Fischer: Drive down memory lane recalls more complicated time
Not many things are better to listen to than ’80s alternative music while cruising the roads of our pretty great state. Sure, the lyrics are repetitive and nonsensical — after all, who really knows what a “Safety Dance” is (and if you do, please refrain from enlightening me) or how to “Rock the Casbah” (or cashbox, which may be what they are really saying, for that matter)? At the time these songs were released, it was difficult to know what the lyrics really were. We couldn’t Google them, and they were rarely included with the purchased cassette or vinyl. Hours of free, fun-filled entertainment were spent listening to a line from a song, stopping the tape, writing it down and then continuing. This was the only way to really learn the lyrics. I can still squeeze a tear from my eye singing the lyrics from Cutting Crew: “I just died in your barn tonight, mustard no mayonnaise instead.” I was once corrected and told the true lyrics read, “I just died in your arms tonight,” but I like my version better.
At the time this music came out, we were handwriting real estate contracts on carbon copy paper. Sometimes we would type them, but if you made a mistake, you had to Wite-Out the typo times three. “Press hard. The first copy is mine, the second for the other agent, and the third, the illegible one, is for you,” we would explain.
Fortunately, rather than hand-deliver the second carbon copy to the list agent, we could fax it over. At first, faxed documents were not considered legal, but eventually hand-delivered contracts became a thing of the past and faxes were acceptable. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that the Electronic Signatures Act gave legal power to digital signatures.
During this same time period, the only people who had access to home listings, with the exception of driving past a real estate yard sign in front of a home, were Realtors, and we didn’t have access until the listing catalog was delivered. Much like a phone book, the listing book was published bi-weekly with a tiny black-and-white photo of each home that was listed with a price and number of bedrooms and baths. The picture was grainy, at best, and the entire brokerage was allotted one or two of these books to share. The early bird got the proverbial worm in this case. If the book ever went missing, things got very tense at the office and a brutal game of blame would become a precipitous sport.
As much driving as we do now, it was nothing compared to the days before electronic lock boxes. If an agent wanted to show a particular listing, they would likely need to first obtain the key from the listing agent’s office and then return the key once the showing was complete. This made last-minute showings nearly impossible. Weekend showings had to be planned far enough in advance, and the early bird got the proverbial worm in this case as well. Once the key was “checked-out,” it had to be returned before someone else could show the home.
These images of days long gone in real estate were flowing through my mind as I was listening to my nostalgic alternative music. Somehow, a rogue song released in the ’90s titled “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette played:
It’s like rain on your wedding day
It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought…it figures
Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
And Life has a funny, funny way of helping you out
Helping you out.
I agreed. It was ironic. I was coming from a list appointment. My client had contacted me the day before to list his home. He had already signed the paperwork electronically. I was simply there to collect a key, install an electronic key box, meet the photographer and plant a sign in the front yard so the listing could go active today. Life has a funny way of helping us all out.
Jen Fischer is an associate broker and Realtor. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or firstname.lastname@example.org.