“I’ve always wanted to see a change in the transaction management process,” says Perna. “It can be daunting and confusing for clients, and it seems like homebuyers and sellers are constantly struggling to get all of the information they want and need.”

Russ Perna is the senior software architect for Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

I really enjoy the challenge of programming. In many ways, my job is to come up with things that shouldn’t be able to work and then find a way to make it happen. I find it really rewarding to create something tangible from an idea. Especially when those things can help agents and clients.

How did you end up in real estate tech?

Luck! I stumbled upon an open position at Rand Realty and it struck my interest. I had been working as a Web developer in the lighting industry, but I was looking to change things up. I just so happened to catch this break and I haven’t looked back since.

The really cool thing about real estate tech, and what piqued my interest when I found the job opening at Rand, is that there’s a lot of room for innovation.

What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better? Please be specific.

I’ve always wanted to see a change in the transaction management process. It can be daunting and confusing for clients, and it seems like homebuyers and sellers are constantly struggling to get all of the information they want and need.

That’s one of the reasons I like working with dotloop, a software that’s attempting to make the transaction process easier. It’s important to us that transactions be as seamless as possible for clients. I’d like to see the whole industry working together to make transactions smooth, easy and transparent.

What do you do? Please elaborate and be specific.

As senior software architect, I’m responsible for Rand Realty’s company website and internal programming. I created our website and continue to add new features on a daily basis. I also write all of the software to integrate with our MLS systems, develop back-office software and work with the various software vendors.

What products have you had a part in developing in the past? 

I’ve worked on several projects during my 14 years at Rand, but the biggest and most rewarding project has been the company website, which was written by me. Eight years ago, I did a ground-up rewrite of the website, and since then we have continued to evolve. The most recent update is an automated home valuation that allows you to put the address of a house in and get a mashup of data back with an estimate of what your house is worth.

What are you working on right now? What are the challenges? Please elaborate and be specific.

I’m currently working on a tool that provides agents with insight into their strengths and weaknesses. The goal is to give them the information they need to become better agents and continually improve client experience.

Agents can select a region and date range and the program will spit back as many metrics as it can. This includes everything from data on transactions completed versus the average amount of transactions completed by other agents within the company to data on regional sales. I also hope that the program will be a resource for marketing materials and advertising.

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Favorite food?

Tough call, but I’d have to say pad thai.

Favorite video game? (Or book, if you don’t have a favorite game?)

“Ender’s Game.”

Favorite city?

My favorite city would have to be San Francisco. I like the feel of it. I grew up on the West Coast, so I’ve always liked the energy over there. It’s also a big tech city, which, for me, is a major draw.

What do you hate about technology?

I have nothing bad to say about technology. It’s something that I love and embrace. Sometimes the bureaucracy of developing can be frustrating, but that has little to do with the actual technology.

Do you think technology can change the industry?

Absolutely. Technology has and continues to change the real estate industry. When I started working in the industry, people were using real estate books. These things were the size of an old Sears catalog. We’re talking huge booklets filled with listings that came out every month. Now, all that information is available online. Not only does that one small change save hundreds of thousands of trees, it also makes information more easily accessible.

Down the line, you’re going to see an increase in information being delivered to mobile devices based on location. That’s huge for homebuyers. They’ll be able to get a better idea of what is available near them in real time. Access to more information about schools, crime and unemployment on a street-by-street basis will change the industry as we know it.

What motivates you?

My No. 1 goal is to make a good life for my family. Coincidentally, my wife is a real estate agent, so many of my dreams for the real estate industry tie back to my main motivator.

Time at current company: 14 years

Describe what you do in one sentence: As senior software architect, I am responsible for all in-house programming for Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty.

Age: 36

Degree, school: Computer science, Rockland Community College

Location: New City, New York

Social media: LinkedIn 

Are you a real estate leader who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.

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