Housing Market

Zillow’s new AI feature can talk to home shoppers like it’s a friend

Zillow's new natural language search feature can respond to a user's queries in “human-like” sentences

Zillow launched a new AI-powered feature called “natural language search” that can now interpret home shoppers’ colloquial lingo, much like how they would talk to friends and family. Zillow is the first company to implement such a search engine.

This feature is live on the Zillow app for Apple users but is not yet available on Android devices.

While you are thinking out loud, Zillow’s AI is running its back-end operations to provide the closest match to your desired home. The natural language search feature takes a query, compares it to “millions” of listing details, and then produces a result.

It is also training machine learning models to get better at responding to users’ queries in “human-like sentences.” 

“Beyond easy-to-filter criteria like bedrooms and bathrooms, buyers are considering many other specific features that match their unique lifestyle,” Jenny Arden, Zillow’s chief design officer, said in a statement.

Typing phrases like “$700K homes in Charlotte with a backyard” or “open house near me with four bedrooms” in the search bar will either show potential homebuyers their matches or will notify them when new qualifying listings are available, according to the statement.

Through this tool, Zillow aims to eliminate the need for a buyer to start with a location and use filters to find a desired home.

Arden says the new tool will change the way people shop for homes online “because it helps shorten the sometimes long and stressful house-hunting process by creating an easy, more modern way to search, and it delivers relevant search results in a simple, uncluttered way.”

Among Zillow’s other AI and machine learning-powered features are Neural Zestimate, which provides personalized home recommendations and floor plans from panoramic photos.

“The future of real estate will be powered through AI,” Arden said.

Last December, Zillow acquired real estate marketing and media services company VRX Media to provide agents and brokers with an expanded suite of listing services, marking Zillow’s 18th acquisition. 

The company’s focus on creating a “housing super app” and the housing market slowdown over the last year led to Zillow laying off 300 positions in October 2022. 

“…We’ve made the difficult – but necessary – decision to eliminate a small number of roles and will shift those resources to key growth areas around our housing super-app,” a Zillow spokesperson wrote in an October 2022 email.

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