Friday, April 16, 2010

Who Said "The More Things Change The More they Stay The Same"?

The other day something reminded me that it was 17 years ago this week that I started in real estate. I’m not one for marking time or even celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, I’d rather focus on today, but whatever it was made me remember that first Patriots Day holiday when I thought real estate agents “had” to work on holidays. So, I put on my suit (my company didn’t allow women to wear pants) and went to my new office. Of course, I had no idea what I was supposed to do there…

I had always worked at companies that had state-of-the-art technology but quickly realized that real estate was not going to be that. Back then the MLS had just come on-line with print outs that agents could barely read and most were still using “the book”, no one in real estate was using email, fax machines were new, direct mail flyers were made by cutting and pasting and photocopying in black and white. Ads were photos of agents and their new listings with taglines touting how many millions they sold; everyone was #1! And, here’s the best part, people who wanted to buy or sell a house had to call an office...

As a brand new agent I didn’t have any listings, I certainly hadn’t sold millions, and I really couldn’t understand why Realtors advertised every time they sold a house – wasn’t that what they were supposed to do? My manager told me to make 100 calls a day, knock on doors, and tell all my friends and relatives so they would "hire" me - things that I just couldn’t see myself doing. So I decided to do the only things I could – learn everything I could; provide information – mail or fax listings to those people who called the office; be respectful and hope no one would know how “green” I was.

Flash forward to 2010: everything and everyone is on-line, we’re all “friends”, we text, and tweet, we “share”, we network, blog... Buyers and sellers have access to an overwhelming amount of information – listings are posted everywhere with maps, and market stats, neighborhood information, mortgage rates, and just about everyone is a real estate expert! Why would anyone need to call a real estate office? Now it’s not just new agents who are asking what should they do, it’s everyone; and not just in the real estate business – every business is changing…

I don’t know who first said “the more things change; the more they stay the same.” But as I thought about all of the changes during my real estate career I realized that while the methods of communication, giving and getting information, have changed for the better - easier, more accessibility, more transparency… human nature - excitement, fear, ego, lack of time; and how homes and neighborhoods feel have not changed.

While we embrace technology and new tools for communicating, more than ever the Realtor's job is to listen, understand, explain, negotiate, keep everyone calm and on track and help people to have a sense of humor about some of the crazy things they can’t control during a transaction. Relationships built on trust and respect and learning everything I can always have been, and continue to be my approach. The tools may change, but people are what matter and most know that honesty, integrity, and having someone on their side who really cares is still the bottom line. So let’s keep changing and staying the same!
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