.

The generative tool is designed to assist consumers, and anyone looking for a home in the U.S. can opt-in to be a part of the early launch phase, according to a March 7 press release. Users can engage with the bot on a number of listing-specific topics, asking it if there are any upcoming open houses, if it’s possible to build an ADU, what the HOA fees amount to, what’s unique about the home’s interior or what nearby schools are like, among other common queries.

“It’s integrated with Redfin’s support team, so homebuyers can be quickly connected to a licensed real estate agent if their question goes beyond the details of the listing, such as how to make an offer or to get an agent’s opinion on the market value of a home,” the release stated.

Redfin is looking to tap into how AI tools can give time back to agents and quickly inform buyers with the market information that drives buying decisions. Ask Redfin can eliminate time-consuming email threads and cut short the time agents need to determine a lead’s validity. Should the beta test go as expected, sellers could benefit by reducing the number of times a house is shown to lukewarm leads or misinformed buyers.

Homeshoppers who have downloaded Redfin’s iPhone app in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Washington, D.C., about a dozen U.S. metros in total, will be prompted to consider using the AI chat when looking at a listing. Those outside those automatic markets can still participate in the beta, which can be accessed via the My Redfin module within the app.

The company said it plans to make the feature a default option in more markets as the beta progresses and will be asking for consumer feedback, as well as gathering data from agents on the tool’s performance.

“We include an enormous amount of data on every listing you find on Redfin because homebuyers deserve as much insight into a home as possible,” said Ariel Dos Santos, Redfin senior vice president of product and design, in the release.“Ask Redfin makes it easy and effortless for customers to find the information they want to know.”

Inman covered Redfin’s most recent earnings report, which revealed that the brokerage continued its recovery during the fourth quarter of 2023, with revenue declining 2 percent year over year to $218.1 million — a near 180° turn from its Q1 and Q2 showings, where annual revenue declines topped 20 percent.

The Seattle-based company’s earnings report showed that gross margins improved, rising 32 percent year over year to $73.2 million as gross profits from real estate services increased 14 percent year over year to $29.9 million. Gross margins from real estate services were 22.5 percent — a 20 percent increase from Q4 2022, Inman reported.

Company CEO Glenn Kelman once again invoked web traffic statistics to claim a position in the “portal wars,” an ongoing debate among web search leaders on whose website attracts the most users.

Kelman said the company was “the No. 1 brokerage website” in 2023, with reaching 49 million average monthly users in 2023.

“Our site continued to draw visitors from rivals. And new sales initiatives are driving breakthroughs on fronts where Redfin has been stymied for years,” he said on the earnings call.

Portal competitor CoStar, led by less-than-reticent CEO Andy Florance, recently launched a billion-dollar national advertising campaign to push to American consumers, starting with three commercials aired during the Super Bowl starring Daniel Levy and Saturday Night Live’s Heidi Gardner. CoStar will then continue to run commercials throughout the year, including during major cultural events such as the Oscars and NBA playoffs.

At Inman Connect New York, Florance jabbed his search competitors, including Redfin, referring to them collectively under the newly coined portmanteau “Ziltorfin.”

Determining traffic count isn’t an exact science, and the numbers require a good deal of parsing to accurately compare “apples to apples.” Most reports are educated guesses, according to digital marketing company HubSpot. Additionally, traffic in no way equates to content quality or how well services are delivered.

Tools like Ask Redfin, for example, could actually reduce the amount of time a user spends on the portal by providing information faster.

Redfin announced in October of last year that it’s cutting ties with the National Association of Realtors. Kelman cited the 1.56-million member real estate trade organization’s recent sexual harassment scandal alongside a host of other grievances, including NAR’s commission structure, as the primary reason for its call for as many as 1,800 brokers and agents to cancel their membership immediately.

Redfin’s position on NAR (and, by extension, in some markets, MLSs) makes it even more important for their standalone product to draw traffic.

The Redfin app is available on Apple’s app store.

Email Craig Rowe

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