experts: real estate column Tuesday, June 01, 1999

EVERYTHING IS NEW. SO WHAT?

By Marty Douglas

In a 1998 editorial, Bradley Inman described the Internet's impact: "Real estate brokers face the same metamorphosis .... never again will their business be the same." In an attempt to fulfill that prediction, Mr Inman has established a new venture, homegain.com, a Website designed to link sellers and agents via a central registry service, where each enroll and sellers select agents without the pressure of the listing appointment. Agents avoid the high cost of self-promotion. Mr. Inman will ultimately collect a fee from the agents.

This is not new. This is old. Attached to new technology.

...... never again will their business be the same."

I happen to agree, however-so what. All the yapping about change seems to be motivated toward scaring us into some kind of activity. Change is not new to us. Change is a tribe of headhunters in Borneo discovering shrinkwrap. The phrase, "What's new?" is rhetorical. Everything is new. So what?

The real estate industry has faced change before, and changed. Although not so all encompassing as current technology, the introduction of the Polaroid camera, financial calculators, women in business, capital gains tax, fax machines, or cellular phones were no less significant. I recall when our office was the first to have CB-radio equipped cars.

So it was with some sense of irony that I read about William Sherden's book The Fortune Sellers, in which he followed up on past predictions. And guess what? The curmudgeons among you will grump your "I told you so's".

Eighty per cent of all future predictions were wrong. Going back to events such as the 1939 New York World's Fair, he uncovered bold announcements the future would welcome home robots, radio-controlled cars on seven-lane freeways, weather control, undersea colonies and the luxury of too much time because of automation - all by the end of the century, which is next year.

Some aspects of those predictions have materialized. What was not foreseen was the need for both parents to work in order to support the materialism.

The news about the future in the past is even more challenging as a guide to what our future holds. Most realities of the present - the telephone, the computer, the laser - happened by accident and were unforeseen. The Internet and the new technology on which it comes to the market place are changing daily. But it's just advertising. Imagine the impact of the first billboard campaign in the early 20th century. Consider the impact of product signs on and inside trolley cars. No doubt Mr. Inman's ancestor looked out of his cave and muttered that the real estate industry would never be the same. Yawn.

Speaking of advertising, effective ads implant brands. Jim McNeal led his sales team in Prince George through a challenging metamorphosis of franchise affiliations. Then came the task of the public announcement. With hired gun advertising talent and Jim's frontier style of telling it like it is, the ad pictured two flag poles, one flag ascending, the other descending and the caption "All of a Sutton ... we're Royal LePage."

Ally McBeal's therapist recom- mends that we carry a tune in our heads to play on our internal RealPlayer in those moments when we are less than brave. I thought I had one. Turns out I had the tune but not the artist. Thanks to Crystal Wettstein of Crystal Realty in London, Ont., who swain against the stream of correspondence agreeing with the thrust of a recent column, The Shrinking Real Estate Profession. One reference hit a sour note with Crystal - the citation of the song Whatcha Gonna Do. Not only did she advise the song was performed by Chilliwack, not the Eagles, but she provided the recording date and 1983 album title, Segue.

If there was a Website to research song titles - now, that would be change.




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Recent Articles by this columnist:

Surviving in a slower market
Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The downside of teams
Saturday, October 02, 2010


Thank you, FINTRAC
Wednesday, November 19, 2008


A Snapshot of Alberta
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No song and dance for weighty housing issues
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All articles by Marty Douglas

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