AI ‘closing’ on traditional real estate practices?

October 13, 2023 | By Anthony Venutolo

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They're heeeeerrrre ... next time you're browsing online for a new abode and start chatting with a real estate agent, chances are, it will be a  robot.

The real estate industry has quietly embraced AI bots using human-like traits to assist house hunters in their search — after all, Millennials are the largest share of potential homebuyers, and surveys have shown that these digital natives far prefer communicating  via a screen than hopping on a call with another human.

Meet Maya, right, the brainchild of former "Million Dollar Listing" star Fredrik Eklund and his group the Eklund Gomes Team. She's a chatbot powered by AI featured on the team's new website, and she’s the result of nearly two years of development and a seven-figure investment.

Co-founder John Gomes told The Real Deal that Maya, whose avatar resembles an A-list movie star, is not replacing traditional real estate agents. Quite the contrary.

AI won’t be showing us apartments — yet — but, he said, “at two o’clock in the morning, if someone who lives in another time zone is on the Eklund-Gomes website, and they want to know about apartments in Tribeca between $5 and $10 million, they can be talking to Maya.

“She is a genius. She never sleeps. She never eats. She works 24/7. She knows arguably more than some of the real estate agents in here,” he says. Her interface is comparable to ChatGPT, but she’s different from other virtual assistants in that her tone, according to Eklund, is "spunky" and "spicy."

And while her PR game is strong — she arrived on the scene with fanfare from the likes of the Hollywood Reporter and TMZ — she's certainly not alone.

Among other new AI-powered real estate tools: Elise AI, a startup in New York that provides an AI platform for landlords and tenants to connect — handling maintenance requests and sending out renewal reminders, for example — just received $35 million in Series C funding. Its platform, which includes a new human-sounding voice product, is used with more than 30,000 units spread across 250 buildings.

While Maya only has a face at the moment, Eklund told The Hollywood Reporter that her voice will be arriving soon, with animation sometime in early 2024.  More important, though, is the user experience.

“On the back end of this, she’ll remember everything you ever spoke to her about and alert one of our agents that you are talking to her about maybe one of our listings,” he says. “And she can also send you a personalized message tomorrow morning that it was nice to speak to you and recap the conversation and maybe send you more properties within your range.”


Have you heard the one about the new diner on the moon? Great food, no atmosphere.

But if atmosphere is what you’re seeking, then you’ll be happy to read that Tesla has broken ground for what could be the eatery of the future, according to the blog Electrek and others. Back in 2018, Elon Musk hinted at wanting to build a retro diner and drive-in restaurant in Hollywood, but many dismissed it as Elon being, well, Elon.

A few months later, though, Tesla applied for the permits and in 2022, it filed plans for a combined Supercharger station/drive-in theater/diner with room for about 30 cars on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Musk has likened the project to “Grease” meets “The Jetsons,” with booths, an indoor bar and an outdoor bar ringing the building’s perimeter, with theater-style seating and a bar on the rooftop facing two massive screens. There will also be a carhop area for delivering food orders to parked cars on the ground floor.

But don't expect any feature-length blockbusters. According to Electrek, only short films will be played, just the perfect time for a quick bite and charging session. Tesla is hoping the city will allow the site to be operational 24 hours a day.

Using the original plans, architectural modeler Ed Howard took to X and posted some pretty cool renderings. But for the real boots-on-the-ground pictures of the excavation, Ottomate snapped some extensive photos.

It's unclear if Tesla is planning a chain of these Supercharger diners, but if this one is successful, one can easily imagine them peppering cities and highways a la the orange-roofed restaurants and motor lodges, of Howard Johnson’s, once the largest restaurant chain in the country.

And as electric vehicles become more popular worldwide, there will be a growing need for charging stations. And how cool would that be in the form of retro drive-ins courtesy of Tesla?

Anthony Venutolo, Manager, Global Communications