Becca Wilson is president and CEO for Tulsa, Okla.-based SphereXX.com, a company that she established in 2000 to focus on online marketing and tech tools.
She will speak during a "Seize New Markets" session at the upcoming Real Estate Connect conference in New York City, which runs from Jan. 7-9, 2009.
Wilson responded to a set of questions posed by Inman News:
What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2009?
The real estate industry is facing challenges, as are many other industries in this era of financial recovery. The expansion of the rental market — created by owner-occupied housing that has become rental property — and a tight loan market will continue to have an impact on both the single-family and multifamily housing industries. The housing stimulus package will eventually accelerate recovery and home sales will recover, and the secondary rental market will diminish.
Multifamily housing will see a mild increase in vacancy. Although the multifamily industry could profit and even expand during the recovery period, lease qualification restrictions will most generally inhibit that potential. The reduction of multifamily housing starts will reinforce the existing multifamily marketplace, somewhat offsetting the reduction of available traffic.
What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?
This is not a time for guesswork or to shrink advertising endeavors. Invest in a tracking system to account for every lead, prospect, phone call, Web site query and referral. Jealously focus budget dollars on known winners: be certain on what traffic sources are bringing in qualified prospects and line up advertising expenses accordingly.
What sparked the idea to start your company?
As the information technology director and assistant controller for a large apartment developer, builder and manager, and as a real estate investor, I recognized the growing demand for effective Web-based marketing and management tools for the real estate industry. Seventy-seven percent of all people today who are moving are searching the Internet for housing.
It was time to provide effective Web development, prospecting and follow-up applications, and processing tools to the industry.
What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?
My greatest challenge has been in educating real estate professionals to the demand for Web-based presence, marketing and application. The real estate industry as a whole is generally "tech-resistant." It is a phenomenon from which professionals must quickly recover at the risk of losing market share to more tech-savvy competitors.
What lesson did you learn in the last year?
I think the greatest lesson I have learned this year is that no company can expand beyond its capacity for customer service. I have seen some great market leaders fall in the delusion of thinking otherwise.
What would your second career choice be and why?
I can’t think of anything I would rather be doing professionally. However, I hope to someday be involved in an aspect of providing hospice care. There is such a growing need to take care of the sick and elderly in our nation.
What is the biggest problem in the real estate market today, and how would you fix it?
Resistance to change: The real estate industry must continue to grow beyond its comfort zone and push for integrations between service providers to ensure economics of scale.
What do you most enjoy about working in the real estate industry?
I enjoy the variety of services we are able to provide, the creativity, the challenge to constantly improve, and the collection of warm, intelligent professionals I have the pleasure of doing business with.
Tell us something we don’t already know about you …
I am getting married in March 2009 in New York City.
Hear Becca Wilson speak at the upcoming Inman News Real Estate Connect conference in New York City, which runs from Jan. 7-9. Wilson will participate in a "Seize New Markets" panel, alongside representatives for Threewide Corp., Halstead Property and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.
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