No one has experienced the rise of the social network more than my wife Jeanne and I. When I began my real estate career in 1977, there were no computers, no fax machines, no cell phones, no texting and certainly not a social network! So how did we survive in bringing parties together in a cordial civil real estate transaction? We met one another face to face with a hand shake and eye contact. Sound odd in today’s world…you bet!
You may be feeling the effects of an ever-changing world where young people are constantly texting one another. Folks are posting their lives on Facebook, linked-in and the myriad of other platforms to publicly display one’s life for all to see. This change in communication has caused many of you to feel left out. It may feel like the world you knew is gone and replaced with digits, icons and noises coming from hand held devices. Your children and grandchildren are now bending their heads in a lowered position starring at their smart phone which I think may be the beginning of a new evolution of the human body where one’s neck may form into a 45 degree angle downward to make viewing Facebook a much more natural position!
Now, I don’t mean to come off as a dinosaur or give you the idea that technology is strictly a negative advancement for our society. My wife and I have totally embraced this new technology in our real estate practice and have found most new programs and hardware to be incredible and helpful to the real estate transaction. Some of these changes have been disappointing. I’m sure you are feeling somewhat conflicted also. Yes, it is great that you can be in the loop within seconds of new information. It is a positive that so many relatively new tools can bring information right into our homes without us having to step out of our homes. In my business, we are saving time and becoming much more efficient in what we do. That is a good thing. However, the one lesson in life that stands out as a constant is BALANCE! Are we moving in a direction too far one way and not enough of another? Will the center come into play as we keep moving “forward” and may we go back to more personal interaction? Time will tell. The point of this article is to explain how changes in real estate should be embraced but how these changes have taken something away. I want you to know that you are not alone in your feelings of feeling left behind, but also to let you know that you may want to open the door a bit and get more involved in this new world of communication and technology.
Let’s start with my business, the business of real estate. As you are probably aware, Jeanne and I work primarily with older adults and their families. We have helped guide so many incredible folks from their long-time homes to a senior community, apartment or condominium. It has been a blessing to be involved in such an important move. The good news is that when we list your home, a buyer can literally tour your home online and determine instantly if your property meets their needs. Therefore, open houses and signs are no longer necessary. The buyers that do set up a showing to view your home are knowledgeable and more apt to be the right buyer rather than in the past, buyers taking one step in and one step out. When a buyer writes an offer, all parties can now sign online just by clicking in the signature slots. These changes I believe are excellent and save all involved a great deal of time.
What I believe is missing is the hand shake and the discussion among my peers. Most agents are gravitating towards texting. In some transactions, I may never hear or see the agent representing the buyer! When I go to a closing and all the parties involved are at the closing table, I introduce myself and don’t know if the Realtor I’ve been communicating with for over two months is the buyer, the lawyer or a bi-stander! Sellers and buyers may have never met, and in many cases parties are pre-signing so that the buyer and seller have never seen each other in person. This saddens me as I enjoyed the hugs and smiles and hand holding which always took place at the end of a transaction. This is not to say many closings still bring together sellers and buyers, but many do not.
The bottom line is that technology is here to stay and will be constantly moving forward. Why not embrace some of these new advances and stay connected with the world we live in. I have seen so many in my baby boomer generation as well as older adults, remaining steadfast in their position of refusing to take part in today’s societal changes. They wear their disdain for technology as sort of a red badge of courage. I’m sure this was the same reaction experienced years ago when we went from horse and buggy to the very first vehicles. Imagine going from your source of information coming exclusively from the radio, to today’s thousands of cable stations, the internet and smart phones! Many of my senior clients have experienced and been witness to this incredible transition over the last 80 years of their lives.
One thing we can count on is change. It comes down to being a part of today’s world with a balance of keeping the best of the old and combining it with the new. Balance of technology, communication, and all other actions in our lives will keep us healthy and happy people. Too much of one thing and not enough for another has always led to disappointment and heart ache. So think about how you can show our young people the best of what we experienced but let them share the new positive changes with us. I believe if we can balance personal contact with the social media, we can all benefit! The new phrase is “back in the day”. That seems to imply a world left behind and no longer relevant. I believe you, the boomer and the older adult can give so much insight and experience to our younger counterparts. Try to remember the feelings you had when you were the up and coming generation. We thought our parents were somewhat out of date when we came of age. This role reversal can either be a positive or a negative. It is up to you whether you wish to isolate or move forward. People are people and our basic human nature has remained constant. Only the technology has changed. Try to keep that perspective when watching your grandchildren text each other while sitting at opposite ends of your dinner table!