August 27, 2019 by Meyer Real Estate

Spawn Books, and Bail Bonds, And Keys, Oh My!

Selling homes is a process that has evolved enormously in the last century. Over the last 60 years of selling homes in St. Charles, the Meyer Real Estate team has watched the profession change drastically.

Technology has advanced, laws were updated and then the internet went and changed everything. Heck, even Google Maps forever changed the way people envision location and navigate the world. Meanwhile, the Meyer Real Estate agents have been here in St. Charles, trying every new gadget and learning every new law.

And, boy, do they have the memories to prove it!

Realtors Remember These 12 Practices

More than 100 real estate agents have worked with Meyer Real Estate since its founding in 1959. We asked a few of those who have been around the longest to share the most memorable parts of the profession that have changed drastically.

Below are twelve of the real estate tools, practices and techniques that our realtors remember fondly — or not so fondly!

1. Spawn Books

Agents used to find homes for their clients in big books that were published periodically with all the listings available from every real estate office in town. Eventually, these books came out once a month, and agents had to call around to different offices to see if a listing was still available or if new homes had been listed since publication. Meyer Real Estate Co-Owner Doug Meyer says updates to these books were simple — when you knew or had heard through the grapevine that a home had sold, you drew a line through it. Obviously, the internet changed this practice with digital access to the multiple listing service (MLS) and virtual tours.

2. Keys All Over Town

Back in the day, a buyer’s agent had to drive to the office of the seller’s agent to pick up the key to access a home on the market. Of course, they had to repeat the process for every home their buyer wanted to see, which often resulted in running all over town! Luckily, in the 1990s, lockboxes were developed to allow a key to be securely stored on the property for sale.

3. Primitive Lockboxes

Unfortunately, early lockboxes weren’t designed very well. Doug recalls the thin, four-inch lockbox keys they had to carry around, which he dubbed the “pocket killer” for its tendency to poke holes in pockets. The early lockboxes used to freeze shut. The solution? Carrying around a little thermos of hot water to pour on it! Nowadays, lockboxes are a little better designed, and some can even be accessed by phone app.

4. Two-page Agreements

Over the years, sales deals have gone from two-page documents and a handshake to endless documentation and legal complications. Doug says that inspection clauses were very rare and these early contracts were “easy as pie” to fill out.

5. Smoking In the Office

If you’ve seen Mad Men, you get it.

6. Shirts and Ties

Speaking of Mad Men, Meyer Real Estate Co-Owner Keith Meyer remembers having to wear a shirt and tie to work every day when he first joined the company back in 1997. These days, Keith says he might go a whole year without putting on a tie. We’re pretty partial to the modern company polo shirts!

7. This Thing Called “The Internet”

In the 1990s, some of the Meyer team attended an event featuring a guest speaker who spoke about the power of this thing called “the internet.” Nobody had ever heard of it but decided it sounded pretty cool and enlisted a company to build a website. It turned out to be a major pain to maintain, and it was nothing like the modern, but it gave us some serious bragging rights: we were one of the first companies in the St. Charles area to join the world wide web.

8. Closings at the Real Estate Office

It wasn’t until the 1970s that lenders in Missouri began requiring a buyer to purchase title insurance before a loan was approved. This also led to title companies taking over the closing process and becoming the independent middle man that coordinated finances between the buyer, seller and bank. Before that, closings happened right here in the Meyer Real Estate office.

9. Bail Bonds

When the real estate industry got a bit slow, Meyer Real Estate Founder Don Meyer and his brother and business partner, Bob, would take bail bonds. Keith even remembers being six years old and going with his dad, Bob, to talk to a man who was bailed out but didn’t show up for court. As Keith says, “I remember the guy being huge, and Dad isn’t a very big guy.” Needless to say, we all hope this isn’t a practice that comes back!

10. One Computer

Yes, at one time, the Meyer Real Estate office had a single computer — and no email. To make matters worse, the internet modem had to be toggled between the computer and the fax machine. Luckily, each agent could also communicate on their handy dandy pager.

11. Every Man for Himself

Well, not every man. Just the buyer. Once upon a time, the agents all worked for the seller, whether they were working with a buyer or not. This obviously led to massive confusion, and the concept of buyer’s agency didn’t fully develop until states began requiring agents to disclose who they were formally representing.

12. Confusing Codes

Early versions of the MLS could provide the address and price of a listed home, but that would be followed by a series of codes to explain features and amenities. For example, it might say “je” instead of “gas oven.” The decoding process took forever! As Doug says, “that was a much slower time.”

Get Technological with Meyer Real Estate

While many real estate companies followed our lead and joined the world wide web in the late 1990s, many haven’t evolved since. Here at Meyer Real Estate, we haven’t stopped moving and shaking. As the technology and circumstances that affect real estate develop, so do we.

These days, listing your home on the MLS so it shows up on Zillow and just isn’t enough. We will employ professional photographers and leverage marketing tactics like social media advertising and strategically planned open houses to get your home sold.

Contact us today to speak with a Meyer Real Estate agent and learn more about the innovative tools we will use to sell your home.