How much will technology disrupt the housing industry?

Artificial intelligence, in particular, possesses great possibilities as well as grave risks

How much will technology disrupt the housing industry?

Tech, innovation, and new business models will significantly alter the way Canada’s housing industry does its business, according to the Ontario Real Estate Association and think-tank T3 Sixty.

In the “Disruption in the Residential Real Estate Industry” report released earlier this week, OREA and T3 Sixty noted that the omnipresence of ever-advancing communications tech will fundamentally reshape the market, following the lead of industries as diverse as transport, news, hospitality, and labour.

Over the past few years, AI-powered solutions have been steadily deployed by banks and other financial entities as smart, cost-cutting measures. Some of the most prominent players in these sphere are Compass, Opendoor, Properly, eXp Realty, and Zillow Group.

“Technology is a benefit to Realtors in many ways,” OREA CEO Tim Hudak stated, pointing to the profound impact of these innovators. “In fact, we’re already seeing Realtors using technology to stay accessible, implementing artificial intelligence on their websites, and using chatbots to interact with visitors and leads, showing that Realtors are here to deliver the best client experience possible.”

“Smart money is investing in new technologies to help skilled Realtors streamline the home buying process and save their client time and money,” Hudak said. “That’s why OREA has taken a leadership role in getting technology in the hands of Ontario Realtors to help them improve the home buying and selling experience for their clients.”

In late January, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions stated that it might be taking a much closer look at the regulations governing artificial intelligence.

This is because as the algorithms involved become more sophisticated, the difficulty in explaining the decision trees correspondingly increases – what data science calls the “AI Accountability Gap.”

“AI presents challenges of transparency and explainability, auditability, bias, data quality, representativeness and ongoing data governance,” OSFI Assistant Superintendent Jamey Hubbs said last month, as quoted by the Financial Post.

“The credibility of analytical outcomes may erode as transparency and justification become more difficult to demonstrate and explain,” Hubbs added. “There may also be risks that are not fully understood and limited time would be available to respond if those risks materialize.”