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This year, my real estate license will celebrate it's 30th birthday, and I've been thinking about how listing and selling homes is so very different than it used to be. When I started out, this is what we had to put up with:
The Multiple Listing Service had just switched over from "listing books", which were printed and distributed to each office once a week, to a "computerized" system. There was a terminal that printed out the inventory information on that heat sensitive paper at the rate of about 30-words per minute. And there were two terminals for 40 agents to share.
There was no such thing as a virtual tour. If you wanted to know what a listing looked like, you had to go preview it.
Lock boxes were not in general use. When we showed or previewed property, we had to go from one office to the next to pick up keys, and after someone showed one of our listings, we had to track them down and hound them until they returned those keys
Phones were still stupid. There were no cell phones, so if we needed to make a call when on the road, it was all about finding phone booths that hadn't been vandalized.
When we wanted to track someone down, we had to find them connected to a real telephone, either at home or office, or hope they called back when we were at a phone.
At the office, there was a receptionist who took messages on little pink slips of paper and put them into our office mailboxes.
If someone called at home, they could leave a tape recorded message on my FoneMate answering machine. Some agents used answering services that would take messages and read them back when we called in from a pay phone on the road.
None of these 45-page purchase and sales agreements! We had a three-page long boiler plate contract, with another page for a home inspection addendum.
Buyer brokerage was almost unheard of. Everyone, theoretically at least, represented the sellers.
Cameras used film, and there was no way to edit photos we took before paying a fortune to have the film developed.
Doing mailers was really interesting, and the only easy way was using line drawings, because photos didn't look great. Copying machines back in the day didn't print on card stock, so we'd have to cut and paste whatever we wanted to send and take it to a commercial printer.
The only way to communicate with people was by snail mail or telephone, and that would be a land line.
If the lender or title company needed copies of contracts or other documents, we'd have to physically take the copies to them or call a courier to do it for us.
There were no real estate "teams", and almost noone had any kind of assistant - licensed or otherwise.
Most agents worked for small to medium sized independent, locally owned firms, and there were relatively few franchises.
We didn't have any sort of electronic navigation system. We kept big old map books in our cars and had our clients navigate as we looked for addresses.
Of course, computers changed everything. So did buyer brokerage. But as I think about it, my iPhone is the one tool that has made the biggest difference in my day to day practice. There is an app for just about everything!
It not only connects me to buyers and friends no matter where I am, but it also gives me instant access to MRIS even on the road, takes high quality pictures, check email the instant it comes in, gives me access to any document in any transaction and allows me to forward it to anyone who needs it, and in a pinch, it's a reliable GPS. It just won't open lock boxes - yet. (But, hey! We have electronic lock boxes.) Oh! And it's tiny!
OK, this is like my dad talking about walking miles in the snow to get to school (it must have been before someone invented school buses), but we really do have it easy today.
Still, we need to remember that, even with all of our handy tools of the trade, it's still mostly about contact with people who need to sell or buy a home, and the idea is to use these tools to that end.
Real estate was then, and still is, a contact sport.
If you are planning a move to or from the Washington area, I can help. I am licensed in DC, Maryland and Virginia. Please email me at Housepat@mac.com or call 202-549-5167.
Pat Kennedy -- author of The Irreverent Guide to Real Estate -- gives you a look at life on the streets as a real estate broker in our nation's capital. And her blog is peppered with great advice combined with humor!
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.