Spring is upon us. This historically means a busy time in the real estate industry. As the weather warms people considering a move are inspired. They will start to look at homes or get their homes ready to list.
In the early 1900s, before brokers and agencies existed, buyers interested in a particular home would come out when homes were “open for inspection.” These viewings were similar to the open houses of today in many ways. They took place on the weekends, but would often last days or weeks with a house often being open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to a recent Realtor.com post. The post, “A Brief History of Opening Our Homes to Total Strangers (aka the Open House),” looks back at the early days of real estate and how we got to where we are today.
The post notes that in these early days there was a real “Wild West” vibe to the industry. With no license laws, anyone could claim they were an agent. Yards were often littered with signs for different “agents” hoping to find the right buyer and make the sale. Therefore, anyone could reap the benefits of a home sale as long as they were picked by the buyer.
This scenario made it hard for individuals who were serious about being real estate professionals. They sought ways to separate themselves from those looking to make a quick dollar. From this, local and national associations, brokerages that employed multiple agents, and exclusive contracts were born. All this provided some much needed structure to the industry. Looking at the timeline in the Realtor.com post, you’ll see not much has changed since the early 1950s. Why? Because it worked!
Okay, there’s been minor adjustments. We now hold Open Houses which tend to be shorter, allowing agents to represent multiple listings. Marketing has also evolved with the Internet and social media. Finally, if you check out the listing from 1917 in the post, you’d probably add that prices have definitely changed. At its core, however, the concept of buying and selling hasn’t changed too much over the last century or so. From browsing listings, to open houses and agents, to buyers and sellers, we are enamored with real estate!