Jim Walberg never dreamed he would be in real estate long enough to help the millennial children of his clients find houses. But it’s happening regularly for the high profile agent, who works with his wife, Ann Marie Nugent, at The Bay Area Team, which they founded together in 2005 — they’re members of Pacific Union and Christie’s International.

  • If you are an agent who doesn't enjoy the tech side of the business, remember the people side of tech is the most important.
  • Your phone is your most important piece of tech.
  • There are plenty of people you can hire to help with social media but don't pass on your social media voice to someone else.

Jim Walberg never dreamed he would be in real estate long enough to help the millennial children of his clients find houses.

But it’s happening regularly for the high profile agent, who works with his wife, Ann Marie Nugent, at The Bay Area Team, which they founded together in 2005 — they’re members of Pacific Union and Christie’s International.

Ann Marie Nugent and Jim Walberg

Ann Marie Nugent and Jim Walberg

Walberg concentrates on the Orinda to Livermore corridor in the East Bay, while Nugent is based in the San Francisco office, and both are pleased to provide “the kids” with the advice they need.

His young buyers are likely to find Walberg as tech-savvy as they are — up on all the latest real estate tools to help them — as well as equipped with wise, strategic advice about how to compete in a multiple-offer situation.

A well known national and international speaker, Walberg likes to share his experiences. He is used to talking to agents who are not as excited by tech as he is.

As he puts it: “Realtors from across the country are at various levels of understanding of how to effectively use tech tools to maximize their social media strategies.”

Here’s his advice for tech-phobic agents on how to get over their fears.

Don’t let tech add to your stress

Feel bad about your lack of engagement with tech? If you are still doing well, don’t agonize over it, is Walberg’s advice.

​“Sometimes t​here is enough stress and strain  in our professional​ worlds that being concerned about keeping up with the latest greatest technology strategies can be daunting,” he said. “It will always be much more effective if we keep a focus on the ‘people’ strategies.

“The highest tech we have is our cell ​phone,” he added. “Making phone calls to our clients and sphere of influence​ is sometimes much​ more important than making a t​weet or posting on Facebook.”

Don’t let tech be a distraction

At the other end of the spectrum, a non-stop focus on technology can become a “time suck,” warned Walberg.

It can be a daily distraction that leads professionals to think they are working hard or being productive — when in reality, they have not spoken to one client that day voice-to-voice, he said.

If all you are doing is chasing down the latest gadget or the latest and greatest app, agents will probably will miss the greatest opportunity of all, said the agent: “A professional relationship with another person, who will also likely become a dear friend.”

If you want to have a digital presence but technology is not your thing, there are some excellent services that can be hired, he added.

Make sure it’s your voice on social media posts

Whatever you outsource, make sure the “voice” people hear in social media posts is still yours, advised Walberg.

The problem with outsourcing social media posts — especially if you already have any kind of public profile — is that people will know if it’s you or not, he warned.

“I am aware ​of a R​ealtor in our community who I know for sure has somebody else managing their social media postings for them,” he said.​ “The reason I know this is because I do​ not recognize them at all from​ the comments that are posted for them.”

Often having an outside service managing your social media postings leads to an agent having a ​”one-dimensional public self” instead of ​the “three-dimensional authentic person” that their friends and colleagues actually know, said Walberg.

There are times when social media activity can be outsourced without damaging your brand.

“We use VoiceStorm, a social media sharing platform that is provided to us by Pacific Union, for many of our weekly postings on our business page of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter,” he said.

It is an aggregator of a variety of real-estate-related articles, both local and national.​

“We have found it to be effective in filling in postings between our personal postings on our business sites,” said Walberg.

Technology can lead to new, deep relationships

What Walberg especially likes about technology is the new relationships it has created.

“Up until 2010, my belief was that to have a personal relationship that was respectful, trusting and long-lasting, it would require me to be face-to-face with someone,” he said.

“Technology and social media has completely blown up that past belief system. There are now hundreds of real estate professionals across the country and the globe that I have never personally met. However, we share a deeply respectful and trusting professional connection. I love building relationships and finding ways to contribute to them in meaningful ways.”

Today’s technology has allowed Walberg to put himself in front of a much larger audience — and he’s pragmatic. Part of social media’s appeal for him is profitability.

“It puts us in opportunity’s way every day,” he said. “For example, the past five years we have closed 53 escrows from Facebook referrals alone.”

His team’s on-market and off-market production for 2015 was almost $50 million in home sales.

Find inspiration from people who are adept on social media

Real estate agents who are not excited by tech may just need some inspiration.

Walberg said he goes to some key commentators active on social media for ideas and new approaches. He said he enjoys reading Jeff Turner, president of RealSatisfied — for a hyperlocal point of view, he goes to North Berkeley expert Ira Serkes, another member of Pacific Union/Christie’s International.

“His passion is photography and he has taken that and created a really great following of people who are interested in what he’s doing in a hyperlocal way,” said Walberg.

Walberg also reads Seth Godin’s blog every morning.

“I love his crazy brain,” said Walberg. “He’s one of the great thought leaders in the business.”

Mike Mueller, known for his website AreWeConnected.com is “just brilliant” on the world of social media, said Walberg.

Building your company profile through social media makes it more likely to be a saleable asset

Another argument for taking more control of your social media is that building your business profile is good for its future sale.

Walberg said the reason he and Nugent chose The Bay Area Team as their company name was for a sale in the future.

“If we are the Jim Walberg Team or the Ann Marie Nugent Team, it would not be saleable — so many of the teams don’t think about that,” he said

“We especially chose that name in order to give us an exit strategy.

“It’s then just a matter of finding the talent that would give the business the ability to carry on,” added Walberg, who describes himself as a “talent scout” for his team of five.

But the fundamentals remain the same, he said.

“The only way for us to build a retirement income from our real estate practice is to get the people part of it right. It is all about the relationships we have, and expanding them with our audience as the place to start.

“If we get the people part right, the rest of our personal and professional objectives will work out just fine.”

Email Gill South

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