It all began with an advertisement in the newspaper over three decades ago.
After serving for five years in the U.S. Navy as a surface warfare officer, Saul Klein was ready for a change. He sought a career with better pay and plenty of room for advancement.
It made sense for Klein to jump into the real estate business. His father used to buy properties and sell them, and Klein saw that real estate could be a lucrative business.
He responded to a job ad, took a test and got his real estate license in 1975 to work as a sales associate.
For two years, Klein sold condos, working at a Century 21 office in San Diego. He got his broker’s license in 1977. He then teamed up with a partner and launched their own firm, using an IBM typewriter to transcribe documents.
He recalled a fateful encounter during those early days in the industry.
"It was like serendipity. I got a phone call from a lady in Mexico, telling me to meet her at the Tula Vista restaurant in Mexico at 6:30 a.m. one morning," said Klein. Being the adventurous guy that he was, Klein drove to Mexico to meet his potential client.
This woman, whose identity Klein said he did not wish to disclose, became a key partner in his first firm for 12 years. She owned a business in Guadalajara, Mexico, and introduced Klein and his partner to numerous clients from Mexico. He earned her trust and she played a significant role in his budding business.
Klein came a long way from the IBM typewriter on his path to becoming a real estate technology guru. On his mission to build larger networks among real estate professionals, he began to engage in the online real estate community chat rooms and linked up with Mike Barnett, a chat-room moderator. Barnett, who has known Klein for more than 15 years now, was initially impressed by Saul’s humorous blogs and innovative ideas.
"I hosted the chat room every Tuesday night, and Saul and I would have conversations about taking (property) listings to kiosks and the Internet. Even though I came from an entertainment background, Saul taught me a lot about the real estate industry," Barnett said.
Klein and Barnett traveled together across the country to educate real estate professionals about the use of technology in the real estate business. The two, along with John Reilly, author of best-selling, "The Language of Real Estate," launched Realtown, a real estate online network for Realtors.
During the mid-1990s, Klein served as a consultant for the Realtor Information Network, a plan by the National Association of Realtors to bring property listings from Realtor associations and multiple listing services to the public. That original plan gave way to the creation of the Realtor.com Web site, which is the most visited online real estate search site.
An Internet pioneer and so-called "evangelist" for the real estate industry, Klein was selected as one of the "25 Most Influential People in the Real Estate Industry" by the National Association of Realtors and has also been recognized by Inman News among the "100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders."
"It is always a challenge working with Saul. He is like an ever-ready Energizer battery," said Reilly, who was persuaded by Klein to relocate from Hawaii to California.
Besides real estate, Reilly and Klein share another interest in long-distance running, and they have been known to trade military stories.
Last year, Klein took on a new role as CEO for Point2 Technologies Inc., a company based in Saskatoon, Canada, that offers technology tools for real estate professionals and a search site for consumers.
And he still maintains his title and role as president of Internet Crusade, the online marketing company that operates the Realtown network and offers an ePro certification course for tech-savvy real estate professionals.
Despite his busy schedule, Klein said he always provides his undivided attention to whomever he is meeting with, whether it is one person or hundreds of people.
"I have a pet peeve in the way that people treat the urgency of communication nowadays. I get annoyed when I am in a conversation with someone and they are text-messaging or checking their e-mails on the phone," said Klein.
With all of the people that he has to keep up with and his continuous travels, Klein said that he loves his job and is not sure when he will retire. When he does slow down, he said he wants to pursue his other passion — writing — and contribute more to his blogs.
Klein has plans to retire in Hawaii, where he tries to visit once a year with his wife. Family occupies his time when he isn’t working.
–View an Inman TV interview with Saul Klein, "MLS 5.0 means a new way to share data."
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