The Box o’Homes

The cutting edge.

Back in the days of chisel and stone, yeah some of you remember those days, there was paper.  Lots of paper.  These were before my days in real estate, but a long time ago, in a land nearby, real estate agents didn’t have the internet.  There was no way for a consumer to sit and flip through images and find that perfect house. They were reliant on agents to help find homes.  Literally.

MLS cards

Agents had boxes of homes.  Yeah, you heard that right…boxes.  Homes were on index cards with one not at all helpful black and white image.   As new homes came on the market, a new card was created.  Home searching literally took on a whole new meaning as it was the job of an agent to literally help you find homes in their box o’homes.   No slick filters for wood fireplace or gas heat.  The only filters were the ones created on the tabs by agents. Want a house with a view, wood fireplace, central air, and a large lot?  Yeah…good luck filtering that in the box o’homes.

Then real estate became really high tech and came out with books.

MLS book

Printed every two weeks, these books “streamlined” the process for agents, making it easier to try and find homes for buyers.

I think I would need to don my detective hat in order to hide my need for a magnifying class to read this thing. Thankfully this was before my time.  I’m spoiled that way.

For those agents that were tech revolutionaries  there was the Texas Instruments Silent 700 tele data printer. With thermal paper that smudged the minute you touched it, and faded if you let sunlight touch the paper for more than three seconds.  I remember thermal paper from college printers.  This was for agents that wanted to get listings the minute they “hit” the MLS.  Otherwise, it could be two an old MLS printerweeks before it hit the book.  As an iPad geek, I know I would have had one of these things if I was practicing real estate in 1978.  Love the rotary dial phone.   Ohhhh….ahhhh.

Needless to say, real estate is different these days.  The internet hunts, gathers, and pulls data together for all of us.  Real estate agents spend less time curating home sale content and more time curating a good customer service experience.   So the next time you get frustrated because a website shows a house as active, but it went under contract 24 hours before, just remember how far the industry has come.   It could be worse.  You could be digging through the box or book o’homes.


A special thanks to Jay Gordon, head honcho over at the WVMLS, for letting me share these images of his. Please don’t take them without asking Jay first.  He’s a nice guy.  He will probably say yes.

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