In a pairing designed to greatly improve the home-buying experience for agents and consumers alike, the largest aggregator of MLS data has been acquired by one of the industry’s hottest artificial intelligence companies.
OJO Labs, an Austin, Texas-based AI innovator with significant investments from Realogy, has purchased the 22-year-old Minnesota-based WolfNet Technologies in a deal comprised of cash and stock. While the terms of the merger are not being disclosed, WolfNet Founder Joel MacIntosh confirmed that he will remain CEO of WolfNet and retain his entire 42-employee team in Minnesota.
“I love this industry. This is my life,” MacIntosh says. “We want to have a meaningful and significant impact.”
By combining OJO’s AI bot with WolfNet’s data, which includes an aggregation of 97 percent of the MLS in the U.S. and Canada, industry experts say the technology will enable real estate brokers and agents to better serve their clients.
“This is probably the most impressive fundamental move toward assisting the industry in improving the consumer experience,” says Ken Jenny of tranCen.com, an early investor in OJO and advisor on the merger. “We partnered a Ferrari with the fuel.”
OJO operates as a virtual assistant that interacts with real estate consumers through a smart phone application or texting; however, instead of providing enormous data dumps like Google and Amazon, the OJO bot learns each consumer’s preferences and filters home-searching results that are customized for them in a smarter and more manageable way, Jenny says.
“Through a text interface, OJO can have a conversation with a consumer to help narrow the search of the home,” Jenny says. “It puts it all in context.”
Since the bot operates continuously, it is constantly learning and will always be available to answer questions and assist the consumer in real-time—something that is nearly impossible for a real estate broker to accomplish even with a deep and talented team. Notably, the product will be provided by the real estate agents to their clients.
“It will help agents do what they do really well,” MacIntosh says. “It’s the right communication at the right time with the consumer, and that’s really a missing piece right now.”
MacIntosh says he has been looking for a partner in the AI space for about five years, and OJO emerged as the perfect fit for WolfNet.
“We’ve seen it all but we haven’t seen anything like the OJO product,” MacIntosh says. “It’s very unique.”
OJO will first be made available to brokers and agents with Realogy, Jenny says. The product will later be rolled out to different brands, and those agents will be providing it to their clients, he adds.
While OJO is strictly in the real estate space right now, Jenny says it could be deployed into additional verticals in the future.
“It enables real estate pros and brokers to provide AI to help consumers in the home-search process,” Jenny says. “That is the beginning. There is no end.”
For more information, please visit https://landing.ojo.me/.
Andrew King is a contributing editor to RISMedia.
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