Saturday, 23 March 2013

Technology is My Friend!

We were living in the Greater Toronto Area when I first started in Real Estate.  The year was 1995...

Cell phones were just starting to make their rise in popularity, and with them, the fear of brain cancer.  Most of us did not own a cell phone and really, why on earth would you need a one anyways?

We all had pagers, large bulky heavy ones, about 3” long by about 2” wide. And they only paged you with a number. No name, no information other than a number.  And so as you drove around, you were always conscious of where the phone booths were and how many quarters you had, just in case you needed to stop to make a call. 

There was a computer in every office but this highly-praised box of headaches was only used by a few of the more tech-savvy people.  For the rest of us, the typewriter was seen as the better and logical choice. We didn’t even have a photocopier! 

We had books of listings and sales. Large heavy books. About the size of a yellow pages phone book. They came out on a weekly basis from the real estate board, and we would peruse the pages and circle listings and make appointments from it. We would even order extra books to lend out to our buyers so they could find the homes that they liked. Once a day a New Listing sheet came out so we would know what was current!

Lock boxes? Pretty much non existent. Keys were held in real estate offices or sometimes by agents and occasionally “under the flower pot at the back door”. So before showings you went around to every real estate office to collect the keys that you needed for the day’s showings and then returned them after the showings were through. Chances were you either had to dash back to that office right after a showing to return the keys so someone else could take them- or you had to wait at the property for the next agent to arrive so you could hand over the keys...

And of course a map was essential. A map book even better, with a compass in the glove compartment just in case!

Taking photos of a home was also a challenge. Taking the pictures was the easy part- mostly of the outside, as there was really no need for interior photos. Then the film was taken to the photo shop to have the pictures developed. Once developed and the best exterior shots chosen, 20-30 prints were ordered so they could be pasted individually on each feature sheet.

Doing up an offer was not a simple task either. It was mostly done by hand, since the typewriter was probably being used by someone else, and it was most likely faster to write than type for most agents. So the offer would be hand written, making 4 copies using purple tracing paper between the pages (remember to keep the tracing paper away from your clothes and hands, it was awful to wash off!). Learn to press hard or else you will be re-writing out the last page or so. And you can't use white-out for mistakes. Ink erasers, or cross-out and initial. Imagine all of the clauses that we currently put in an offer, all hand written out!

Since there were no fax machines, you drove the offer over to the client to sign or to the listing agent- or you had it couriered. That’s when there was a reason for an offer to run over several days- it really did take time to get back and forth! Then drive it to the lawyer’s and lender’s offices. And courier the deposit cheque or make another trip. And then do the same for any waivers or amendments.

Even on closing day there were trips to be made. Drive to the lawyer’s office at noon and pick up the keys and then later in the day, about 3-5 pm, once you got a call from the lawyer saying the property had closed, you drove to the property to open the door and hand over the keys. Now that’s completing a transaction with a personal touch!

You hear it said sometimes that technology complicates our lives, and while that may be true, I think of how many technology advancements have made my life easier. From the cell phone to computer, from photocopier to faxes to electronic lock boxes, my job now is a breeze! Next challenge- electronic signing! 

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