Winds of Change


 When I first started in the Real Estate business in 1990 things were just a tad bit different than they are right now. First off, nobody had a computer. The local MLS actually published a book that had all listing data in it and they delivered it to every office in San Mateo County each Monday morning. If you were a paid up member of the MLS board you got one. On each page were 12 to 15 listings with teeny, tiny little pictures (black & white, of course) of the subject property as well as all the listing data that was reduced to coded abbreviations. Every office had a couple of years worth of archived MLS books because that was the only way to study comparable sales. An agent carried around their books everywhere they went and used it when showing property, since all the sellers phone numbers were in there too. Sometimes you would spot a listing while you were out showing clients…and then you would need to go find a pay phone someplace to call the seller to ask permission to come see the house.

It wasn’t long into my career that the MLS entered the modern era and moved everything on-line. Suddenly all of us had all this data become available 24/7…and it was actually up to date! Do you know what was the most amazing part? It was the number of agents who fought it tooth and nail! I remember lots of grousing about the new MLS. Many agents were simply uncomfortable without the books, they were intimidated by the computer and avoided it like the plague. Most of them either adapted, or more likely, got out of the business all together.

In the age we live in dramatic change happens awfully fast…and we have to adapt to it. Take the thing in that photo up there. It really seemed to me that one week I was renting new release movies at Blockbuster on VHS and the next week they were only offering DVD. Maybe it wasn’t actually that short…but it certainly didn’t take more than a few months to totally convert.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s all happening again, right now, in Real Estate. We used to have a corner on the market when it came to information about homes for sale, sold data and darn near everything else when it came to buying or selling a home. Now it’s all available online for free. The consumer right now is far more educated and sophisticated than ever before when it comes to buying or selling a house…largely because of the Internet. During all of those booming years many of us got lazy and didn’t keep up with these inevitable changes…and alot of them simply don’t want to. With the market being so much slower, we have to be so much better. It shocks me to see listings on homes that don’t have either virtual tours or still photographs…or online disclosures for that matter. There are several in Foster City right now. Is it a surprise that these houses take forever to sell? 85% of buyers (and that’s probably low!) search the Internet looking at homes yet many, many agents are totally intimidated by technology and it’s benefits…and are determined to not learn too. The spigot is not turned on running non stop buyers anymore and, in this area especially, agents need to be just as sophisticated and educated as their clients.


  1. Our local mls requires at least one photo on a listing. I think agents should utilize as many photos per listing as their mls allows. Another thing that bothers me is agents who don’t bother to put room sizes in the listing…..what are they thinking?

    Just my two cents…..

  2. It is interesting to think how recent it was that we had very little technology and still got the job done. I am not sure we are really better off.

  3. Janice,

    You bring up an interesting point about room sizes. If I understand your point correctly, you mean the dimensions of the rooms (either X x Y, or square feet) right? If so, I think the reason that agents don’t include this information is twofold. First, I don’t know of any public information source that would have this info. I don’t believe the county records would have it — they only have the overall size of the home. So that means that somebody would have to take measurements….which leads to the second reason why agents won’t do it.

    If an agent either makes the measurement himself (or herself) or relies on an appraiser’s measurement and then specifies that in the MLS, what happens if the measurement is off by a little bit, unintentionally of course? Sadly, because we live in such a litigious society, the agent is likely to be sued if this information is inaccurate. So agents have to take the conservative route and only state what’s available from independent sources, such as the county records.

    That’s my guess why you don’t see room sizes in the MLS….


  4. Great stuff Chuck! You nailed it right on the head. Also, doing the bare minimum cannot justify our commissions…we have to be as innovative as our surrounding culture and that means going over and avove the old norms.

Speak Your Mind