Happy Birthday to the Internet that many believe has always been around like air and water, death and taxes.
Remembering today a time before the Internet and the early years in real estate listing and selling twist and shout. As the net was born and developed into one giant spider web of hand spun connections.
Providing information for our real estate customers.
In the early years in my small rural Maine town, the customer base was mostly local for buyers. Sure we could run a newspaper ad in a big city weekend edition real estate section bragging up a lake cottage listing for vacations, a piece of land acreage for an investment.
But like a flare it was shot up, glowed for a short time and then went dark, Expensive, hit or miss and not a constant ad message. Most of our home buyers were local because no net and you needed to be living here to use the house, to pay for the place. No telecommuting to work with an online job brought with you on the relocation move to Maine like happens today.
So our role in the early years of real estate list and sell was coming up with a value for the property. Then describe it in a few lines of copy. Next take a few images of it with black and white Poloroid self exposure film that came in a packages of eight. Unlike digital cameras, you were careful not to chew up too many wasted photos. You ran out of film and in winter development of what you snapped for a photo was a little different.
You lined up your house angle shot of mostly exteriors and all in black and white and many shades of gray to show off your newest real estate listings.
Adjust exposure with one dial only, maybe used a flash, and then push down hard with a big click.. Phen pull out the tab dangling out of the right hand of the Poloroid camera wth a easy does it steady yank. And if it did not rip and tear off and stay in the camera ruining the entire cartridge of self developing film, you wait... and wait some more.
The long flat black sheet looking like a small envelop was slid under your armpit or carefully placed over the defroster on the car dash board to wait a minute. Then fingers crossed, here we go as the abracadabra happened.
Don't pull too early or your image was white and too bright.
Leave it too long and oh oh.. dark and no good either.
Like popcorn in the microwave... you get the hang of how long to hold on. The season and temperature around you needed some study and thought when shooting with the instant photo baclk and white camera.
Usually after a minute, pull back thee top layer of the photographic sandwich of sticky, glossing chemicals. And the negative with the reverse image of your home you threw away would appear on one sheet. The image you wanted to keep for the local newspaper or to thumbnail up on to the office listings board would be produced.
The earliest black and white instant photo cameras for real estate required a coating to protect the image for use after taking the shoot, wait, peel 'er back to see what you captured.
Like a mini squeegee in a tube to keep from drying out and with a strong odor. The sticky waxy wet look chemical long small cyliner used to manual wipe across each image to add the gloss protective layer. In time the photo did get damaged and dog eared. It was used to hand deliver, walk in the local newspaper ad for the week and they were expensive.
We could get a great deal on whole boxes of black and white film from Don Marley, the manager of the local Day's Jewelry store of all places. Small towns had more local businesses before volume, the Internet made the profit smaller. So there just was not enough local sales plus digital started to take over and no more shoot, wait, peel and deal only in black and white instant photography that had its hay day like the hoola hoop and bell bottoms.
The digital cameras in the start of offerings had major battery life problems. So limited photography photos plagued many offices until the wrinkles were removed on new photographic advances to the image taking. Once the battery problem was solved and as lens came out with wider angles, interior photos started to be added to the property presentation.
My first digital real estate camera was a Kodak protected by a strange color purple factory pounch. It was the last one that was picked up and used from Kodak that just did not keep up with other camera hardware providers.
Sony, Fuji, Pentax... no, I don't think those are American producers of cameras today. The Internet helped far away lands peddle their products and along with the Interstate, small towns took a hit in the local retailing of many items.
Next, put up a yard sign in the front lawn for all to see or tack up a real estate sign with your brand color combination on a tree or side of a building.
Then wait for calls. Dial on the rotary not swipe, slide, tap tap on a touch screen. Make some calls to records of buyers kept for reaching out to say hey, just listed a place that could be a glass slipper fit. When do you wanr to see it?
In the early years we also were part of Strout Realty which was a 2000 office real estate network before all the other franchise flavors showed up on the scene. The catalog like the one used by Sears or Wards or Penneys so successful for so many years was highly effective.
Our local Houlton ME real estate office was located on US RT 2 just a mile and a half out of town. Living on a farm helped sell agricultural listings, land acreages. It still does even though we own the family farm pictured above but moved the agency location into a more visible downtown location on busy high exposure US RT 1, a four lane highway.
Back to the story, our roots. Strout Realty was started by E.A. Strout in Readfield Maine way way back in 1900.
Strout had a notion people moved to the city for jobs but longed to live and own a small farm property. The Strout HQ was centrally located in Springfield Missouri and his network of rural real estate mom and pop peddlers of property small real estate properties were connected by the catalog of offerings. Using the horse and buggy before that and holding giant hotel evening talks to showcase Maine and other rural state land "All Across America" to locate buyers where they lived in the city settings.
Folks scanning the Strout Realty catalog in the more expensive city setting were amazed at the lower prices of property than they could ever hope to buy in the urban surroundings.
They made the party and private line phone call, wrote letters, sent cards, took the trip up the pike to inspect and ultimately buy very affordable Maine real estate.
Our Houlton Maine real estate office started in 1976 direct mailed land lists and picture brochures with detail snippets for each and every listing on a weekly basis.
Land, farms, homes with land, more of an agricultural feel for the bulk of the listings was what we listed and peddled as an early property dealer.
Assembling the brochure addresses in three, five digit and mixed state zip codes to use our bulk mailing permit for cheaper postage. Putting all the big elastic wrapped groups of twenty five real estate brochures each inside an area brochure describing Northern Maine carefully slid inside a giant canvas sack like Santa uses.
What we provided for information in the service providing to buyers and sellers changed with the web. But before diving into the blog post topic as large as "The Internet" over the last three decades and how it impacted real estate, first things first , It is like the chicken or the egg debate. You could not have the Internet without the computer to neck rein and giddy up ride the net.
Video games like the French make of Atarri got us used to monitor screens and keyboards. Before the wire was plugged in to allow us to tap into a growing Internet, we needed hardware. Commodore 64 and 128 models of computers starting cost was $595. Faster chips to process the growing tasks, the imagery and in time video editing all came along and increased in options as the price came down. Technology is expensive until a market is create to monetize it and make it profitable.
I remember a local real estate attorney in Houlton Maine who invested in an early model computer that was pretty much a glorified word processor.
But he was the first and trail blazed with the big financial investment. What a difference it made to his legal beagle with real estate title work and the closing operation because instead of delays in a real estate paperwork shuffling typing by hand, Big Blue took over.
Now if there was a mistake in the legal description or a middle initial was wrong or missing, no problem. Just use the software and the processor to quickly correct without white out.
No more carbon papers used either.
Adding, removing or any changes in the grantee or grantor field of who is buying or selling, the computer took over and saved the day. It was operator error when a mistake was made now. Unless the power went out and back to the old ways of creating and handling real estate transfer sales.
Retyping sections of legal description missing or that did not close, or that were typed wrong last time around when a sale came up and what was recorded at the registry was plain wrong. Left out the easements and any out parcel conveyances on record at the registry? We can fix that said the legal secretary. All of it could now easily be slid in or out, moved around up and down with the copy and paste easy peasy.
Our earliest computer was not a Commodore 64 or 128 but an IBM 286, then 386, 486 in succession for streamline real estate listing and selling.
Micro chip processors improved. Bigger and better computer products provided the hardware to build websites that could be online cyber stores for products and services. The outside real estate market could be tapped into thanks to the developing net super Internet highway.
Our real estate office always provided local community information in the property listing estate packets direct mailed to customers.
But as the net grew, the customer wanted more than a few images and brief descriptions. More and more they wanted to know everything about the local area before shifting the focus to actual property listings for say in it. So more local images of things to do, the library hospital, schools, parks and rec, local lakes and wildlife, etc all were collected and posted. Blog posts started to provide more details for round the clock drilling down into for local lay of the land information.
But we still put brochures in the state tourism rest stop locations around the Maine. They still have area, not just property listing information on what's for sale today in real estate offerings.
The properties too got more attention and greater detail. Digital photography meant a hundred images of inside, outside the property, from around the community. No more 8 pack Polaroid black and white photography. Video with local events, walking open house tours on your buyer's time schedule were available day and night for online real estate buyers to see, rewind, watch again.
Social media channels get populated with property and area information and shared round robin style like grass fire. Thanks to the Internet those platforms ride on and because everyone has become more social than ever online. Real estate and your home town can hitch a ride and without vast sums of money but lots of creative effort from the real estate agent, broker, Realtor.
Today it is like real estate take out is availale round the clock feeding the public with local community information, with the latest properties in all the price ranges, listing types and map locations. Here to help when you are ready. Thinking of buying, selling, trading real estate in Maine?
MOOERS REALTY 69 North ST Houlton ME 04730 USA