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What happens when you "Ask Willy Anything?"

December 20, 2023

What happens when you "Ask Willy Anything?"

Willy Walker

CEO of Walker & Dunlop

In a nod to audience requests, Willy Walker switched things up a bit in a recent Walker Webcast and answered audience questions.

In a nod to audience requests, I switched things up a bit in a recent Walker Webcast. My good friend Danny Gabriel assumed my typical role as the interviewer and asked me some of the most common audience questions. Danny is the CEO of ColRich, a real estate, construction, and investment firm, and he also sits on the board of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), where he has been a prominent fundraiser for years.

What makes a real estate company successful?

I get to work with many real estate companies and “see what’s under the hood,” not just what’s portrayed to the public. So, a lot of people want to know what traits I see in successful real estate companies. Believe it or not, one of the most common traits I see in successful real estate companies (and any other type of company) is their five-year plan. They’re not just reacting to what is going on in the market from day to day. They have a solid overview of where they are today and where they want to be each year for the next five years.  

The most successful real estate companies—companies that generate enormous amounts of wealth for families and/or clients-–typically understand the tax code as well as they understand real estate. They are able to use the complexities of the tax code to their advantage and pay as little tax as possible on their gains. These companies also typically rarely sell their assets.  Instead, they refinance them.  

How does immigration impact the labor shortage?

This country is facing a tremendous labor shortage problem. Every company is desperate to hire talented employees at almost every level. We have a very obvious source of employees that almost everyone is ignoring—immigrants. I believe that we should seal our borders to prevent illegal immigration and drastically increase the number of legal immigrants we take in each year. Illegal immigration is not the answer. Instead, we should bring people into the country legally so they can pay taxes, work on the books, earn a better living, and help us solve our labor shortage.  

How will AI affect the labor shortage?

While many think AI will help close this gap in labor, I don’t think it will because we will always find a way to create new jobs or industries. When Excel first came out, everyone thought it would take jobs from financial analysts because they no longer needed to do excruciating calculations by hand. However, the results are in, and the number of jobs in the finance sector has ballooned since the advent of Excel. Additionally, the data analytics sector has exploded in size, primarily due to the fact that data is so easy to manipulate and use now. I think we can expect that AI will follow the same pattern.

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