The perfectly quaffed mom hops out of her SUV and immediately starts apologizing - “I’m so sorry, my babysitter cancelled and I had to bring my twins along.” Out of the back seat hop two adorable matching 5 year old girls and we begin our tour of one of Bergen counties nicest homes. After walking into the multi storied entrance way complete with flowers and waterfalls one of the little girls turns to her mom and says “when can you order us one of these homes?” I began thinking to myself… can you imagine. You log onto Amazon and click on homes and then next thing you know—with Prime membership—your new home shows up by Monday?
It brought me back to 2004. I was standing over the fax machine in my old office waiting for confirmation from The New York Times of my 400 character ad for that Sunday’s real estate section. A recent graduate of a local university was in the common area of our office while his parents signed a contract in our conference room. He turned to me with this quizzical look on his face, like he was about to say the most obvious thing in the world: “Don’t you guys have a website? Who wants to learn about a house from abbreviated black and white letters when you can show them full color pictures?”
After many phone calls to people much smarter than I and a crash course in web 2.0 technology www.vera-nechama.com was purchased and created. Shortly thereafter my NYT ads became much shorter as my customers now had all the information necessary to buy one of our homes “For a full list of houses visit our website at….”
Flash forward to 2020 where we found the world locked down in their homes and the prevailing wisdom (if one were to look at some recent stock IPOs) that potential clients would not just purchase scented laundry detergent and frilly dress socks from online retailers but might actually purchase their homes online with the click of a button.
Can we really buy homes without physically stepping into them?
These days, anyone with a smartphone can take a nice wide angled shot of a shaker style kitchen and make it look pretty. But that won’t tell you if you can see your kids playing on the swing set while you stand at the island prepping dinner or if that cabinet in the adjacent family room can be used as additional food storage.
I have lived the transition from fax machine to email and clunky car phone to sleek smartphone. I’ve even sold a new construction home using a virtual reality tour. But if one of my children asked me if they should buy a house they saw online, without ever walking the property and seeing where the neighbor’s fence is I wouldn’t let them do it. Shockingly there are some instances, even today, where there is no replacement for reality.
Nechama Polak is the broker of record and owner of V and N Group LLC located at 1401 Palisade Ave, Teaneck. [email protected] 201 826 8809.