The real estate industry has changed immensely over the last three decades, but few appreciate just how much.
Tracey Anderson, director of knowledge and learning with Century 21, began her career in 1994 as an agent when catalogues were all the rage.
“They had just switched over from using the 3x5 cards with a picture of the house glued onto it with listing information, to a catalogue, which came out once a week. If you didn’t get your listing in by Monday morning at 11, it didn’t make the catalogue for that week,” Anderson told REP.
“The catalogue was gold; we couldn’t give it out to clients. We could only show it to them, we could peruse it with them, but we weren’t allowed to give it out to them because that was our information, and we had solid control of the information at that time.”
She also didn’t have a cell phone back then. Instead, she carried a pager.
“I had to know where every phone booth in Winnipeg was.”
The impact of technology cannot be understated simply because of how much faster things are done—and it affects agents’ bottom lines, too.
“Everything was much slower,” continued Anderson, “and that was the expectation of buyers and sellers and agents at that time. If you got back to somebody within 24 hours, that was acceptable. Now if you don’t get back to somebody in five minutes, you’re off the list and the client has moved onto something else. So conditions took longer, negotiations for offers took longer. It would take three days to negotiate an offer, but we do it in an hour now.
“I did 48 deals last year but I don’t know that I could have done that in 1994, one, because I was a new agent and, two, because of the speed at which things got done.”
Scott Piercy, a license partner at Engel & Völkers Victoria, has been in the industry for 11 years. While it may not seem like he started that long ago, the sheer amount of change in the industry makes it seem otherwise.
“I don’t need anything in a pinch but my iPhone,” he said. “I can do everything off there from digital signaturing with DocuSign to emailing documents through Dropbox, to answering texts from a client. I can upload all my legal documents from my office onto Lone Wolf on my browser.”
The use of artificial intelligence in real estate is something Piercy says was unfathomable, even in 2007, when he began his career.
“When I started, it was print and SEO on websites and the transition now is there’s social media with Instagram and Facebook, and there are automated bots using artificial intelligence. They answer questions people have for inquiries on a property.
“We do virtual tours in all our properties, so it gives clients an opportunity to view property without wasting the seller’s time. It is convenient because if they don’t like the layout, they don’t waste anybody’s time. It’s a great way of qualifying a client.”
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