John Helm, founder and CEO of MyNewPlace.com, saw an opportunity to create a better apartment-hunting process and sparked up the Web site to help streamline the search.

MyNewPlace boasts more than 6 million apartments and homes for rent available in searches at the site. Participating properties offer cash back to consumers who find their new place on the site and move in.

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

He answered a set of questions posed by Inman News:

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

Speaking only for the apartment market, I see softening across the board. Large apartment complexes will remain under pressure from what the multifamily industry calls the "shadow market," or rental condos and townhomes. This means increased vacancy for all owners of rental properties in general, across most major markets — especially Florida, Atlanta, Arizona, Las Vegas and parts of Southern California.

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

When times get rough, people have to refocus on the fundamentals. Brokers need to retool their sales force to sell instead of take orders. Train them to better source and qualify leads and then focus on actually selling.

What was your first job?

Office leasing specialist for Coldwell Banker. This was in 1985 when it was still owned by Sears.

What sparked the idea to start your company?

I saw an opportunity to utilize the new technology available to create a better apartment-hunting process and was encouraged by industry colleagues who ultimately became investors.

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

Finding and hiring qualified people.

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

I try to live without regrets … but one simple thing comes to mind: I wish I had sold my Homestore stock sooner!

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

I’m currently sleeping on a friend’s sofa waiting to move into a new home in Tiburon. It’s a fairly typical nondescript, overpriced Bay Area home, but with some great views!

What worries keep you awake at night?

I’d by lying if I didn’t say that I fear that the current credit/liquidity crisis will get worse.

What lesson did you learn in the last year?

Startups, young children, and moving are a bad combination. Thank God for an understanding wife.

What would your second career choice be?

A career in the military.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Classical and ’80s.

Who is your hero?

Winston Churchill. He was true to his convictions and they were right.

Hear Helm 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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