What’s the next real estate technology?
Chatting with a customer the other day about the miracle product known as NCR paper (no carbon required), we began to reflect on the many technical changes that have come to our industry since we stopped using carbon paper. Gone are the black smudges of carbon. The great time saver, White Out, used to correct typos that were made on an ink-ribbon typewriter (hence the word typo, still used in today’s virtual world), is now used to redact sensitive personal information to prevent identity theft. What a different world we live in.
Many people today have never actually used a real typewriter. Laptop computers cost less than half of what the old business typewriter standard, the IBM Selectric, used to cost. We used to make a copy of a contract using carbon or NCR paper, but any typos and the copy was hard to read. Copy machines came in to being, and they were slow. Today one can generate a document quickly on a computer, print copies quickly, or simply send it out without printing via the Internet to any number of recipients.
Communication has come a long way since we had to take the handset of the rotary phone and plug it into a receiver to get MLS information. There were no pictures, only a spreadsheet of statistics. The thermal paper would curl and then change color.
Today’s smartphones enable agents to search the MLS in the field, see color photos, send and receive e-mail and texts, and even drive through a neighborhood and have all the homes available for sale show up on the screen. Some of this is available to the public via free apps for their phones.
Faxes have come into being and, though not quite gone, are slowly being displaced by e-mail. To determine a payment we used to utilize printed pages known as the Elwood Tables.
Then came financial calculators that had the tables built in. We looked like wizards figuring payments by punching in numbers. Now anyone can get a free app for their smartphone, or go online to many places, and determine their own payment options.
Digital pictures and videos are a far cry from taking the film down to the photo lab and waiting to see how the pictures turned out. One Hour Photo was a miracle in its day – we could pay more and have pictures seemingly instantly. Today we review the pictures as we take them for quality. We can take videos for out-of-town customers and give them a private YouTube address to view them at.
Offers have gone from one page to around 45 pages for the average residential transaction. Offers can be sent electronically and even signed and returned electronically without the recipient/signator having to even print the pages. House key management has gone from having a copy at the office that other agents come and pick up to show to code boxes, then actual key lockboxes to the lockbox of today. Today’s lockboxes are digital. When an agent opens a lockbox to retrieve a key the agent that owns the lockbox receives an e-mail alert notifying them of who opened the box, the date and time.
Houses are still houses, but the industry for their safe sale and purchase has certainly changed over the past 30 years.
It is exciting to think of what the next technological miracle will be that will make one of today’s marvels be the next buggy whip, or IBM Selectric Typewriter. Make sure your agent is up with the industry changes (remember the Internet!), and you will have an exciting experience when you buy and sell today.
n Lisa Wetzel and Jim Valentine are real estate agents with RE/MAX Realty Affiliates in Gardnerville. They are short sale and foreclosure specialists and certified distressed property experts. Contact them at email@example.com.