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A real estate business should not only be about moving forward; it’s also important to give back. In the following interview, James R. Imhoff, chairman and CEO of First Weber Group, talks about standing out by giving back, as well as several other real estate best practices.

Imhoff_JimJames R. Imhoff
First Weber Group, a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®
Madison, Wis.

Region served: State of Wisconsin
Years in real estate: 43
Average time on market: The 2014 year-to-date average for Madison and Milwaukee is about 95 days, with Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac being 140 days, and Wausau and Stevens Point being 160 days.
Average sales price: In Wisconsin, our average sales price varies by region and population density. In Madison and Milwaukee, the 2014 year-to-date average sales price for single-family homes is approximately $194,000. In Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac, the average sales price approaches $150,000, and in Wausau and Stevens Point, it’s closer to $135,000.
Must-have tech tool: My iPad.
Favorite way to connect with clients: Our agents are our clients as defined by our strategic plan. I stay in touch via email using numerous distribution lists, and I also send personally branded alerts that cover timely and important topics.

What do you love most about working in real estate?
The successful development of new agents using our Catapult Online Training platform and integrating these agents into our state-of-the-art, technology-based marketing platform, Frontrunner. It’s great to see them become successful.

What are the biggest challenges for today’s consumers?
Today’s consumer is pushed and pulled so many ways into thinking that the home-buying or -selling process is simple. Given that, one of our biggest challenges is getting them to understand that it’s necessary to have a good agent by their side in order to bring the entire transaction process together. This includes marketing, financing, appraisals, inspections, title, legal, and more.

How is your team preparing to meet these challenges?
Even during the recession of 2008–2011, we invested untold dollars developing new technology to push and pull the consumer to our website, FirstWeber.com. We also continue to develop new agent technology tools. In fact, we recently rolled out an app that allows our agents to track all aspects of their clients, customers and transactions, while enabling them to complete an entirely paperless transaction.

What makes your company stand out?
Six years ago, we developed the First Weber Group Foundation to support our communities in Wisconsin. A self-funded foundation, First Weber corporate contributes its entire annual charity budget, agents contribute a minimum of $10 per side of each transaction, and our administrative staff contributes a minimum of $5 per pay period. There’s a Board of Directors consisting of shareholders and agents from around the state that reviews all requests and makes decisions on a quarterly basis. From inception, we’ve given over $1.4 million to Wisconsin charities.

How are you preparing your agents for the future of real estate?
While building our technology and integrating it into our “Catapult” training platform is very important, our focus on agent development is teaching them about true, face-to-face people skills and relationships, which will always be the high-water mark of a great REALTOR®.

For more information, visit www.firstweber.com/relocation.