Reflecting on a quarter century in a career I treasure and how real estate sure has changed since 1995.
Electronic Signatures Have Revolutionized Real Estate
If there is one change that stands out, that has had a dramatic impact from then to now, it would be the electronic signature. Case in point. Just yesterday on a listing appointment, we marked up the Listing Contract so much, it just seemed faster to start over. So we did. I whipped out a laptop, connected to the internet and made the changes then and there. Seller signed via DocuSign, one of the more popular electronic signature platforms.
A close runner up would be the move away from paper books of listings to the internet. But the truth is, that change was already in process when I got my license. I never really used the MLS books personally.
The Office Tour
When I first started in business, every Tuesday we would load into cars and drive about to houses. I discovered early on, not all carpools were the same. It was definitely better to be in a car with lively folks. These days, first between Covid-19 and then the limiting amount of inventory, you just don’t see carloads of Realtors driving from house to house anymore. Do I miss it? Not really. I think this was the sort of thing that made home sellers feel good but didn’t really impact the sales process.
Contracts Have Changed
Great place to start the comparison. Back then, contracts were several pages of carbon copy. One copy for me, one for you, one to submit. And the contract was legal sized in length and about six pages long. Today the Colorado Contract To Buy and Sell Real Estate is triple the length, letter sized and many customers are happy to skip using up a tree and just receive a digital copy.
The cell phone and pager were present as I started in real estate. I heard tales back then of just a few years back when Realtors had CB radios in their cars. This way they could call an office to help set a last minute showing.
As I got my start, the pager was everywhere. Cell phones were none too common and our little pagers were forever beeping away with instructions to call this person or that. Now, you see a pager in a movie or something and it is usually a nefarious reference.
Smart phones are the rage today. Some of my clients only like to text. Voicemail which was the hot new thing is now out. Heck, some clients keep their VM box full to prevent having to listen and respond to messages.
And don’t forget Fax machines. Once upon a time, agents would loan a fax machine to clients to facilitate getting signatures. These days electronic signatures are everywhere.
Mortgage Bankers and Mortgage Brokers
When I first started in 1995, I met a ton of mortgage brokers. These folks writing loans for clients told me the advantage was clear. Brokers could find the best loan, anywhere in the market, for each home buying customer. Then, legislation changed things and banks became much more closely aligned with writing mortgages. Since then, the same lenders explain to me why being a mortgage banker is in the best interests of clients.
Another way real estate sure has changed around loans has to do with the HUD. This document which was the central component of most every home closing the first half of my career went bye-bye following the Great Recession. Its been switched for a Closing Disclosure. The new document’s goal is to inform buyers of their terms before actually closing on the transaction.
Moments In Time
Sometimes, we have these little moments, crossing from “Then to Now.” I think you know what I mean. Say, when it is your birthday and you turn Fifty. Or twenty one. Or you celebrate a wedding anniversary and realize, “hey, we’ve been married longer than we were single.”
My career in real estate is a little bit like this from time to time. I’ve definitely experienced a lot of change in my career having been licensed to sell homes since 1995. About a quarter of a century. The people have changed – some new faces in the business, some folks come and gone. The industry has changed. When I started, the average agent maybe had a GRI. Now, I frequently see all sorts of designations associated with Realtors.
If ever there was a change in realty, the open house would define it. Of course, this is one that has really changed lately, impacted by Covid-19. But I’ve seen other trends come and go over my career. For instance, when I first started back in the Nineties, an open house might drag along for four or five hours on a Sunday. By 2015, it was common to see homes open for two hours tops. And while Sunday was the only day to host a house open for viewing, Saturdays and weeknights were definitely common pre-virus.
Now, Realtor Colorado opinion is the safest format is a virtual open house. These are hosted on platforms such as Facebook. Far safer for all involved. Makes me wonder if this 2020 trend will continue in the future. One fad that came and went was the open house crawl. Think Pub Crawl. But instead of enjoying a nice drink at each stop, home shoppers and Looky Lou’s would drvie from property to property, stopping to view several homes over the course of a few hours.
The Rise And Fall of The National Franchise
I heard franchises were coming when I got into the business. I know might first company was filled with old-timers who thought of the firm as Van Schaack. And newbies like me that related to the Coldwell Banker label. After a few years, national franchises were hot. Just when it seemed to be the hottest trend, we saw a new rise of smaller niche marketed companies.
Not to say 8Z Rentals or Live Urban are small outfits. Rather, these are serious competitors. But, it is a change back to local versus National. Of course, at the moment I’m part of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – a national outfit. I figure, you can’t go wrong being part of Warren Buffet’s company.
Golf – Nah, Not Just For Realtors
The driving range has changed dramatically – pictured below, my son and I at the new Top Golf out at 470 and i-25 (and there’s a change to the roadways since I started in this career). Multilevel driving range – that’s a big change.
Affordable Housing Takes On New Meaning
Wow, if ever there has been a sea change in the Boulder CO real estate market, it is the definition of affordable housing. Back in 1995, a million dollar property was luxury living. There weren’t many homes for sale north a 1,000,000 bucks. Today, 2/3rds of the Boulder home sales are north of a million dollars.
And those truly affordable houses? If you are looking to live in greater Boulder – places where your address says Boulder but in fact you might be out East in Shannon Estates (practically to the Lafayette YMCA) or up northeast in Gunbarrel, homes start in the mid-500’s. To truly be in an affordable city of Boulder home today, we’re talking mid Sixes. $625,000 to $700,000 for a Boulder starter home.
And locally we have the creation of Permanently Affordable homes. That’s a massive change ushered in just about the same time I was starting to sell homes.
The Car, The Outfit, The Look
Before I ever started in real estate, the penultimate agents were wearing the Century 21 golden blazer. That was a mark of esteem. Right up there with the pink Cadillac driven by the best of the best Mary Kay saleswomen. These days I’ve seen young Millennial agents in jeans and t-shirts. While I would love to wear my Zoom outfits out of the house, I’m opting for wool dress pants and a button down shirt.
Still, I remember seeing the same agents buy a brand new car every Spring. Couldn’t tell if that really led to more transactions or not. I do still see some of the older agents around wearing their trademark tie and blazer. I’m not quite that formal. Nor can I embrace the new dressed down grunge look. Oh gosh, I seem to be an older agent as I jot this. LOL.
Summing It All Up
So much as changed. I didn’t even mention how buying homes sight unseen briefly came into vogue this year during the early part of the pandemic. But truly, a lot has changed when it comes to real estate. I’m excited to see where the future of the industry goes in the coming years.
Have you experienced change in your career? Share it below. Or is there something I should add to my list? Let me know. Thanks for visiting my site. I’m Realtor Bob Gordon Berkshire Hathaway Boulder and I’ve been selling homes since ’95 and blogging since 2013.