Driving sales home: Alumnus uses IT in real estate business

December 11, 2012

As a high school student in the seaside city of Carlsbad, California in the mid-1990s, Tyson Lund was a computer geek in a school full of surfer dudes. Lund had been infatuated with computers since the days of MS-DOS and floppy disks. None of his friends knew much about computers, so he was their go-to guy when they needed tech support.

He also helped with his parent’s real estate business, making fliers of homes for sale with a scanner – a relatively new technology at the time. Lund even helped set up a Web page for the business, something that was just starting to become a popular – and necessary – marketing tool.

“I was the in-house computer geek for my family,” Lund says.

But it wasn’t until he enrolled in a computer class at a local community college that he realized that computers would eventually play a major role in his career, whatever that might be.

“I thought, ‘This is so cool,’” recalls Lund, a Computer Information Systems (CIS) 2002 graduate. “I decided that whatever I ended up doing, I wanted computers to be involved.”

It took Lund a while to figure out exactly what his career would be, but today, as one of the more successful real estate professionals in San Diego County, he credits his CIS coursework at the W. P. Carey School with giving him a distinct advantage over his competition.

“It helped me achieve a high level of success in a short time after graduating during what was a tough job market for CIS graduates,” he says. “The C++, Java and database management courses gave me an edge in my business because most of my competitors didn’t understand or utilize IT to its full potential.”

The right combination

ASU wasn’t Lund’s first choice for college, even though he was no stranger to the school – both his father (MBA, 1971) and his brother (Finance, 2001) graduated from the business school. He was leaning toward either UCLA or the University of Southern California, but he discovered that neither offered what he was looking for – a major combining computers and business. In fact, most universities offered only minors in computer studies or linked such programs to engineering degrees.

“My parents are entrepreneurs, and they told me that I didn’t want to be pigeonholed as an engineer,” Lund says.

During his years at the W. P. Carey School, Lund still wasn’t sure exactly what he would do with the knowledge he was gaining about CIS. His parents had always been in sales, so he thought that maybe he could do something involving computers and sales.

But when he met with IBM representatives during a campus job fair, all they were offering was programming jobs. When Lund asked them about sales positions, they told him that wasn’t what they were looking for.

When he landed a summer job with a computer company that developed early versions of virtual home tours for real estate agents, Lund was able to draw on his knowledge of PowerPoint, which he learned at ASU. That would foreshadow his future career in real estate.

Customizing information

However, by the time Lund graduated in 2002, the tech bubble had burst and computer-related jobs were few and far between.

“In 2000, we were told that when we graduated, we would receive multiple job offers with salaries of $60,000 a year,” Lund says. “But in 2002, we were told to stay in school and get a graduate degree.”

Lund decided to return to Carlsbad after graduation, where he accepted a job with a headhunter firm. “For the first couple of months out of college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” he says. “Then I thought, ‘I know real estate. Maybe I can make more money doing that.’”

At the end of 2002, Lund started working as a real estate agent at Prudential, but found that selling houses wasn’t as easy as it looked. It often took new agents several months to land their first sale. At about that time the Multiple Listing Service database, used by real estate agents to list homes for sale, had become available, but it wasn’t very user-friendly.

Lund, who had learned how to program databases in his CIS classes, understood immediately how the MLS information was organized. He downloaded it into an Excel spreadsheet and created a custom code to crunch the data and track trends.

“In my business classes I learned about supply and demand, and I understood market time,” Lund says. “I started tracking inventory trends and sharing knowledge with my clients about market trends. I started to learn real quickly. I got a lot of knowledge early, instead of the normal five- to six-year learning curve.”

Lund, who now works in his family’s real estate company, The Lund Team, Inc., also utilized what he learned about marketing at W. P. Carey. He started customizing information for each client, and his company was one of the first with a website where people could search for properties by the communities where they were interested in living, which led to increased business.

“I learned that in a down market you have to increase your marketing budget,” Lund says. “And you have to have a clear, consistent message that defines exactly what you want to say.”

Foundation for success

In 2004, Lund generated a marketing coup when he met with the CEO of the Carlsbad Business Journal and offered to write a monthly real estate article focusing on the local market. His idea was accepted, and since then Lund’s articles analyzing the real estate market have been featured every month in the Journal, which is published by the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce.His latest article, published in November, warned of short sale scams.

“That’s been a key to my business,” he says.

While he credits his business courses with giving him the foundation on which to build a successful real estate career, Lund says classes he took in film studies at ASU also played a role. He won a student film award and earned extra money producing promotional films for fraternities and sororities.

He used those skills to design a company infomercial and YouTube marketing videos to promote properties.

Lund, who is now 32 and married with two children, was named one of the “30 Under 30” in 2007 by Realtor Magazine, published by the National Association of Realtors. The Lund Team is rated among the top 10 San Diego County real estate groups by number of sales and volume, with average annual sales of $65 million. Lund personally averages $15 million in annual sales.

“What I thought was so great about ASU was that it helped me create a foundation,” Lund says. “I had always thought that you went to college and learned what you needed for a specific job, that they made you into a round peg so you would fit into a round hole. But it helped me learn how to break down problems and find solutions. It gave me a base to build on in my real estate career.

“I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t take the courses I did at ASU.”