"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us," --Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Profound words that seem to apply as much today as when they were penned a century and a half ago.
These words came to mind after speaking with a young couple doing their research in preparation to buy their first home. My industry is adapting to an emerging generation of home buyers that base their decisions on facts to a greater degree than their parents generation did. They don't make decisions, real estate or otherwise based solely on the encouraging words of a sales representative or on slick marketing campaigns. They go online and gather facts, they go on forums and cross reference the past experiences of their piers. They demand to know.
My clients this past weekend were curious about a house in a particular area and had noticed sold signs on three other similar properties in the area. They understandably wanted to know what those homes sold for and were taken aback when I informed them I could not legally tell them what each particular home sold for because of federal privacy regulations that have come into effect over the past few years.
Silly as it sounded, I told them the best I could do without jeopardizing my real estate license would be to give them three numbers that represented the values but I could not match them to the individual houses.
In the age of technology and easy access to information that can benefit us, particularly to a generation that knows how to put it to good use we seem to be moving in the opposite direction by limiting access in the interest of protecting information. More and more rules are set in consideration of the lowest common denominator and the worst case scenario is allowed to stifle progress for the rest of us.
As someone a little smarter than me once said, "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction". Earlier that same day I had spoken with our police chief about the growing number of government required forms we must have buyers and sellers fill out when a home is listed or an offer presented, and ours is not the only industry where this is happening. Millions of documents each day are now being generated with people's bank information, drivers licenses, social security numbers etc.
This is a government response to the growing incidence of identity theft. The same government who believed that if the legally owned rifles of farmers and hunters are documented in a registry this is a reasonable effort against inner city gang shootings and robberies that typically involve illegal handguns and knives - another topic our police chief has some thoughts on. My comment/question to him was how is your job easier when there are hundreds, maybe thousands of office buildings around town now housing file cabinets and bankers boxes overflowing with these government forms that contain peoples personal protected information?
"You tell me" was his response.
I guess my point is we have a new generation with different expectations and mindsets than those of us who continue, for now anyway, to set the policy for all of us. I wonder, through their eyes how it looks that we are in the midst of spending over one billion dollars on among other things, chain length razor fencing and security training in preparation for this month's G8 and G20 meetings happening in Toronto an hour south of here and Huntsville an hour to the north of Barrie.
Here in the middle hundreds upon hundreds of vehicles that have curiously been stock piling in the parking lots surrounding a vacant local factory building for the use of our world leaders and their entourages when they arrive later in June. Billions of additional dollars will be spent flying people from around the globe to sit in the same rooms for a few hours of meetings and glad handing where two of the main topics will be........wait for it......... fiscal and environmental responsibility.
I am sure milestones will be be crossed and new ones set in place though I wonder if any of them are familiar with Skype or facebook? Just saying is all.