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Wahi launches evidence-based ratings & lead generation system

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Real estate platform Wahi has launched an artificial intelligence-powered realtor recommendation system that aims to provide consumers with top realtors in their areas, and realtors with lead generations for clients.

“It’s meant for consumers to have a better way to find the best realtor for them,” says Wahi CEO Benjy Katchen, “And it’s a great way for great realtors to get new clients.”

 

AI-powered realtor matching system

 

Known as Wahi Marketplace, the system launched in parts of Ontario on June 22 after a more than one-month soft launch period.

Katchen says clients usually find realtors through local advertising, online searches or referrals from friends, family or colleagues. According to questions for Wahi included in Sagen’s First-time Homebuyers Survey conducted by Environics, 45 per cent of recent buyers or those intending to buy a home relied on referrals from family, friends or colleagues to find their realtor.

However, an evidence-based measurement of how well the realtor performs for clients was lacking, he says.

“What we’re trying to do is recommend the top 10 per cent realtor for the type of dwelling you’re trying to buy or sell in the area you’re trying to buy or sell in,” on a hyper-local basis, down to postal codes. 

Katchen notes that a realtor who might be great in Mississauga “may not be the best realtor for downtown Toronto.”

 

Evidence-based realtor ratings

 

Wahi worked with The Vector Institute, which is dedicated to AI research, to create the system. It considers several factors to match realtors with consumers, including property search location, type and price, realtor experience, expertise, performance and sales history.

Concerning sales, it’s not necessarily a question of who has sold the most. Rather, “We want to know that there’s a minimum transaction going in that area because that’s indicative that you know that area.”

Factors ranging from the syntax and grammar and photo quality of listings to how long it took for listings to sell compared to similar properties in the area are also considered.

“We invite certain realtors that meet our criteria to essentially opt-in,” Katchen says. “It’s entirely at their discretion.”

New realtors will not be invited to apply, he says, noting, “We think the message of getting a top 10 per cent realtor resonates with consumers.”

Realtors get qualified leads “at a level of digital savviness that may be above and beyond the average consumer, as these consumers have found them through a digital portal.”

 

Commission structure

 

If a deal closes after a realtor is recommended to a client, Wahi makes a 0.5 per cent commission.

During the first month of the soft launch period, Wahi signed up about 50 realtors and concluded its first deal using the new system with Jack Dyer, broker of record for Dyer Realty in Cambridge, Ont. who made a transaction with a client in Kitchener Waterloo after being matched. 

Dyer says Wahi is choosing its real estate agents not by random but through research. 

“They make sure they have a certain amount of experience. They actually even read reviews and knew a little bit about me and what I had done in the industry,” Dyer says. “As a real estate agent, you get called, at least I do, weekly from lead generation services which I promptly delete or ignore. But with Wahi, because of their research and the fact they know a little bit about you, we had that instantaneous connection. It felt nice to be recognized not necessarily for the volume of work that you do but the quality of work.”

 

Hyper-local recommendations

 

Wahi connected Dyer with a young couple seeking a first home in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont. The spring market kicked in, and it was “a terrible sellers’ market, so we had a really tough time, but we eventually found them a home that they love,” says Dyer, who has now been given a second referral by Wahi. 

Katchen says the service is just getting going, “But we’re finding there’s a pretty good response — we’re finding clients for (realtors) that they wouldn’t otherwise find. It’s just another source of potential clients for them.”

 

“We don’t want to just spray leads around. We’d rather have fewer numbers of great agents that we’re working with that we know are going to respond when we send them a lead.”

– Benjy Katchen, CEO, Wahi

 

There is no specific target number for the number of realtors Katchen hopes will sign with Wahi.

“We don’t want to just spray leads around. We’d rather have fewer numbers of great agents that we’re working with that we know are going to respond when we send them a lead.”
 
Katchen expects consumers to be matched with realtors while they’re browsing the Wahi app for homes and want to get the inside scoop on a property. “Then we’d say, ‘Would you like us to connect you to a top three realtor?'” and seek the user’s consent.
 
 
“I don’t think customers really want to hear about AI algorithms; they want to hear they’re getting the best person for what they need.”
 
Plans call for Wahi Marketplace to go Canada-wide, although Quebec may be excluded, not because of language but due to its regulations on how listings can be shown.
 
Katchen says he has not seen anything similar in Canada. Aside from customer reviews, realtor rating sites have no objective algorithms or data.
 
“We really believe the marketplace is an amazing, unique and scalable model that benefits realtors and consumers.”
 
Launched in May 2022, Wahi has “tens of thousands of users” that are provided with market data and insights on listings. Katchen describes it as “a free consumer app that we believe is the best consumer app for real estate.” 
 
He says that consumers expect the same level of sophistication and data control in their real estate journey that they would get using Airbnb or Uber.
 
He says the long-term goal is for Wahi to become “the super app for Canadian real estate” that consumers and realtors prefer to work with.
 
 

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