“Many other industries have already moved to being more transparent and real estate is starting to move that direction as well, but it still has a ways to go,” says Kunes. “Solving this problem will be good for the industry in the long term, but will ruffle many feathers over the next few years.”
In or out of real estate, is there one problem, large or small, that you would like to solve?
Buying, selling or renting properties is still not a very transparent process. Many other industries have already moved to being more transparent and real estate is starting to move that direction as well, but it still has a ways to go. Solving this problem will be good for the industry in the long term, but will ruffle many feathers over the next few years.
Do you think technology can change the industry?
Absolutely! We are already seeing technologies like texting changing the way people communicate. Searching for an available rental listing is very different today than it was five years ago, and even more so than 15 years ago.
The latest trend is the instant economy, with companies like Uber and Netflix changing consumer expectations of immediacy and customer service. Property managers will need to adapt and works towards embracing these changes — technology is what will help them do this.
What do you do?
I am the VP of product at AppFolio. I am tasked with identifying new market trends in property management and creating new features or products that help property managers capture those trends and build successful businesses.
How’d you end up in real estate tech?
Previously, I worked at a consumer-focused software company, and when the founders of that company left to start AppFolio, they told me about their goals with the product and I knew I had to join the cause.
As a renter previously, I knew how hard a property manager’s job is and how painful the software was that they were using.
What aspects of real estate are you trying to make better?
Everything related to renting, whether it be conventional, student, commercial or other! Property managers deserve great software that makes their lives easier. Tenants and property owners deserve an awesome experience from their property manager as well. Great software can make this level of interaction much more attainable by all size property managers.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
I love talking to property managers and learning what drives them, the goals they set for their business, what keeps them up at night, etc. This is the best leading indicator of the industry and where it is headed.
What products have you had a part in developing in the past?
I helped develop products in the point-of-sales space for resorts, cruise lines and casinos. I have also built consumer-focused products for IT professionals to provide remote support to their clients.
Additionally, at AppFolio I was the first product manager to join the team, so much of what we have built has been during my time here.
What are you working on right now? What are the challenges?
Most recently, we have spent some time building our product to be the best for commercial property managers in addition to conventional housing. The commercial market is very different with lots of unique needs. Identifying those differences and pain points, then building software to solve the pain is the biggest challenge.
For instance, commercial property managers most all do common area maintenance (CAM) reconciliations each year. Many purchase software to help with the painful process; however, despite the fact many have software for this very purpose, they wind up still using Excel to track this process because the software they purchased is too hard to use.
When we decided to build the feature into AppFolio, we had to take a whole different approach in order to make this process simple and easy to use. It took months and months, but our customers would say we have built the best common area maintenance reconciliation tool out there!
What do you hate about technology?
I don’t really hate technology, as I’m a technologist at heart. That said, I hate when technology is used in a way that it doesn’t actually solve a problem. Technology at its core should help us solve problems in everyday life, not just be implemented because it is new or cool.
What is one thing you would like to fix about the real estate industry?
The saying, “We have been doing it this way for 30 years, and ….” I typically hear this when it comes time to update a business process or upgrade to a new technology.
The real estate industry as a whole is going through a great revolution, with many new technologies coming out to help move the industry forward and make it more efficient. Embracing the change will be the key for companies to be successful in the future.
What motivates you?
I love to identify customer problems and then figure out ways to solve it with technology. I definitely have my dream job. Seeing happy customers using a product I helped build is all the motivation I need!
Time at current company?
Six great years spent at AppFolio and hopefully many more to come.
Favorite Twitter account?
I’m not on Twitter, but I like Instagram!
Mexican for sure!
Favorite video game? (Or book, if you don’t have a favorite game)
“Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell.
Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii.
Favorite band or singer?
I don’t really have just one. I listen to alternative rock, rap, pop — whatever is playing!
Describe what you do in one sentence:
I am tasked with identifying new market trends in property management and creating new features or products that help commercial property managers capture those trends and build successful businesses.
Degree, school: MBA, Arizona State University; B.S., computer engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara
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