Amazon’s personal assistant, Alexa, made her debut with the introduction of the Amazon Echo device and already has many fans. From instantly providing a stream of pop rock hits from the 1990s to helping with homework, Alexa can also assist in managing your home’s thermostat settings, lighting and appliances—and, now, she can even find you a new place to live.
Alexa Has Skills…Lots of Them
As ownership of voice-activated systems like Alexa and her competitors grows, so do their skill sets. As of the end of June 2017, Amazon had certified 15,000 skills for use by its Alexa platform. (A skill is an application developed by a programmer that enables Alexa to perform a new task.) Some of these skills enable users to ask Alexa for help in finding things, from lost keys and local sushi places to a new home.
In particular, the “Real Estate” skill enables you to initiate your search for a new residence to rent or buy by simply asking Alexa to find you a home. After Alexa asks some of the same questions you would typically have to answer on an online form regarding your price range, number of bedrooms, etc., she searches the local MLS and delivers a list of possibilities to your email box.
For those looking to sell their home, Alexa asks a different set of follow-up questions and then notifies a local Real Estate Agent of your interest in listing. The Real Estate Agent will then contact you directly.
Additionally, Alexa’s skills allow her to define some of the mortgage terms that pop up when you are applying for a loan. She can also access mortgage calculators and help you determine what your payments might be.
Reviewers of the real estate-related skills on Amazon are still small in number, but they tend to be pleased with the ease and accuracy of the information they are receiving. Geographic coverage is a bit spotty, but as more firms add their apps, Alexa is likely to provide information regardless of where you live or what part of the process you are looking for help with (buying, renting, selling, borrowing or moving).
You Will Still Want a Real Estate Agent
While Alexa and competing voice-activated services may help you start your search, possibly get you directions to open houses, and answer questions about terminology and rates, you are still likely to want a Real Estate Agent. Alexa cannot show you a home or point out its features and potential flaws, let alone provide negotiating support.
However, being able to look for a new home, conversationally, can make your search seem more personal than typing answers into online forms. It will also speed up the time it takes to receive information. Alexa, after all, is all ears—all the time!