Real Estate the Old Fashioned Way - Turn OFF the GPS!

Education & Training with Sell with Soul

To continue this FUN discussion of how real estate agents worked back in the age of the dinosaur, let's talk today about the GPS... or lack thereof. 

We didn't have one. We didn't even have Mapquest. Nope, the best we had was the handy-dandy Pierson Guide which was a big book of maps for the Denver Metropolitan area, divided into 270-some inter-related pages. If you didn't know how to get from place to place, you referred to your Pierson Guide, figured out which page was relevent and planned your route. 

Which, as you can imagine, is difficult, not to mention dangerous to do while driving (perhaps this was the 1990's version of texting and driving). Yeah, I did it. But perhaps worse than being difficult and dangerous, it was also kind of embarrassing when you have clients in your car! I mean, you're a real estate agent! You should know your way around town! Right??


Well, along comes the GPS which makes the Pierson Guide obsolete. Whew! 

Not so fast. 

One of the benefits of not having a GPS was that it put pressure on real estate agents to actually be able to navigate their way around town, especially with buyers in the car... or risk looking like an idiot (or worse). Compare the credibility factor of an agent who is constantly pulling over to look back at her map versus one who effortlessly drives from property to property, making intelligent conversation about the various parks, shops and landmarks as they pass by. 

Now, sure, taking instruction from the GPS isn't quite as disruptive as pulling over, but it still gives the clear impression that the agent doesn't know her market all that well. 

But there's more! When you don't rely on your GPS, you are forced to develop a mental picture of your town - how it lays out, how the parks, shopping centers, major highways and byways relate to each other. To this day, I can draw a fairly accurate picture of the City and County of Denver, placing all neighborhoods, major cross streets, parks and shopping districts. I understand how the neighborhoods, highways, attractions and commercial districts relate to each other geographically which gave me tremendous credibility and confidence when talking with buyers about their location preferences and needs.

So, the moral of the story... if you do rely on your GPS when showing buyers, try to, well, not do that. For a month. TURN IT OFF and force yourself to get around town the Old Fashioned Way! 

Real Estate the Old Fashioned Way - the Series
A Series with Soul
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The Keeper of the MLS  

Turn OFF the GPS 

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Comments (22)

Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Estate Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

That is never going to happen.  The city I work in has 1 Million people. I know many of the areas well ... but not all like the back of my hand. Thankfully, my clients don't expect me to navigate a tour without GPS. In fact, my clients typically are holding their cell phones navigating their self.  I love the spirit of this post Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn ... however my GPS is ON.

May 27, 2016 01:15 AM
Reputable Realty - Apple Valley, CA
...Marketing your home like no one else will.

We have twisty curvey, change nad stop strrets, nothing is on a grid.  You'd better know the major cross town streets or you won't get anywhere. But I use it even a couple miles from my house because of the strange way the streets go.

May 27, 2016 08:39 AM
Gary Bellinger
EXIT® Realty Partners - Southbridge, MA
Esq., REALTOR® - Retired

I've never been able to get street names to stick in my head so when I'm out and about on personal errands, I find my way around mostly by landmarks. For real estate trips, however, my GPS is indispensable. I work in surrounding towns as well as my own and honestly, I just don't know them by street names. An interesting side effect of the GPS is that I'm starting to remember some of those street names.

May 28, 2016 12:16 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Jennifer- I was fortunate to drive around with a seasoned agent the one year that I was an agent (30 years ago.)  She not only knew the streets but pointed out what a certain home sold for and whether or not it had been remodeled.  When I travel somewhere, I use my GPS but also consult a map before I leave so  I can picture it in my head.  

May 28, 2016 09:48 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign


                    Thank you Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn for my ah-ha moment. 

May 28, 2016 11:32 AM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Thanks for your comments, even the dissenting ones! I didn't think this particular concept would be popular, lol.

However, think about this.... if you didn't have the GPS (which until relatively recently, you would not have), how would you navigate around your town? Surely... surely... real estate agents managed to get from home to home back in the olden days before the GPS... right? HOW on earth did we do it? 


May 28, 2016 08:49 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good morning Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn ,

I know NW Austin that I service like the back of my hand. I do not use my GPS and agree with you..if you know the streets, points of interest, etc. you have some great talking points that will definitely put you ahead of your competition. So glad I saw your post on Kathy Streib's post this morning on her "Ah-ha" moments for the week!

May 28, 2016 10:23 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

I use my gps almost everywhere I go....even places I actually know how to get to. I'm so hooked.  

Great advice to go the old fashioned route, because I have become far too dependent on it.

May 29, 2016 01:25 AM
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I can see why Kathy chose to include your post in her weekly wrap up...great job!

May 29, 2016 01:59 AM
Kristen Correa, Broker
Kristen Correa Real Estate & Reedy Creek Realty Services - Keller, TX
I love coffee & real estate. I am out of coffee!

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. DRIVE! I study for a while before I put a buyer in the car to go to more than 3 houses. Study so I know it turn by turn and can just enjoy the company in my car without difficult turn by turn thought or even worse, constantly turning around! Such a good pro when you know where you're going.

May 29, 2016 02:10 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

First there are no buyers in my car. I  drive a GPS that happens to have a car attached.  GPS is always on. I would probably change careers or get a driver. I have been helping a friend in need and driving her car without GPS. It is not something I would choose.

May 29, 2016 08:13 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Well this certainly takes one back to the time of planning a tour by using a map!

I know the major areas I service quite well and don't need a GPS. But there are times I do use it and I have no regrets about it - better that than getting lost. Most of the time I don't have buyers in the car so it's a non-issue

May 29, 2016 10:18 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jennifer, I remember right after I added a Maryland license.  I had to actually do a dry run the day before a showing outside of my own DC backyard!  And I can remember after about six houses, my brain would just fizzle when it came to reading my map book!  

I looooove my GPS!  But I still like to be able to get around without it.

May 29, 2016 11:55 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

I have a atlas of SF Bay area so in case gps fails I have something printed to go by.  Sometime a misspelling can cause the confusion.

As for Apple map it is the most confusing map I have come acrosss. I use Waze....

Thanks for posting.

May 29, 2016 12:40 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

I still carry a book of maps for my area but I haven't used it in a long time. The GPS really is helpful since I cover an area that is 840 square miles and it's impossible to know every street. But in my own town, I can find mostly everything without the GPS.

May 29, 2016 09:08 PM
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

I don't sell real estate anymore but I'm pretty sure that if I did, I would still preview before showing and would almost certainly drive my route ahead of time like I did in the olden days... 

May 29, 2016 10:14 PM
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

I love my GPS and wish I would have bought it sooner.  I'm not a Thomas Guide, or atlas.  I know exactly where I am in my town, but each street . . . no way possible.  Plus, since I tour 10-12 properties during one outing, I've never been from that house to the next . . . no bee line established.  While I know where am, I find it a lot less stressful for me when I with client and work to have GPS take me, easily, from Point A to Point B.  

May 30, 2016 03:39 AM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn - now got to admit, I 'override' GPS direction at times because I know a better route that what is programmed in that device. Seriously.

May 30, 2016 04:19 PM
Kevin J. May
Florida Supreme Realty - Hobe Sound, FL
Serving the Treasure & Paradise Coasts of Florida

I cannot use a GPS JAH, I know what the simple calculator did to my math skills. Here via Kathy!

May 31, 2016 12:35 AM
John Martelotti
KW Staten Island - Staten Island, NY
Your Staten Island, NY Real Estate Resouce!

This is another great piece of advice that, I must admit, I do not as much s when I first started. I am in the busines 14 years and remeber the caravans eah week to let you see and touch the new inventory. I ca't remember the last caravan we had here, but it was years ago.

Prviewing properties that can help us sell more homes can't be a bad thing.

Oct 10, 2016 03:54 AM