Invest in real estate, they said. And they were right: buying a home is the largest transaction most of us will do in our lifetimes, the place where we will develop and thrive, and—if done right—it will increase in value and add to our financial security in later years.

Given the high level of stress involved in this decision, it is no wonder tech-savvy entrepreneurs are looking at ways to seize technology to facilitate the process.

CRIBZ is an AI-powered personal property assistant. Instead of creating another app to download, it works by harnessing the power of Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant. The automated help is unique in that it does not ask you what neighborhood you want to live in; instead, it asks you a few questions about your lifestyle and ranks neighborhoods accordingly.

This results in personalized housing suggestions in areas of the city you’d love. Cribz considers budget, commute times to your workplace, neighbors’ characteristics and closeness of the property to your preferenced interests like restaurants and gyms, among other variables.

Currently serving Sydney, the company is rapidly expanding to other bustling cities where millennials are purchasing their homes.

Identifying opportunities

I asked Peter Esho, CEO of CRIBZ, to share his experience on niche identification for real estate tech startups. He revealed his startup’s two major innovates. First, he explained how CRIBZ is leveraging existing platforms to engage users in a more natural way.

Peter Esho, CEO of Cribz, an AI-based real estate app built with millennials in mind.

Peter Esho, CEO of Cribz, an AI-based real estate app built with millennials in mind.

“When we started CRIBZ, we first sought to identify the apps which millennials are currently using. We wanted to grow within that environment, as opposed to building a new app and having to convince them to head over to the app store and download our own version.”

“So we found Messenger to be an extremely effective tool. It has more than 1.2 billion users worldwide and continues to surprise us with its functionality.”

“All the research we read confirms that chat will become, if it isn’t already, the primary method of business communication. It’s less intrusive than a phone call, more immediate than email and more dynamic than sending a simple text. Platforms like Messenger also give us creators valuable feedback, so we can lift our game and build an experience that is more relevant to the user. This is a game changer in communication. But choosing a well-established chat interface that resembles the everyday interactions of young adults was only the first step.

The second innovation and CRIBZ’s key feature is that instead of suggesting areas to live, which the users may not be acquainted with—as probably they have not lived there yet—, the app suggests areas that match their lifestyle, greatly simplifying the selection process.

“The first question [real estate websites ask potential buyers] is usually what suburb or location. This is confusing and frustrating. So we built a process that asks more important questions in chat format—what is your budget, how important is transport, how important is schooling and what type of social preferences do you have. With this information in mind, we then serve up suggested neighborhoods.”

“So we first found where millennials are currently chatting, with their friends and family. We then built within that environment,” summarized Esho. “We don’t have any legacy issues being former classified businesses, we listened to what millennials want and then put our head down, built the data and now serving it back to them to help them make the home search process more appropriate to 21st-century technology.”

Real estate is changing

Many other companies are also creating new tools to facilitate real estate, each finding its own turf: an unmet need, a solution that makes real estate decisions easier.

Archimesa, a Panamanian startup, has learned from the fast high-rise development of the Central American country. Archimesa gathers up-to-date unit availability, project specifications, gallery images, 2D and 3D floor plans—all in one custom app for each project. The app is effective since both project developers and potential buyers are interested in the information it contains.

RealTelligence uses the power of Big Data to analyze the probabilities of a particular real estate agent finding you a great deal you want to close. The Texan real estate brokerage company realized how the emotional burden of such a large transaction can be minimized by having reliable, unbiased data analysis to trust.