What Was Real Estate Like in 1980? If you weren’t in the business in the early 80’s then you have no idea how much it has changed, gotten more complicated and even better with time. By looking at the past and the way business was conducted way back in 1980, you will appreciate what you have now and all the tools and technology that dominate our real estate world.
What Was Real Estate Like in 1980?
Office- Agents were all put in one big room called a bullpen; private offices were not an option.
Desk- It was a small salesman desk about 18” by 36”. If you were really lucky, you didn’t have to share it.
Telephone- It was the large clunky kind with a rotary dial that took up a third of the desktop space. No voicemail or call forwarding features were available.
Dress code- Men wore suits and ties. Ladies wore business suits, pantsuits or dresses and always wore pantyhose and heels.
Mobile phones- We used two-way radios to communicate with the office or other cars. The mobile phone came into play in the early 80’s but it was a huge box mounted in the trunk of the car and only a very few agents had or could even afford one.
Customer Database-3x5 inch card file system.
MLS-Book was printed on newsprint, published bi-weekly in black and white. This is how you found out about other company’s inventory.
Photos- You used an instamatic camera or used a camera with film and rushed to get your photos developed in 3 days so you could turn it in to MLS with your new listing to make the next publication.
Keys and Lockboxes- No lockboxes because every company had keys for you to pick up and return to their offices. Sometimes it would take a half a day to pick up and return all the keys from your showings.
In-House Listings-We were paid a premium to sell in-house listings and to help promote these, on Monday mornings we would caravan and see every one of the new company listings.
Sales Meeting-Every Monday morning we would meet to discuss what we had done for the last week and afterwards go tour our listings. Then we would go to lunch together then hurry back to the office to call our clients to let them know about the new listings we had just seen.
Communication with sellers and buyers- We would telephone from the office, home or pay phone (we kept plenty of dimes in our cars) or we would go see them in person. Mail worked well too and if things went well they would receive it in less than 5 days.
Walk-ins- These happened often and buyers and sellers regularly called the office to ask for an agent to come help them.
Transportation- Buyers always rode with the agent, wore no seat belts and smoked in our cars.
Agency-We all represented the seller as seller’s agent or subagent to the seller. No buyer’s agents.
Advertising-Newspaper advertising was a must. Homes magazines were just hitting the scene.
Paperwork-Every good office had a typewriter and plenty of carbon paper to write listings and sales contracts.
Sale Contract-One legal size page with no addendums needed.
Listing Contract-One legal size page but you could use the back of the page for additional details if you needed it.
Average Sales Price- $35,000 in Clarksville, TN.
Copy machines, fax machines, computers- One copy machine in the whole company. No faxes and no computers.
Signs-Looked much the same as today but no flyer boxes were used. We had no name riders just the company phone number.
Closings-Many were cash sales, assumptions or land contracts and closed in the real estate office. No escrow or title companies were used. We did close at the banks though.
Commission Checks-We had to wait until the next sales meeting day to get our commission checks and sometimes wait an entire week.
So What Was Real Estate Like in 1980? It was a fun, challenging business just like today, but at a much slower pace because everything took so much longer and was more difficult to do. Aren't you glad we have all the technology of today?