Left to right: Panelists Tim Anderson, Phyllis Carmichael, Ethel Green, Gary Herbert, Jim Nappo, and Los Altos/Mountain View District Chair Denise Welsh (standing), who served as moderator.

Veteran REALTORS® with experience ranging from 26 to 36 years shared their perceptions on how much the real estate business has changed over the years at last week’s Los Altos/Mountain District tour meeting. Forming the panel were Tim Anderson (Alain Pinel Realtors), Jim Nappo (Alain Pinel Realtors), Ethel Green (Intero Real Estate), Phyllis Carmichael (Coldwell Banker) and Gary Herbert (Coldwell Banker).

The panelists said technology has been the big business changer, especially in the last 10 years. Technology has contributed to the ease of doing business and quicker response time. Tools available to help REALTORS® provide better service to clients include emails, websites and virtual tours, and smartphones with the ability to send real time data to their clients.

At the same time technology has also brought new demands on REALTORS®. Buyers are now more educated than they used to be and majority do research on the Internet first before finding a home and an agent. As a result, agents show buyers fewer homes, but they are also expected to be very well-versed about the market.

The business has also become more complicated with pages of documents to wade through. Carmichael can still remember when a sale merely required a one-page document, an agreement among the agents, buyer and seller, with no lawyers involved. “We hand delivered everything and spent much time on the road, driving from Blossom Valley all the way to San Carlos, just to deliver the one-page document,” she added.

The panelists said they also feel real estate has become less of a relationship business. “A lot has been lost because people don’t talk to each other anymore. They get emails and this can be a positive as well as a negative,” said Nappo.

What hasn’t changed is they continue to take education courses, network with one another, and still see value in open houses and keeping in touch with their clients.  While cell phones and computers have become valuable tools, Herbert and the others insist the best way to help people understand the market is to “pick up the phone and call them, talk to them face to face.”

How different is the local market today? “It’s fascinating. Everywhere, it’s a tailspin, but demand continues to be overwhelming here and for good reasons – the schools and jobs,” commented Anderson.

Green was just as upbeat and said, “We are fortunate because there is no more land here. If you are here for a long time, you will get equity in your house because there is just no more land in this area.”