The Confusing World of Multifamily AI
Multifamily AI refers to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the multifamily real estate industry. This can include AI-powered tools and systems to automate and streamline various tasks and processes in the management of multifamily properties, such as property management, tenant screening, rent collection, maintenance scheduling, and more.
The goal of multifamily AI is to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance the overall experience for both property managers and residents. Examples of AI applications in multifamily real estate include technologies such as chatbots for answering questions, predictive analytics for property management and maintenance, and machine learning algorithms for application screening.
All too often we use terms such as Multifamily AI, Leasing AI, conversational AI, leasing assistants, chatbots, etc. interchangeably to describe various categories of technology that make up this space. However, many of these AI terms in multifamily are nebulous and some are more specific than others in what they refer to.
For giggles, we reached out to Chat GPT to ask what it had to say in response to the question, “What is Leasing AI?” Here’s what we learned:
"Leasing AI refers to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the leasing process for multifamily properties. Leasing AI solutions are designed to help property managers and landlords automate various tasks and provide a more efficient and personalized leasing experience for prospective residents. These solutions can include chatbots for answering frequently asked questions, virtual leasing assistants for providing virtual tours and personalized information, lead nurturing and scoring systems, predictive analytics, and personalization and recommendation systems. The goal of leasing AI is to improve the leasing process for both the property and the prospective residents, by providing faster and more accurate information, reducing manual tasks, and enhancing the overall experience for prospective residents."
Helpful, but still a little muddy. Let’s see if we can help break this down a little further to help you, the reader, understand the different types of AI available in multifamily.
An AI leasing assistant is a type of software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to assist in the leasing process for multifamily housing. Typically a combination of conversational AI and automated follow-up/nurture, an AI assistant can provide information about available units, answer questions from potential renters, and even schedule tours. An AI leasing assistant can automate routine tasks, such as sending follow-up emails, freeing up leasing staff to focus on more complex tasks, such as follow-up calls and property walkthroughs.
An AI leasing assistant can also provide a more convenient and efficient experience for potential renters by allowing them to access information and schedule tours at any time, even outside of normal business hours. Additionally, these leasing assistants can gather data from potential renters and use it to personalize their interactions and provide relevant information, increasing the chances of attracting and retaining tenants.
Overall, an AI leasing assistant can be a valuable tool for multifamily housing providers looking to streamline their leasing process and improve their overall renter experience. But, those interested in employing an AI leasing assistant should be aware that different leasing assistant technologies offer different capabilities. Most combine some version of chat with automated lead nurturing, but how it is done can vary widely and some leasing assistants offer other capabilities as well.
The capabilities of AI-powered leasing assistants that are seen in the multifamily industry can include:
- Chatbots: Chatbots are automated conversational agents that can assist prospects in finding information about a property and the rental process.
- Lead nurturing and scoring: AI-powered lead nurturing and scoring systems can analyze and categorize leads based on their behaviors and interests, and automatically send targeted communications to help move them closer to a lease decision.
- Predictive analytics: Predictive analytics systems use machine learning algorithms to analyze and predict prospect behaviors, such as scoring leads, identifying properties they are likely to visit, when they are likely to move, and more.
- Personalization and recommendation systems: AI-powered personalization and recommendation systems can use data to personalize a prospect’s experience on a property’s website, making recommendations for floor plans, amenities, and more.
Those exploring the use of a leasing assistant should research and compare the options available to determine which is best suited to meet a property’s specific needs. You can learn more about multifamily AI Leasing Assistants in this article.
Since chatbots are widely used in multifamily and are often included with a leasing assistant, let’s go a little deeper into how chatbots can differ.
Chatbots are being used in the multifamily industry to interact with potential renters (prospects) and provide them with information and assistance throughout the leasing process. Often, chatbots are rolled into what’s referred to as a leasing assistant. You may also hear a chatbot referred to as “conversational AI.”
Some of the ways chatbots are being used in multifamily include:
- Lead Generation: Chatbots can be used to capture leads by answering potential renters’ questions, collecting contact information, and scheduling tours.
- Customer Service: Chatbots can provide 24/7 customer service by answering common questions about available units, amenities, and the leasing process.
- Personalization: AI-powered chatbots can analyze data about potential renters and personalize their interactions, providing relevant information and recommendations based on their interests and preferences.
By using chat, property managers can provide quick and convenient access to information for prospective renters and improve the efficiency of the leasing process. Chatbots can be available 24/7 and can handle multiple conversations simultaneously, making it easier for prospective renters to get the information they need at any time they are researching. Additionally, chat can also help gather valuable information about prospective renters, allowing property managers to personalize the leasing experience and improve the chances of closing a lease.
Multifamily chatbots can be broadly classified into two main types: Rule-based chatbots and AI-powered chatbots.
- Rule-based chatbots: These chatbots use a set of pre-defined rules and decision trees to respond to user inputs. The chatbot matches the user’s input to a specific response based on these rules, providing a predetermined answer. Rule-based chatbots are simple and easy to build, but they have limited capabilities and can provide only predetermined answers to specific questions. Some rule-based chatbots operate using a menu for the user to select from versus entering their question. This is referred to as menu-based.
- AI-powered chatbots: These chatbots use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms to understand and respond to user inputs. AI-powered chatbots can understand natural language, analyze context, and provide more accurate and relevant answers. These chatbots can also learn from previous interactions and improve their responses over time, making them more effective and efficient. AI-powered chatbots are more complex, but they offer a more sophisticated and personalized user experience.
Chatbots, once available exclusively on websites are now available to converse in other channels, such as SMS, email, social media and Google. There are even technologies that can convert inbound phone calls to text exchanges with a chatbot.
The choice of chatbot type you select depends on the specific needs and goals of your property management companies (PMC) and the resources available for implementation. Below are more details on the differences.
A rule-based chatbot is a type of chatbot that operates by following a set of pre-defined rules and decision trees. The chatbot interacts with users by asking questions, understanding their responses, and providing answers based on predetermined rules. These rules are typically created by developers and can be adjusted as needed.
In a rule-based chatbot, the conversation flow is determined by the rules set in place, and the chatbot can only respond in predetermined ways. This makes rule-based chatbots well-suited for handling routine tasks and providing quick answers to simple questions.
For example, a rule-based chatbot for a multifamily property could be programmed to answer common questions about available units, amenities, and the surrounding area. The chatbot would ask questions to understand the visitor’s needs and provide relevant answers based on the rules set in place.
Along the same lines as a rule-based chatbot, a menu-based chatbot is a type of chatbot that uses a menu or list of options to guide users through a conversation. The chatbot presents users with a list of options and asks them to make a selection, which then determines the next step in the conversation. This allows the chatbot to direct users to the information or support they need without requiring them to type out their request.
Menu-based chatbots are often used in customer service and support, where they can provide quick and convenient access to information and help resolve common issues. They can also be used in marketing and sales, where they can collect information from leads and pre-qualify them.
For example, a menu-based chatbot for multifamily property could present users with options such as “Book a Tour,” “Get More Information,” or “Ask a Question.” Based on the user’s selection, the chatbot would then guide them through the next steps in the conversation, such as scheduling a tour or providing information about available units.
While rule-based chatbots and menu-based chatbots can be simple and straightforward to set up, they are limited in their ability to handle more complex questions, have limited (if any) natural language processing capabilities, and will not provide the same level of personalization as other types of chatbots. For more advanced conversational AI, other approaches like machine learning-based chatbots may be a better fit.
If you’ve ever used a rule-based or menu-based chatbot, you know how frustrating it can be when it can’t answer your question right as you’re trying to get your research done. That’s why, for properties, a multifamily AI chatbot may actually be the better option.
An AI chatbot is a type of software that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to interact with users and provide information or support. AI chatbots can understand and respond to human language, making them a convenient and accessible way for users to get the information they need while helping to support your burdened leasing teams.
In an AI chatbot, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms are used to understand the meaning and context behind user inputs. The chatbot can then generate relevant and natural-sounding responses based on this understanding.
AI chatbots can be used in a variety of applications, including customer service and support, marketing and sales, and virtual assistants. For example, an AI chatbot for a multifamily property could be used to answer common questions 24/7/365 about available units, amenities, and the surrounding area, or to schedule tours and provide information about the leasing process.
A machine learning chatbot is a type of AI chatbot that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to understand and respond to user inputs. Unlike rules-based or menu-based chatbots, which follow pre-determined decision trees, machine-learning chatbots can learn from past interactions and improve their responses over time without human intervention.
In a machine learning chatbot, the chatbot is trained on a large dataset of example conversations, allowing it to understand the meaning and context behind user inputs. The chatbot can then use this understanding to generate relevant and natural-sounding responses.
For example, a machine learning chatbot for a multifamily property could be trained on a dataset of past conversations with prospective renters, allowing it to understand the most common questions and concerns. The chatbot could then use this understanding to provide personalized and relevant responses to new visitors.
AI and machine learning chatbots can provide a more natural and personalized experience for users compared to rules-based or menu-based chatbots. They can handle more complex and open-ended questions and can continue to improve over time as they learn from past interactions.
Now that we’ve touched on leasing assistants and chatbots, let’s quickly discuss some of the other ambiguous AI technology terms leading to confusion in the market.
Conversational AI is another term that refers to chatbots of all kinds to automate communication and in the multifamily industry. In its purest sense, a chatbot is a conversational AI on your website. Used more broadly, conversational AI in multifamily is meant to describe chat technology applied in any or many channels.
In most cases in the multifamily industry, AI automation is used broadly to describe technology. It can be used to refer to a leasing assistant, a chatbot, or some kind of automated nurture follow-up.
You’ve probably seen referred to in many ways. Follow-up automation, nurture automation, AI follow-up, and more. Generally speaking, these terms in multifamily refer to the use of AI-powered technology to automate the follow-up that’s done on leads within multifamily. The goal of nurturing automation as part of the renter journey is to provide a seamless and efficient rental experience, while also saving significant time for the leasing team.
Now that we’ve discussed the multifamily AI technology terminology currently being tossed around in the industry. Let me introduce you to PERQ’s multifamily AI solution and the thoughtfulness behind the terminology we use to describe the powerful capabilities within to help supercharge conversions for your properties.
When considering AI leasing technologies, it is important to understand the differences. There are questions to ask yourself as you consider the options, including:
- Am I looking to save time or increase conversions? If I just want to save time, maybe an AI chatbot is enough.
- Do I want to provide my customers with the option to ask any question they have, or do I think they will tolerate a prompted approach?
- Would I like my multifamily AI chatbot to learn and improve over time?
- Does my website need more engaging experiences on it?
- Would I benefit from understanding the preferences of prospective renters?
- Would I like the AI technology to handle outreach to prospective renters who aren’t ready to speak to our team yet?
- Am I looking to maximize conversions by nurturing the prospects? If yes, you’ll want to look for an AI leasing technology with personalized nurture outreach capabilities.
Purpose-built for multifamily, PERQ’s marketing automation platform is designed to personalize every step of the renter’s journey and to help manage your inbound marketing. The PERQ platform includes three best-in-class modules designed to supercharge conversions and provide best-in-class automation. Let’s introduce them to you now.
The PERQ AI Leasing Assistant is a powerful tool within the PERQ platform that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automate time-consuming activities like answering questions, following up with prospects, and scheduling tours. The AI leasing assistant consists of two important modules: Conversational AI and Nurture AI.
PERQ’s conversational AI offers automation designed to answer prospect questions in all the places they interact with your brand. PERQ can automatically answer questions and converse on the website, via SMS, AI email, on your Google Business Profile (or Maps), and convert inbound prospect calls to automated SMSs while also reducing your onsite team’s workload stemming from top-of-funnel leads. PERQ’s Conversational AI has some important distinctions:
First, PERQ’s Conversational AI is natural language processing (NLP), meaning it can understand and respond to questions written in natural language, as we touched on earlier. This provides a far better experience than “guided bot” technology, where a user has to choose from a list of topics, rather than type in the exact question they have. And, it can answer far more questions than rule-based technology.
Second, PERQ’s AI is machine learning, meaning it learns and improves over time.
PERQ’s AI Nurture uses automation and personalization to increase conversions from all your lead sources while also reducing your onsite team’s workload stemming from top-of-funnel leads. In stark contrast to other multifamily AI technology, PERQ doesn’t give up on leads and dead them, we continue to nurture them using SMS and email for the extent of the prospect’s move-in window.
In addition, the PERQ platform also offers personalization capabilities for its automated nurture outreach, that adjusts nurture communications for each prospect and has intelligent lead handoff, knowing exactly when it is the right time to hand the lead off to a member of your onsite team.
PERQ’s AI Nurture and Conversational AI combine into a best-in-class AI Leasing Assistant for multifamily that can initiate conversational AI in many channels, start an email or SMS conversation from a nurture touch, schedule tours and give prospects what they need when they need it, everywhere they’re engaging your brand.
Whether a rental prospect begins engagement with your community via your website, on your Google Business Page, from an ILS or an inbound phone call, the PERQ Leasing Assistant allows you to be there to respond immediately and provide a consistent, responsive brand experience.
PERQ uniquely turns your website into your highest lead source with its AI Website Conversion Tools, which takes your inbound marketing to a higher level by adding 12 interactive experiences and AI shopping tools to your existing website. PERQ uses the data collected from website visitors and leverages it to improve nurture outcomes and make recommendations to website visitors. Additionally, PERQ welcomes back repeat visitors, recommends the next best actions and adjusts the experience menu as a prospect moves through your community website. By focusing on. your website as marketing of your overall inbound marketing strategy to provide a modern, interactive and engaging website experience to visitors, you’ll capture more leads from your website and increase tours and leases from unpaid sources. Ultimately, driving down marketing spend and increasing ROI/NOI.
In summary, the industry is quickly becoming inundated with multifamily AI technologies to help supercharge renter conversions and save time. With this comes inconsistent use of AI leasing terms which can be confusing and make it difficult to understand what type of multifamily AI technology you need. By defining these terms and using them properly, we can begin to provide clarity and consistency around multifamily AI terminology to better serve your inbound marketing needs. We hope this helps!