BAM Key Details:
- Plunk, the world’s first and (so far) only real-time AI-driven property valuation platform is partnering with emerging proptech disruptors to revolutionize mortgage lending, housing inventory, and influencer marketing.
- Plunk combines AI, machine learning, and image analysis to provide real-time, comprehensive property valuations that help homeowners identify renovation projects with the best ROI.
A new AI-driven property valuation tool could shake things up for Zillow—especially as this hot newcomer has just partnered up with three emerging proptech companies to revolutionize mortgage lending, housing inventory, and influencer marketing.
Plunk combines AI, machine learning, and image analysis to provide real-time comprehensive property valuations that could become a favorite valuation tool for both homeowners and real estate professionals.
Not only can Plunk tell a homeowner how much their home is worth—based on a detailed analysis of all the contributing factors—it can also identify renovation projects with the best ROI to help them increase their home value.
Live and ready to download, this app will make some noise among agents and homeowners alike. So, here’s what you need to know.
What is Plunk?
As the world’s first and (for now) only real-time AI-driven property valuation platform, Plunk has gotten noticed by some big names in the industry, for good reason. While it will likely meet with plenty of but-what-ifs, the more homeowners and real estate agents use and recommend it, the more Plunk will learn and improve.
By tracking over 104 million properties in real-time, Plunk provides dynamic valuations and detailed analyses for homeowners and industry professionals, leveraging both real estate and non-real estate data to make each valuation as comprehensive and transparent as possible.
With home values changing every day, the industry needs tools that can keep up. And Plunk’s newest partners clearly expect the AI newcomer to give them the edge they need.
How Plunk’s new proptech partners could shake up the industry
Plunk recently announced its partnerships with Calque, DropOffer, and SphereBuilder™—three up-and-coming disruptors in the fields of mortgage lending, housing inventory, and influencer marketing. Each of these partners will rely on Plunk’s Real-time Market Insights™ (API) to bring their innovations to market.
Calque, for starters, has pioneered a program called The Trade-In Mortgage™, enabling homeowners to apply the equity in their current homes toward the purchase of their next.
Access to accurate, real-time analytics helps us serve our customers faster and Plunk is at the forefront of providing what real estate needs right now.
DropOffer is working to expand home inventory options by enabling real estate agents and their clients to submit offers automatically to off-market homeowners, using the slogan, “The answer is always no unless you ask.”
Homeowners of unlisted properties are likely divided on what they have to say about this.
We give buyers access to the home they truly want while providing homeowners and agents a new avenue to sell properties. And by providing more accurate market and value guidance, our clients can make decisions on their greatest investment with confidence.
Both real estate data and market insights have historically been limited by dependence on old (i.e., not real-time) data and outdated approaches. For context, the stock market has up-to-the-second performance data available to investors.
It’s high time we closed that gap.
Now more than ever, timely and relevant financial advice cuts through the real estate marketing noise. We help agents grow their digital presence, and increase their local market influence, by equipping them with real-time data focused on the neighborhoods they specialize in.
Can Plunk see the future?
One of Plunk’s biggest draws is its promise to provide not only the real-time dynamic value of every home but also the future, remodeled value, including insights into the renovation projects with the best ROI for each property.
Homeowners and agents can even upload images of renovation results to the Plunk app to see the impact of home improvement projects on their home’s value. Pretty cool, right?
That, of course, depends on how accurate those valuations are. And it does raise the question of whether the home valuation takes into account brand names (e.g., Anderson windows) and design trends, both of which impact buyer perceptions of home value.
To an extent, Plunk has anticipated questions like that by adding that their “valuations come with a detailed comparative analysis and clear explanations—including the specific factors that both increase and limit a home’s value.”
In what could be a subtle dig at Zillow’s Zestimate, the Plunk website bemoans the fact that AI-driven models “too often act as mysterious algorithms that operate with an undisclosed set of rules.” Their aim is to provide an unprecedented level of transparency. And if they pair that with reliable accuracy, they stand a decent chance of becoming the new gold standard.
Plunk takes into account relevant details about the property as well as changes in buyer sentiment, which is influenced by mortgage rates, lifestyle changes, trends in housing inventory, and household income across national and local markets.
With even housing market experts and economists struggling to predict nationwide trends in home prices, let alone what the Fed will do next (though Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has provided some clues), Plunk can only take the data it has to generate an “educated guess” at home values, before and after specific remodels.
But that may be enough to give this newcomer an edge over more established valuation tools like Zillow’s Zestimate. Time will tell which one earns the trust of more real estate agents and homeowners in the months ahead.
What does Plunk have that Zillow does not?
One thing Plunk has that Zillow doesn’t is “at least twice as many” data sources. Plunk CEO and co-founder Brian Lent also argues that Plunk “removes bias” to create more robust and reliable real-time home valuations. Homeowners who upload images of their finished remodel to the Plunk app can get near-instantaneous recalculation of their home’s current market value.
Based in Redmond, Washington, Plunk’s vision is to become “the Bloomberg for residential real estate.” Institutional investors shopping for single-family rental homes can use the app to assess their options.
As for real estate agents, Plunk aspires to be their best portable tool for educating homeowners on the value of their homes and what they can do to improve it.
With all that Plunk has going for it, it’s worth remembering that Opendoor once pushed its own property valuation algorithm that was supposed to be the next big thing, before the housing downturn cost them nearly $1 billion in Q3 2022.
Even some of those singing Plunk’s praises believe incumbents like Zillow already have the advantage in incorporating AI—specifically its huge data sets and customer relationships, the first of which is essential to training AI models. As yet, we don’t know how many at-bats Plunk has had and how its accuracy compares to the Zestimate.
Based in Austin, Milestones.AI is another example of an AI-driven startup focused on the real estate industry. It feeds data-heavy profiles of residential real estate into generative AI to deliver helpful suggestions for homeowners and their agents—like when to sell or when to schedule important home repairs. It can even connect real estate agents with promising leads.
That said, the whole concept requires flawless programming and hours of laborious data entry. Also, without the right datasets, new AI chatbots are prone to delivering incorrect answers, which, as we’ve all seen, can do real harm to a company’s reputation.
I think it is more likely that AI will be applied by incumbents. Adding AI to a startup pitch is like adding 50 percent to the price tag.
What do Plunk’s promises mean for Zillow, eXp, etc.?
For now, it seems Zillow isn’t worried about Plunk’s potential for taking its business. Love it or hate it, Zestimate is still the queen bee on the home valuation scene, having used machine learning since its inception.
And with Zillow’s new AI natural language search engine, not to mention other developments in the works, they probably don’t see newbies like Plunk as much of a threat.
We’ve had a head start for quite a while and some of our coolest AI stuff has been launched in the last couple years.
Glenn Sanford, the founder and CEO of eXp, believes the ability to train the newest iteration of ChatGPT means any firm could incorporate it into its own AI-enabled chatbot. After all, why reinvent the wheel if you can afford to buy one?
It’s hard to know just yet if it will be a revolutionary or evolutionary member of the brokerage tech stack, but on the surface, it looks like it will make a great companion for inside sales teams. Its ability to quickly answer nuanced questions or proactively ask its own questions will improve consumer experience and lead conversion.
As more tech startups compete for funding and real estate companies feel the pressure to incorporate new, cutting-edge technologies, the engineering talent gap will be an ever-present hurdle to overcome. Plunk’s Lent acknowledges this when referring to AI and machine learning talent with backgrounds in real estate as “pink unicorns.”
The bigger issue, though, is whether Plunk, as well as other AI tools, will deliver on their promises. And if they don’t, who will?
The final frontier that we’re trying to cross is whether people are actually making meaningful investment-based decisions and moving millions of dollars due to this technology. Right now, it’s all about figuring out what is smoke and mirrors or vaporware, versus what is an actual product.
Top takeaways for real estate agents
If you haven’t tried the Plunk app yet, take some time to get acquainted.
You can use your own property or someone else’s as your first test subject to see what this app can do for you and your clients. Use Plunk as part of your toolbox to educate your clients on their best options in the current market.
It might just open your eyes to a cost-effective home value-boosting idea you haven’t thought of.