It was 1994, gas was $1.09, Tonya Harding won the figure skating championship after attacking Nancy Kerrigan, interest rates were 8.5%, and I was just starting my career in real estate. Without having any idea of what I was doing, I walked into my first sales meeting at the beautiful Manor House in the village of Skippack, PA. With my new briefcase in hand, I find a seat in the conference room. My broker starts the meeting by announcing that the FBI was coming in to seize all of the files in the office!
As I looked into my empty briefcase, I figured I was safe! Not the typical way to start a real estate career, but that was my experience. Turns out, a real estate agent was in cahoots with a bunch of other people creating fake transactions and actually funding them with real mortgages! We will leave that for another time…
So there I was, in beautiful Skippack Village, a licensed Realtor, and armed with business cards and my MLS book subscription. That’s right folks, they were still printing this huge monthly book, with all the information for every listing on the market, ONCE a MONTH! Not only that, but there were multiple real estate boards, so there were multiple MLS territories, and multiple books! We started getting a bit more tech savvy when we were able to dial-up into the MLS system on the 9600 baud modem, and view the information on our CRT monitor, printing on a dot-matrix printer.
Buyer Agency was a brand new concept. Until then, each and every real estate agent was working for the seller and their best interests. Even when your customer was the buyer, your job was to work for the seller. Amazing, huh?
Nowadays, we can get all the information we need, right in the palm of our hand. Laptops, tablets, smart phones, 3G, 4G, WIFI, they have all changed the way we do business, and more importantly, it has changed the way we live!
I hear a great deal of “experienced” agents complaining that they cannot keep up with the technology, they are lost, they don’t like change. I can understand. Real estate agents used to have what everyone buying or selling a home needed, the private Multiple Listing System(MLS). Now, with Internet Data Exchange(IDX), the MLS has allowed all homes available to be shared on real estate websites, for a fee of course. This upsets many agents to see their listings on someone else’s website.
However, technology has been able to benefit the consumer, and isn’t that what is most important? Engaging in social media, you can stay in contact with clients on so many levels. See what they are doing on Twitter, recommend businesses on Linked-In, watch their kids grow up on Facebook. Text messaging allows for instant contact, email gets the word out cheaper and faster than snail mail.
Keeping up with the changes little by little, instead of just avoiding it until its time to play catch-up, is not how to go about change. I will admit, I am still learning more and more each day. But every new piece of technology that I have implemented has brought great returns in both time savings and better customer service. We’ve come a long way baby, and there is much more to come!