• Carla Mozee/Business Insider

A 36-year-old chess prodigy built a software to speedily buy homes from afar for big investors

A.J. Steigman sold more houses in Atlanta last year than any other broker — despite the fact that he lives in Florida and has no full-time staff.

He's able to sell residential properties from thousands of miles away thanks to a $20,000 computer and a proprietary software system called "Steignet" that he launched at the University of Pennsylvania in 2018.

The system's algorithms scan large data sets to identify undervalued single-family homes before the human competition. Its name is a reference to the Terminator's villainous artificial intelligence network "Skynet," as The Wall Street Journal first reported.

But you won't find any mom and pop homebuyers on Steigman's client roster. Instead, he works with investors that flip the homes or rent them out for profit.

Steigman declined to name his clients, but told Insider they include hedge funds, high- net worth family offices, and billion-dollar-plus private equity firms. Institutional investorswhich can range from small time landlords to major players on Wall Street bought a record high of 18.4% of US homes in the fourth quarter of 2021, Redfin announced in February.