I helped clean out a client’s home this past weekend as it is sold and the family needed all hands on deck to go through a lifetime’s worth of accumulation. Lo and behold, I found one of the old Multiple Listing Catalogs from our market area and the memories came flooding back! Let me explain what that was……
Not too many years ago (up until about the mid-1980’s) there were no computers, no Internet. A REALTOR®’s only tool to find homes that other companies had listed in the area was a large book, about a third the size of a phone book, with every listed home, categorized by location. It was limited to the local association’s market area such as Stark County, Carroll County, Massillon, Alliance, etc. Every dues-paying member of the association got one in the mail and when it came, the office was hushed with just the sound of turning pages. We frantically searched for anything that might match what our clients were looking for. By afternoon of that day, the phones were constantly busy, calls coming in and calls going out setting up appointments with the other agents and with our clients. We had no way to tell what kind of condition the home was in and had no interactive maps to see exactly where it was. So, along with the books, we had a HUGE Stark County map on the wall with push pins signifying our listings and potential homes to show! And there was no way to find out if it was still available without a phone call.
Then on Tuesdays (generally), we got in our cars and drove to the office’s new listings that week and physically walked through them! We routinely would put clients in our cars and drove them around to the potential listings to check out the areas, then made appointments for the ones they wanted to see and did it all again! It is not as common today for agents to transport clients due to car seat regulations, insurance requirements, and to put it bluntly, safety concerns. Once a contract was written, we got in our cars again to shuffle paperwork back and forth from one agency to another, and then do it all over again, driving to clients’ homes and other agencies when counter-offers were made! Looking back, one thought hits me……..the real estate industry burned up a LOT of gas!
Then along came the fax machine and the Internet! Today’s REALTORS® work just as hard for their clients, but in a much more focused capacity. Our Multiple Listing Service (MLS) range now encompasses counties as far north as Lake Erie and as far south as the Ohio River! It is common to see a home listed by a company fifty or more miles away from the home. And as a buyer’s agent, we sometimes drive 50 or more miles away to show that home.
The best part of our new technology is this……..we can put a client’s “wish list” in to the system and be notified immediately when a new listing hits the market that matches. And if the buyer has email (hopefully), they will also be notified immediately. With the utilization of this great tool, it is more crucial than ever to price the home correctly! Buyers are “net savy” and now also have the tools to comparison shop from their computers or smart phones. By the time they walk through the home, they’ve seen the disclosures, have seen the lot maps, know when it was last sold and also for how much. The Internet provides agents, buyers and sellers with more information than we ever thought possible such as septic and well records, lien information, tax values, flood plain maps, sheriff sale records, comparable values and even crime statistics for the neighborhood.
Our industry has been in the forefront of technology and one of the pioneers in using it to the best advantage of our clientele. We may not be burning as much gas, but we certainly can provide our clients with much more information than ever before! If you don’t have a REALTOR® marketing your home or helping you purchase one, you are most likely missing out by not reaching the best buyer for your home or finding the perfect one!
As appearing at The Canton Repository 2-12-16