Lake has an Android — a Samsung Galaxy 5. “Androids play well with others,” she says. “IPhones are sexy as hell, but I like my technology to take away barriers instead of create them.”

Inman is interviewing tech users (and naysayers). Here’s Sunny Lake, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain and an Inman contributor.

How do you feel about technology? When do you prefer to use technology and when do you prefer to unplug?

I love technology that makes my life easier. If it adds noise without value, I dump it as soon as I pick it up. Time is valuable, and I want to harness it instead of waste it.

I manage an office with an aging agent population. They fight technology every step of the way. So I have cut back on the technology classes that I offer for the group, and work with agents one-on-one who want to dive deeper into a new application.

I write freehand every day. I prefer it that way. But in terms of keeping my life on track, I fully embrace technology. I would say that I’m more high-touch than high-tech with my interactions. I prefer human connection. But when it’s not possible, I use technology (like Google Hangouts) to still make that connection.

Time is valuable, and I want to harness it instead of waste it.

I have a love-hate relationship with my Kindle. As much as I love the convenience of having hundreds of books at my fingertips without taking up space, I miss the feel and smell of physical books. I also miss my notes, Post-its, and highlights that I have with an actual book. Kindle lets you do those things, but it’s not the same for me. There are some books that I will always keep a physical copy of.

What kind of phone do you use and why?

Android — Samsung Galaxy 5. Androids play well with others. IPhones are sexy as hell, but I like my technology to take away barriers instead of create them. I want to rule my phone, not the other way around.

What are the top three apps on your phone?

Facebook Messenger, Contactually and anything Google — Hangouts, Gmail, Calendar, Drive, etc.

home screen


What percentage of your time do you spend at a desktop computer or laptop, and how much is mobile?

During office hours, I’m 90 percent desktop. At home, I’m 90 percent mobile.

Describe your job.

I manage a real estate office with 60 agents and three staff members. My day is a moving target, and there are very few constants that I can count on during any day.

When the agents have an issue that needs to be resolved, I have found it is better to talk it through with them face to face or on the phone. There is too much room for error with email or a text, as answers often lead to more questions.

Technology helps me keep track of my appointments, tasks and makes some communication easier. But it can also lead to a lot of distractions if I’m not careful.

Are you an early adopter or do you wait a while before investing in new technology?

I am usually one of the first people in my circles to try a new piece of technology. But if it doesn’t capture me right away, I get rid of it. I use technology to help me simplify or enrich my life. So if it doesn’t do that, I move on.

What is your biggest tech-related challenge?

My biggest tech-related challenge is getting people to use systems that will help them do a better job and be more efficient. But I can’t change people, so I am learning not to force-feed them.

What is the biggest challenge we face in the real estate industry?

Some people will answer this question with “lead generation.” But I think that’s wrong. The biggest challenge we face in the real estate industry is focus. If we could focus on the relationships, the business and the best practices, then we wouldn’t need a constant stream of faceless leads to sustain our business.

Our job is to help people buy and sell real estate. And I would imagine that every single person who needs to buy or sell, in fact, knows someone in the industry. Since we haven’t been good about keeping up with those relationships, it’s easy for them to get scooped up by a machine. That’s our bad, not the consumers’.

How is technology changing the real estate industry?

This is a double-edged sword. I think technology is making transactions easier, but it is also adding a disconnect that hurts the business.

People can sign a contract from anywhere in the world. In doing that, they miss the connection with the agent. It’s no wonder the public isn’t sure what value we add. We don’t always do a good job of showing it. If a purchase and sale agreement can be signed remotely without explanation of the terms, why does anyone need us?

It’s no wonder the public isn’t sure what value we add. We don’t always do a good job of showing it.

So, yes, it makes it easier than having to try to catch up with people when they have busy schedules, but we lose that important touch point.

What email platform do you use and why?

Gmail — I LOVE it and how it integrates with everything else I do so flawlessly.

What CMS platform do you use?

Contactually — again, love the flawless interface. It’s another place where Android users win over iPhone users.

I would like it to add a transaction management portion, but I understand the issues with that since each region has different rules, laws, standards, etc.

What calendar platform do you use?

Google Calendar — syncs with Contactually on tasks, and Gmail for email … and I can share it with anyone.

Do you use digital documents? Which and why?

Google Drive for documents. The collaboration element is incredible, and so far I haven’t found another platform that can match it.

Do you see a theme here???

For digital photo storage, I use Dropbox. I am really enjoying the Carousel feature for photos.

Do you have a camera? What kind?

Nikon Coolpix. The compact design paired with the zoom range make this great for traveling.

Do you have a laptop or tablet (or both)? What brand?

Samsung Chromebook and an iPad 2.

I’m a workhorse. So my laptops let me be fully functional all the time. The Chromebook is fabulous for tossing in my purse and going to a meeting or conference. The iPad works for presentations and other more visually based work.

Do you have a Nest thermostat?


Do you play games on your devices?


What websites do you visit daily and why?

  • Inman for the industry news.
  • Facebook to check in with my most valuable relationships.
  • Contactually to make connections with people not on Facebook.
  • NWMLS to keep track of our local inventory.

What are your top social media apps?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

What’s on your tech wish list?

A CRM with transaction management built in and some sort of cloning device so I can replicate myself ;).

What is your favorite technology, one you actually get joy out of using?

Google Hangouts has been incredible for my personal and professional relationships. We can have multiple people on a hangout together, and we can all see each other.

I can spend time with my nephew and sister, even though they live two hours away. I can spend time with my girlfriends even though we’re scattered across the continent.

Hangouts make me smile.

What’s your favorite “unplugged” activity?

I love walking with my husband and our dog. We do that together as often as possible, and the phone stays at home. I’m also a huge college football fan, and my technology stays in my purse so I can enjoy the atmosphere and energy around me.

When we vacation I limit my tech time to 10 minutes, three times per day. My vacation time is time to connect with my family and friends, and focus on them. I’m not so important that the rest of the world can’t live without me for a few days.

Are you a tech user who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email

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