Sean O’Toole is founder and CEO for, a site that tracks foreclosures in California. The site launched in May 2007.

He will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008.

O’Toole answered a set of questions posed by Inman News:

What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2008?

Bank-owned inventories will continue to rise for the remainder of the year. Lending options will decrease as the extent of losses further unfolds. These two items will keep significant pressure on both price and demand for the remainder of 2008. Lower prices will begin to attract investors looking for rental income.

What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?

Even though foreclosures now represent more than half of the market, Realtors do not have to reinvent themselves. They do not necessarily even have to do foreclosure transactions. But they will better serve themselves and their clients by understanding the foreclosure market and using foreclosure comps to get their listings priced to sell and their buyers off of the fence.

What was your first job?

Paper route at age 10.

What sparked the idea to start your company?

After starting software companies for more than 15 years, I took a break and started buying foreclosures. I bought more than 150 properties at foreclosure auction and along the way I developed my own foreclosure software and data. In 2006 it became clear that professional Realtors and investors would need better tools and data than those provided by foreclosure list and media companies.

What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?

Finding great help. People who are both talented and enjoyable to spend time with. I’ve been fortunate to find truly great people, but it hasn’t been easy.

If you had one thing to do over again in your life, what would it be?

I would have stayed in college after high school. I may have actually learned more by dropping out to start a software company, but it was the hard way.

What style of home do you live in and when did you buy it?

I have a stylish city loft in the cornfields with the world’s best waterskiing out my back door. Purchased in 2003.

What worries keep you awake at night?

Figuring out the best way to grow and expand.

What lesson did you learn in the last year?

People are tired of hype and false promise. I do not need to cheerlead to attract customers — in fact they are attracted because I don’t.

What would your second career choice be?

Second choices? Why?

What kind of music do you listen to?

Alternative rock — old and new.

Who is your hero?

Bono. Who wouldn’t want to be a rock star who gets to hang out in Davos and talk business and politics with top leaders while tackling significant world problems?

Hear O’Toole speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. The conference program and registration are available online via the Connect Web site.


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