The Perils of Progress
By Homer Guthrie, Expert Homeowner
My real estate agent, Bea Meriwether, is one of those real estate people who thrived in the days when the business was all about personality and people skills, like selling houses face-to-face and negotiating like a poker star. She still bakes chocolate chip cookies just to scent the air at open houses and carries an extra hanky for teary sellers saying good-bye to the family home.
Bea has little use for the new Internet world that has transformed her business. She’d rather blab than blog and viral marketing makes her queasy. She calls the big real estate sites “Neverland” because they attract thousands of rubberneckers who fantasize over houses they could never afford. Bea prefers her reality anywhere but on a video screen, thank you very much, which is why her vanity plates say “B-REAL-T.”
So one day last month she ran into an old family friend, Wayne Parsons. She’d nudged him for years to sell his creaky old Cape Cod and downsize into a super modern condo or town house. But with the housing depression and living in Mirage Mills, known as the Chernobyl of American real estate, he decided to wait until the nation’s housing economy came to its senses.
We were still taking bets on how long that was going to take when, amazingly, prices in Mirage Mills actually rose two percent for the first time in memory. Bea was on the phone to her friend in a flash, eager to land a listing before the next price report came out and corrected the mistake. By golly if she didn’t convince him to sell. He probably realized that the way things are, he’d better take his two percent and run.
Now Wayne was as old as dirt but he loved the Internet and everything about it. He insisted Bea spend thousands to make his place look marvelous online. Bea held her nose, but she did it. She’d recoup the costs and a lot more when her commission came through at closing. Bea convinced the Parson family to take a week at the beach while they got the house ready to sell. The stager kicked the guy out of his own house so that they could hide his clutter, hit the public rooms with a coat of paint and fill them with furnishings that Bea carried around in the back of her SUV. A landscaper scalped 20 years off the trees and bushes. They even hired young models for the photo and video shoots to give the place some pizazz. The idea was to remove the Parson presence and make the house look like anybody could live there, and they were quite successful. Bea decided to surprise the Parsons by getting the listing up before they got home.
The house wasn’t on the multiple listing service two days before Wayne called from the beach.
“I don’t know how to say this,” he began, “Are you sitting down? “So today I was on my laptop searching for a new home. I typed in everything I wanted, number of rooms, zip code, price range, style. It took me to this beautiful home. It was perfect. Beautiful photos and even a video. Big and comfortable. Character. Well-kept grounds and freshly painted rooms with lovely furnishings. Even the people in the photos looked like they loved living there. I even felt a little sad that they had to sell and move away.”
Bea had a feeling she wasn’t going to like what he was going to say next.
“Then I looked at the address on the listing. It was MY house. The rooms looked so nice I had to look at the long shot outside, but even the bushes looked different. I searched on ten different sites. Each one, I swear, took me to the same house. I think the technology god is telling me something.”
“Believe me Wayne. Technology is godless.”
He ignored her. “So I realized the technology god is telling me not to sell. We already live in the perfect home for us and we could never be as happy anywhere else. Bea, thank you so much for helping me to realize this. It’s been truly an epiphany.”
Bea hung up and screamed out the back door of her real estate office.
Copyright Reecon Advisors 2012. All Rights Reserved.
Write Homer Guthrie at email@example.com.