Silicon Valley real estate agent Robert Aldana is so wired he's, well, wireless.
The most time he spends hard wired to technology is during tapings of a twice-a-week 30-minute "Let's Talk Real Estate," a real estate talk show which he produces and anchors for the local community cable channel.
Otherwise, he's pretty much off the electronic grid, living a wireless life.
"The Internet is my office," says Aldana, a San Jose real estate agent who was recently appointed as a state director to the California Association of Realtors.
"I go through my day every day wireless in my home, my office, the coffee shop, my car, just about anywhere you can imagine. In fact, my business card does not even have an actual street address, it has my Web address.
Today's better educated home buyer and seller relies heavily upon Internet-based information and services and savvy real estate professionals who want to keep pace have made technological proficiency a necessary skill in their portfolio of experience.
It helps, says Aldana, to live and work in an area like San Jose, Calif. (Silicon Valley), which has become one of the nation's cities with the largest array of "hot spots," or locations where users can connect to the Internet via what's called WiFi or wireless 802.11b access.
Aldana says the payback for being connected in an unconnected sort of way is a form of connectedness that's otherwise unavailable.
"Wireless (equipment) has allowed me to work in a much more efficient manner. The expense that I have endured in becoming wireless does not even scratch the surface compared to the return it has given me. My business and my personal life has changed the way I go about my days and it will never be the same. My workday is extremely productive and taking time off in the evening and almost all weekends does not make me feel guilty because the time I do spend during my workday is time spent being productive and efficient," he says.
Aldana is such a real estate industry model in the use of technology you can almost see the 1s and 0s flashing in his retinae.
"I wake up using wireless. The first thing I do before I even brush my teeth is to push a button on my wireless PDA (personal digital assistant or hand held computer) to check email in the event that I may have received an important email overnight," says Aldana.
At day break, the go-everywhere PDA is a time saver. Instead of booting up the laptop or desktop Aldana can spend more time getting his 4th grade daughter Haley, 10, ready for school.
"I have to have breakfast and make breakfast for my daughter and pack her lunch. If something important comes in, I am aware of it and know ahead of time what my day may look like," he said.
His voice-activated OnStar Virtual Advisor aboard his Cadillac Escalade SUV allows him to check traffic, keep moving around slow downs (all too common in Silicon Valley) and hear his email while he's driving his daughter to school and heading out for his rounds.
"I get Lakers and Dodgers scores too," he says.
After dropping Haley off at school he stops into Starbucks for java and a "hot spot" (wireless connection) for his tablet PC and continued communicating with his clients.
"The tablet is so thin I can carry it like I would a magazine. I also have a wireless digital card (to boost the WiFi signal) I use when I'm not in a hot spot. It is a bit slower than the blazing speed of a hot spot so I only use it when needed," he says.
While on his cell phone, his tablet PC allows him to take notes by hand virtually eliminating the need for paper pads.
"Throughout my day, my wireless PDA checks my email and alerts me when I have a Web response (email sent from his Web site). There have been many times when I have responded to a Web submission from a prospect and they have told me, 'Wow, I am still on your Web site and just sent the information request.' I have received a Web submission and responded to it so quickly that it has allowed me to contact a hot buyer or seller right away and make the appointment right away. This alone has made me thousands of dollars and has paid for my wireless and technology tools a hundred times over," says Aldana.
While showing properties, Aldana's wirelessness allows him to perform on the spot comparative market analyses (CMAs) for properties buyers may be considering. He can also instantly retrieve property information about listings that may not be on his client's list of homes to visit.
For sellers, Aldana can snap digital photos and immediately post them on his Web site with listing information.
"I can put it on the Internet right from their kitchen table, complete with pictures if needed," he says.
Aldana's life of wireless is not all work.
"I don't have a newspaper subscription anymore. Any news that I want to know is right in front of me whenever I want. Movies? I can check theater listings instantly without having to sit and listen to a five-minute recording. And when I'm away from my daughter, I can send her an instant message on her cell phone to let her know I am thinking about her or just to say 'Hi'," he said.
Last year on five trips away Aldana was still connected -- without wires.
"While resting on the beach in Maui, I took 5 to 10 minutes per day to check my email to make sure all was well. While snow boarding in Tahoe I took a few minutes to check email to make sure my business was running smooth. While having breakfast with Mickey and Minnie we had the best time of our lives and my business never missed a beat. I had not told my clients I was going to be out of town." Aldana said.
"I am giving value to my clients. I've become a conduit of information. My clients don't need to go to the Internet for information. It's as if I've become their search engine," he added.