It’s always interesting to venture out on a listing appointment these days to talk with people about selling their home. Particularly when it’s been awhile since they last sold a home or tried to navigate through the rigors of the real estate process.
They often have a strong set of preconceptions in place. Assumptions about how selling a home is supposed to work. Those expectations usually reflect whatever their prior experience was in a very different marketplace, ten or twenty years ago. Almost another lifetime when it comes to real estate.
Part of the challenge lies in bridging the gap between what they knew then and what they don’t know now. A Realtor’s perspective changes daily. It updates itself automatically like the operating system on a computer. Sometimes updates are small tweaks that fix a few bugs. Other times they are huge shifts that rewrite a lot of the underlying software. Since the average person only has a chance to update their operating system once a decade, it often takes a while to download the whole program.
We’ve been talking about the “need for speed” and how it affects everyone and everything in real estate these days. How the hyper-connectivity of the internet ratchets-up the normal pace of buying and selling a home. Turning it into a high-stakes, high-speed (and sometimes high-anxiety) process that doesn’t leave much time to ponder the important questions.
What was real estate like before tech took over? Let’s rewind the clock to 1995. Look at how the slow motion process of bringing a new home onto the market unfolded back in the dark ages. When there was no internet, digital photography, Zillow, mobile apps,google earth or even public access to the MLS!
It went something like this: First there was the contract with the Seller. Then we delivered an information sheet to the Board of Realtors by hand or fax (yes, we had fax machines in 1995). The Board collected the info and published a new MLS book every two weeks. That book was the Bible. It contained all the answers – new listings, price reductions, pending sales. Every Agent got a copy but prospective Buyers didn’t see any new information until their Agent deigned to share it with them.
New listings got one grainy black and white photo published in the book. Pictures were taken by the MLS photographer who drove by and took a picture of whatever could they could see from the street. (Talk about drive-by shootings!)
No need to worry about inspections in advance. The buyer did them when the time came. Disclosures? Sellers filled them out later, after they found a buyer. Those lush color photo layouts were reserved for the glossy magazines that only came out once a month. There was a minimum 30 day lead time for those ads, so it could easily be 45 days before anyone saw those big ads.
Brokers Open Houses? Maybe one after the book came out. Weekend open house? Usually one in the first month. Signage? Yep – that’s how people found out about most new listings. Newspaper ads? The most immediate thing you could do to promote a listing since lead times were usually only a week.
And so it went. As an Agent, I figured that the average listing didn’t get reasonable exposed to the market of potential buyers out there for at least a month or two after it went on. The wheels of marketing turned slowly and we had plenty of time to prepare and try new things after a listing went on the market.
How different is it today in comparison? We’ll talk more next week.