Question: Have you seen the postcards most agents send out? BOOOR-ING! I’m pretty sure they make the prospects sleep-walk on their way back inside the
8 Things Only Old School Real Estate Agents Can Remember (and Fortunately Don’t Have to Deal With Nowadays!)
As much as people often fear and resist change, ultimately people come to adopt it, love it, and get used to even the biggest changes around them. In fact, it’s easy to forget how far things have come in such a short time, and take for granted how much better life is because of the changes.
While the real estate industry certainly changes a bit year after year, many agents in the field today haven’t been in the business long enough to see just how much has changed, and would be surprised to see what their colleagues dealt with years ago.
To give newer agents some perspective and appreciation, and the grizzled veterans a walk down memory lane, let’s take a look at 8 things agents used to have to deal with that are no longer an issue today:
1) “Sign here, press hard, the 3rd copy is yours…”
Years ago real estate contracts were done with carbon paper. The top sheet was the original, and then there were two other pages beneath that would become a copy for the agent’s file, and one for the client to keep.
Not only would the carbon paper be messy at times, but if a buyer or seller didn’t press hard enough, their signatures wouldn’t go all the way through to the copies, so agents had to not only show them where to sign, but also remind them to press down hard with the pen.
2) Faxes were too high-tech!
As much as people joke about how out of date fax machines are now, they were the newest tech not too many years ago. And back then fax machines were almost seen as too high-tech! Many people wouldn’t accept the signatures of a faxed document as a legal signature, so even though faxes made life easier to some degree, agents still had to deal with obtaining in-person signatures, and delivering those inked up docs to the appropriate parties.
Fast forward to today and people are “signing” things with a digital John Hancock, and it’s totally acceptable.
3) Wite-out was right on!
Whether an agent was preparing documents on a typewriter or with a pen, there was bound to be a mistake or something to edit on it. Can you imagine having to re-do an entire document because of one mistake? Or making a sloppy mess of it by crossing out the error with a pen?
Well before computers, deleting wasn’t an option, so Wite-out was a handy little invention that saved many agents from a lot more writing and wasted paper.
4) Booking time with a big book…
You don’t even have to be an agent to access pretty much any house listed for sale these days. Just hop on the computer and you can not only see what’s for sale, but also pictures of the inside of most houses.
Years ago only agents had access to the inventory, and it came in the form of a book published bi-weekly, with one grainy, black and white pic of the outside… if you were lucky. Some didn’t even have a picture!
But most offices only had a copy or two of the listing books, so agents had to share and wait their turn to use them. When an agent finally got their hands on it, they’d make copies of all the pages with listings they needed to show clients, so other anxiously awaiting agents could use it.
5) “Proofing” ads
Newspapers were the best way to spread the word about a listing or open house for many years. But in order to make sure your ad made it onto the classified page, you had to write the ad copy and get it into the newspaper by a certain day and time, or it wouldn’t be included.
Once they formatted it, agents were sent a copy to “proof” and make sure there were no errors. Then, on the day the newspaper came out, agents had to check and make sure the ad was in the paper and accurate.
Now agents rarely advertise in newspapers, but when they do, it can be done electronically which makes submitting and proofing their ad a lot quicker and easier.
6) Human lockboxes
If an agent wants to show a house that’s for sale, most likely the key to get inside will be in a “lockbox” hung on the front door, which they access by using a code, an app on their phone, or a keypad device specifically designed to open them.
But before lockboxes were invented, or widely used in the industry, an agent who wanted to show a particular listing had to go to the listing agent’s office to pick up the key, and then go back to their office to return it once they were done.
7) Polaroids were a game changer!
Digital cameras and smartphones make it easy to take as many pictures as you want, check to make sure they look good, and put them to use immediately. But before that, Polaroid pictures were a game changer for agents by making it possible to see if a picture came out OK with just a few shakes of their hand.
Before that, agents had to wait for pictures to be developed, which could take days or weeks, and then had to hope that the pictures weren’t blurry, or too dark. The wait time for pictures made it take longer to get marketing materials done for a new listing, and even held up appraisals once a house was under contract because pictures were required in the appraiser’s report.
8) “Let your fingers do the walking…”
Phone books were the best way to find someone’s phone number and address pre-Internet! They were also one of the best ways for an agent to advertise their services.
But just having your name and number wasn’t enough, you had to buy a full, half, or quarter-page ad to make sure people noticed you. And hopefully you were there to pick up the phone at your desk when they called… or had a fancy answering machine so they could leave you a message to get back to them.