Real Estate the Old Fashioned Way – Remember the Big Book of Listings?


posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

As promised, today I will begin a series of ramblings on what life was like in the olden days for real estate agents – before ZTR, Docusign, GPS and smarty-pantz phones. And contrary to what you might assume, I believe real estate agents were BETTER equipped (in some ways) to be successful when they WEREN’T equipped with all these gizmos, gadgets and techno-toys!

Let me set the stage. Back in late 1996, I hung my shiny new real estate license on the wall of my first brokerage firm – Coldwell Banker Van Schaack in Denver, Colorado. By the end of the year, I’d had four closings and in the next 12 months, enjoyed 25 visits to the closing table. Maybe not set-the-world-on-fire numbers, but it was good enough to get me Rookie-of-the-Year runner-up and, heck, I was pleased with myself.

This was back in the day of the Big Book of Listings – remember that? Every Tuesday, the real estate board would distribute the Big Book with grainy pictures of active listings and the bare basic specifications of each. Or, for the more technically-inclined among us, we could log onto the DOS-based MLS and scroll through the listings (no photos included).

Sounds dreadful, doesn’t it? How on EARTH could a real estate agent possibly keep up with the market when the only information available about a listing was a grainy black and white photo and a brief just-the-facts write-up?

How, indeed?


Instead of perusing property profiles online, we had no choice but to go out and preview. And preview. And preview some more. In fact, that’s how I spent my very first day as a licensed real estate agent – previewing property with two other agents ’cause that’s what you DID to learn your market. It was a habit I got into early that served me well, very well, throughout my career, even after color interior photos, virtual tours, videos and google earth hit the scene.

I was lucky that in my Denver, Colorado market, previewing was accepted, even encouraged. I was stunned when I started writing for real estate agents and discovered that previewing was not mainstream in all markets; in fact, in many, it Simply Isn’t Done.

The moral of the story – if previewing is allowed in your market, even if it’s frowned upon but technically allowed – DO IT. You will be a far better agent for your effort!


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