In 1995, or so I recall, I wrote a multi-part series titled "The Changing Face of Real Estate."
In the series, I tried to compare and contrast the real estate industry 25 years before, when my father was a broker, with the mid-1990s.
As I have said before, I wrote my first real estate story in 1967, so I already would have been deep into it on my own.
One of my Friday duties as a reporter early on was to bother the town clerk for the land records book, to copy the list of the previous week's recorded deeds, which I would publish Saturdays.
Everyone read them as diligently as they did the births, deaths, marriages, bowling scores, and who attended Tillie Tilquist's 90th birthday bash at the South Britain Congregational Church hall.
My 1995 real estate series was published just as then-National Association of Realtors chief economist John Tuccillo was telling an overflow group of local agents at the Adam's Mark Hotel about how technology was going to change the business.
Technology was both a blessing and a curse. It would help Realtors do things more efficiently and faster, but efficiency would make fewer of them necessary.
The internet did not make real estate agents obsolete, however. In fact, in a 2015 survey, the Realtors group said, it found that nearly 90 percent of respondents worked with an agent to buy or sell a home.
By contrast, for-sale-by-owner transactions were down to the lowest share ever at 8 percent, the survey showed.
In 1995, a Realtors survey found that only 2 percent of buyers used the internet during their home searches.
By 2005, that figure had soared to more than three-quarters of buyers.
Since 2012, 90 percent or more have gone online during the house hunt.
A hunt is not a purchase, though, and if what goes on in my house is any indication, a lot of searches are motivated by curiosity more than anything.
Most real buyers tend to use the internet to pinpoint search areas, and to see the kinds of houses that are available in that market.
The majority want to see, feel, and touch, which is still not easy on a smartphone or tablet.
When my father was in real estate, it was, for many, a part-time occupation, used as a way to make an extra buck; therefore, agents were not as professional as they are today.
Dad fell back on real estate a couple times when he was laid off from his regular occupation: industrial engineer and personnel director.
When the series ran in 1995, the real estate business was heavily full time and becoming more professional.
I don't recall my father being required to take continuing-education courses for license renewal, for example.
In fact, the real estate licensing manual looked about as complicated as the one for a driver's test.
He memorized the book, took the test at a broker's office curated by a real estate board official, paid whatever the fee was, and voila, he was an agent.
After a year, he took the broker's exam and started his own three-member firm — still part-time.
A lot of what he did was work with small and medium-size home builders who couldn't afford a sales staff. Every weekend, he would sit in a model home and wait for prospective buyers.
It didn't seem to be much fun to me at the time, but the commissions paid for food, clothes, and shelter in the tough times.
My father was luckier than most. A lot of full-time real estate agents today don't make much money, even though consumers tend to believe every one of them is a millionaire.
It's a tough business.