Our Mission

Improving the real estate experience requires more than just tech. It starts at the brokerage level. A brokerage that supports and guides agents positively impacts the agent and client experiences and attracts like-minded agents.

Our mission is to help agents grow and succeed as independent real estate agents and to foster cooperation in the real estate culture by providing our agents and their colleagues with unique, high-quality technology services and by supporting our agents with professional, friendly, and helpful staff.

Our Approach

At van Winkle Group, our mantra is simple: “Word Hard. Be Nice.” There are many challenging aspects of the real estate industry, and we feel strongly that these two rules can conquer any obstacle.

 

Matt van Winkle entered real estate in 2009 after graduating from Seattle University School of Law. His first brokerage, RE/MAX On the Lake, opened in 2011 and grew to 85 agents in three years. OTL aims to help every agent reach their goals, whether they produce $2 million a year or $20 million. With one-on-one business development consulting and monthly training meetings, agents find the guidance and support they need. Our agents are a highly-motivated group – they’re collaborative and helpful; they share ideas and help each other out.

 

When agents join OTL, their production increases an average of 40% in the first year. Experienced $5 million dollar producers are mentored to become $10 million dollar producers. We value each agent’s success equally, and as a result, highly-involved agents have seen their business double in two years.

 

Van Winkle Group also leads teams in technology development and consulting services. After meeting brokerage owners at various conventions, it became clear that collaboration is needed at the brokerage level, so van Winkle Consulting was created to connect brokers to business mentors. The tech wing of van Winkle Group develops transaction management software and other industry-related platforms.

 

Blog

Time Management Tip: Eliminate Tolerations

Time Management Tip: Eliminate Tolerations

Every day we wake up with a preset amount of cognitive ability. Use it wisely and you’ll have a very productive day; use it poorly and you’ll be exhausted by lunch. One of the easiest ways to help with your productivity is to eliminate the little time wasters and frustrations in your life, which we call Tolerations.

Tolerations are nagging issues that slowly zap energy. They cause stress, dissatisfaction, and distraction. Tolerations can been simple, such as: a messy desk, long lines at the store, purchases that need to be returned, a squeaky car door, or having to decide what’s for lunch every day. Individually the solutions are easy, but when piled up they can be overwhelming.

For example: I listen to financial podcasts on the way to work. I used to have a detached garage, so each day I’d have to either remember to carry my iPod into the house at the end of the day with all my other stuff, or I’d have to make a second trip in the morning to grab the iPod, bring it inside, wait for the podcast to download, then take it back out to the car. One day, I decided to make a complete list of the tolerations in my morning routine and the iPod was the first item on the list. I found a Wi-Fi extender that I already owned and plugged it into my garage. From that point on I had Internet in my garage and the iPod automatically synced. The solution took 10 minutes and solved the problem forever. I no longer had to start my mornings with frustration.

As I read more about productivity, efficiency, and tolerations, I’ve found that the solution is usually the same. It’s a simple process that I learned in 2008 from one of the most memorable SNL clips I’ve ever seen:

Step One: Identify the problem.

Step Two: FIX IT!

Repeat as necessary until it’s all fixed.

Start by identifying tolerations in your life, big and small. Don’t edit based on what you think you can fix, as you may be surprised with the solutions you come up with later. Continually add to the list for a full week. Once you have your list, devote three hours on a Saturday to come up with solutions and fix all the little things that have been bugging you. If you can’t get rid of a Toleration completely, look for ways to minimize or avoid. For example you can’t help the lines at the store, but you can plan your grocery trip to be during a low-traffic time, such as first thing in the morning or after 8PM at night.

Like the noise you didn’t know was there until it’s turned off, tolerations can drive you crazy even if you don’t realize it. Take one week to eliminate them from your life and watch your productivity (and your happiness) rise.

 

How We Went Paperless and Clean

Five Steps to Making Your Business Paperless

Five Steps to Making Your Business Paperless

Five Steps to Making Your Business Paperless

Paperless is more than a buzzword. If you are still managing your real estate business using physical files, you are wasting money. Not only are you wasting it on physical costs like paper, ink, and storage, you are wasting time that could be spent expanding your business. When done right, a paperless system will not only save you time and money, it may just preserve your sanity.

Step One: Establish a Remote Backup

Hard drives are like pet goldfish – you know they are going to die at some point, you just don’t know when. And like the fish, you’ll probably never see it coming. This is why the first step in going digital is establishing a remote backup system. Many people think it’s enough to backup to an external hard drive, but that won’t help if the building burns down. Some companies set up a hard drive at a second location and schedule regular manual backups, but the ideal solution is to get into the cloud.

For example, at RE/MAX On the Lake we use Dropbox for Business to manage shared files for the office. Dropbox stores files both on the individual computers as well as on the secure Dropbox servers, meaning you have the security of professional servers while still being able to access your files when you’re offline.

For collaborative documents, we also use Google Drive. Drive is perfect for documents that need to be referenced and updated often, such as tracking sheets for keyboxes and signs. Dropbox and Drive are just two of the many programs available for consumers and businesses. Look into your options and get your backups set up before you start putting all your eggs into one digital basket.

Step Two: Create a Naming System

A good file naming system is key to reaping the benefits of a paperless system. Files that are named well are easy to identify, easy to sort, and easy to search for. If someone sends you a PDF with a name like “HP789SCAN201311115,” rename it immediately. We like to put the client, document type, and status right in the filename so we can easily distinguish between old and new files, such as “Murray – Offer – Unsigned.” The most important thing about your system is that you make it simple enough for you to apply it to every document without thinking. Don’t make a system so complicated you can’t remember how it works.

Step Three: Become a PDF Master

You need good software and you need to know how to use it. You should be able to:

Rotate – for scanned documents that upload sideways

Edit – fill in forms electronically and make changes to documents you receive

Crop – get rid of whitespace on poorly scanned documents

E-Sign – quickly add your own signature to any PDF

Flatten – ensure all changes you’ve made are permanent, and can’t be changed by others

If you’re on a Mac, Preview can do all of these things and comes for free with your computer. If you’re on a PC and your software can’t do these things, it may be time to upgrade to a better program, like Adobe Pro. If you already have good software but you never learned how to use all these features, it’s time to invest in your education. Forty minutes of help searches and practice now can save you hours or printing, scanning, and signing later on.

Step Four: Use E-Signatures

Too many agents assume it’s not worth it to go paperless because they’ll have to print out documents for signatures anyway. Wrong. Companies such as Docusign have made it easy for businesses to securely send documents for signature. The process is easy for both sender and receiver, and allows agents to get quick turn around on documents. This is especially helpful for out-of-state clients and late night emergencies.

Step Five: Keep it Clean

Just as physical papers always manage to clutter up your desk, digital papers will clutter up your computer. Make a point to keep your computer desktop clear, and get in the habit of deleting temporary files as soon as you’re done with them. If your digital system becomes a mess you will be less inclined to use it.

Meet the Team

Matt van Winkle

Matt van Winkle

Founder

Matt is the founder of RE/MAX On the Lake. In 3 years RE/MAX On the Lake has grown to 85 agents in the Greater Seattle area. Matt enjoys developing technology and helping agents develop and increase their business.

Maggie van Winkle

Maggie van Winkle

Technology Director

Maggie’s specialty is self-generated organization and proactive project management. She has helped brokerage owners and agents with business development, training, process oversight, and technology integration

Katrina Hamilton

Katrina Hamilton

Operations Director

Katrina has extensive experience consulting and training real estate agents and brokers on how to utilize technology to improve their businesses and their lives.

Anna Lyublin

Anna Lyublin

Executive Assistant

Anna can always be relied on to get things done quickly and efficiently. She manages and maintains schedules for the company and ensures that every detail is followed up on.

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Located in the Pacific Northwest, we currently have offices in Seattle, Bellevue, and Issaquah.