Jason Lopez, director of interactive business development with Southern California-based Century 21 Award, will take the stage during the Real Estate Connect SF 2010 conference, which runs from July 13-15 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square hotel.

Century 21 Award boasts more than 1,100 agents who work out of offices in four Southern California counties — San Diego, San Bernardino, Orange and Riverside. The brokerage recently recently relaunched its website, which offers consumers map-based property search capabilities and market conditions reports.

An expert on technology who’s also been an agent, Lopez will join Aman Daro, vice president of integrated marketing for McGuire Real Estate, for the broker summit workshop, "Conversion, Conversion, Conversion: How to Set Up a Lean, Mean Lead Management Machine in Your Company."

Lopez responded to a set of questions posed by Inman News:

1. What is the most important business lesson you learned in the past year?

To be open to change and not focus so much on what I can’t control.

2. What inspired you to pursue your current career path?

As an early adopter of technology I discovered that I had a knack for helping other agents incorporate it into their business. I also have a unique mix of real world, in the trenches experience as an agent, so I can walk the walk and talk the talk.

3. Share a personal experience or anecdote about buying, selling, owning or renting a home.

Since I had the good fortune of entering real estate at a fairly young age, my wife and I were able to buy our first home when most of our friends were still in college and trying to figure out what they wanted to be when they grew up.

It gave us a leg up and allowed me to share the benefits of home ownership with clients and potential clients. That made starting out as an agent much easier and showed clients that with a little calculated risk, great rewards were possible.

real estate connect san francisco inman news4. What the coolest technology (gadget/gizmo, software, hardware, app, Web site, etc.) you’ve discovered this year, and how are you using it?

Part of my role with Century 21 Award has been to work with Terabitz and 1000 Watt Consulting in developing the new Century21Award.com site, which we launched on May 11th. It’s really a great site that is on a totally different level then most large brokerage sites.

It’s been very rewarding to be part of that and to work with our operations team to create something we feel will be a game changer for us.

I’m also really excited about how Word Press is evolving and how we can use the iPad in real estate. I’m also a Foursquare and iPhone junkie!

5. What is your advice for real estate industry professionals to thrive in this market?

It sounds cliche, but you have to have real passion for this business.

Real estate is a great business but it can wear you down and with the recent economic challenges I have seen a lot of friends and colleagues fall on hard times. So having passion and wanting to get up everyday and work harder than most are willing to so you can help your clients is just an absolute must.

If you don’t love what you do, why bother?

6. What is your favorite non-work-related hobby?

With three children, most of our activities revolve around typical family things like Little League and soccer. We also love camping in our RV at the beach, and I love skateboarding.

7. Who is your hero, and why?

I’m not really big into heroes. But I have always loved the fact my wife has had my back for more than 20 years. Her allowing me to do my thing and being totally supportive is probably the biggest reason I have made it all these years in real estate.

I would also say I’m a big fan of the underdog. Anyone who takes a stand (usually unpopular) for what they believe in and is willing to put it all on the line is ok in my book. I also have a lot of respect and admiration for the men and women who stand up and go overseas to protect our freedom.

8. What do you view as the biggest problem facing the real estate industry today, and how would you fix it?

It would be easy to say getting the banks on board with the process or dealing with MLS issues. Certainly they are real issues to be dealt with, but my take is different and runs deeper. It’s that we are facing a changing of the guard and an apathetic outlook by a lot of agents in our industry.

The economy has allowed a flushing out of agents to occur, but many agents are simply not willing to adapt and change. I get it, but it has a trickle down effect that creates friction in the office and real estate community. Agents need to realize that it’s not about technology or leads.

It’s about innovation and leadership, and the sooner that’s understood the better off we’ll be. Our customers demand it and they will flock to the agents and companies that service them on their terms and in the manner they want. I want to be that agent and company.

9. What do you hope to learn at the Real Estate Connect conference?

I always look forward to connecting with old friends and making new ones. The best part of this conference for me is getting a glimpse at the future.

Most events talk about what’s happening today. Inman Connect talks about what will happen tomorrow. I always leave feeling like I have a head start on the competition and a ton of new ideas. One thing I’m really excited about is the developer face-off.

10. Tell us something we don’t already know about you.

I’m a vinyl collector, as in records. You know those big round things music was released on before iTunes and iPods. I have a special affinity for early west coast and British punk rock. So if you have an original pressing of any Clash, Stiff Little Fingers or Black Flag vinyl laying around, let me know!


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