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Inman is interviewing real estate professionals in every area of the field to talk about technology use. Here’s Jim Walberg, a broker with Pacific Union – Christie’s International Real Estate and an Inman contributor.
What’s the biggest technology-related challenge you face today? How do you solve it?
The biggest tech challenge I face today is the speed of response required by our clientele and fellow colleagues. We are pretty good at getting back to any email, voice mail or text within minutes. However, it takes such discipline and focus to pull it off. We are still the ones who answer every call, email and text. At some point, we may need to delegate this off to an assistant because of the time drain that it creates every day. Stay tuned.
What do you think is the biggest overall challenge facing the real estate industry? Will technology be able to address it?
Well, there are several big challenges facing the real estate industry. However, if I selected one of them it would be the current “war” over who controls the information about homes for sale.
At the moment it is possible for consumers to review properties all over the country through Zillow. However, it is not possible for a local Realtor to have access to a national MLS to do the same. Technology is in place for this to be solved; however, it is a political “football” that has yet to be sorted out.
How do you feel technology is changing the real estate industry? Are these changes making the industry better or worse? Why?
Today’s technology is allowing consumers to be very informed about their options of purchasing a home. The consumer has access to as much information as a Realtor does (or more), and the Realtor has the MLS as the local information source. Also, the use of mobile devices has changed the world of property searches.
Both of these factors are for the good of the consumer. We are dealing with very informed potential buyers in the (San Francisco) Bay Area. And, having almost instant access to property information is also very good for our industry.
What model phone do you use and why?
The iPhone 5c. Apple has created the most user-friendly smartphone device I have experienced — PERIOD!
What are your top three apps on your phone?
Instagram, GoPro, Google Maps.
How do you split your digital time between mobile and desktop?
My digital time is split 50/50 right now with mobile and desktop. Because of the efficiency of the desktop for email responses, blog postings and client engagement, I don’t see this percentage of use changing much in the next year.
Describe your job. What do you do every day? How does technology support (or not support) your daily job description?
I have a very active, 30-plus-year-old real estate practice serving the San Francisco Bay Area. My job is to interact with clients and potential clients every day who need some type of real estate service.
There is no possible way my professional practice would have the success it does without technology. Some of the tools we use every day are: DocuSign, Dropbox, property search tools, multiple listing service, zipForms (for the writing of real estate agreements) and so much more.
Do you consider yourself an early adopter of technology? Or do you wait to see what’s working for other people?
I would consider myself an early adopter of technology. My belief is that if I don’t stay current with technology, my professional world will pass me by.
What email system(s) do you use? Which one is your favorite and why?
Gmail.com is my email system of choice. It allows me to manage all of my communication systems from any computer in the world because of it being cloud-based.
Which CMS do you use? What do you like about it, and what feature do you wish it would add in the future?
The CMS we are currently using is Salesforce. There is not any specific feature I can think of to add on to it in the future. They seem to be several steps ahead of me on all they do. The key for any CMS is to actually use it. If you do, then stick with it.
Do you use a calendar app? Which one? What do you like about it?
Google Calendar is the one I use every day. Again, since it is cloud-based it is on my smartphone, and I am able to log on to it from any computer in the world.
Do you use digital documents?
The digital documents I use every day are:
- ZipForms for writing real estate contract agreements.
- DocuSign, which allows all parties to a real estate transaction to initial and sign documents from any device, and from anywhere in the world.
- Dropbox as a tool of document sharing with the specific people connected to a real estate transaction.
Why? Because it allows for an effortless and convenient way for all parties connected to the transaction to manage the “paperwork” of a real estate purchase or sale. It has sped up every aspect of our transactions.
Do you own a camera? What kind? What do you like about it?
Yes, I own several cameras: iPhone, GoPro, Canon E05 T2i. Each of these cameras has its specific purpose and use when it comes to capturing images.
The iPhone is probably used the most for everyday use. Its images and video are beyond acceptable.
The GoPro has been a really fun tool to use for the property films we produce, which include drones.
The Canon is used for specific property shots before we bring in the professional photography team, who shoots all of our homes that are for sale.
What kind of laptop or tablet (or both) do you own?
I use a tablet only: Asus ZenBook.
Do you have a Nest thermostat in your home?
No, I don’t. However, one will be installed this month.
Which websites do you visit every day? Why?
BBC.com/news for world news. Wall Street Journal for business updates. Our local MLS site for a daily review of our local real estate marketplace.
Which social media app do you use the most on your phone? Your tablet? Your computer?
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
What’s on your technology wish list — for yourself or for work?
This question created a smile on my face. There is nothing on my wish list. When something shows up that I “must” have, I just get it.
Where do you get most of your leads?
The vast majority of our client engagements come from past client referrals — at least 80 percent. The remaining 20 percent come from our online and print marketing and social media. (In the past three years we have closed escrow on 31 transactions just from Facebook referrals alone.)
What is your favorite technology, one you actually get joy out of using?
Any tool used for photography and video.
What is your favorite “unplugged” activity?
Traveling the world. We generally have six weeks a year of getting stamps on our passports.
Read Jim Walberg’s article, “Finding untapped growth opportunity in your real estate practice.”
Would you like to participate in our technology profile series? Email email@example.com.