Too often we as humans pigeonhole our thought processes on how things should be done. We do things the way our parents did which is how their parents did it (Odd, we spent most of our life saying we would do things differently than our parent). We are not much different than the sheep we criticize for following one another off a cliff. Even Jesus is referred to as a shepherd and the people are His flock. We want to think we are rational thinking beings, but we often just do what we have always done which is the way we saw someone else do it.
It is reported (I wasn’t around so can only repeat the gossip) that selling real estate by auction was common place until the Great Depression when so much property was flooding the market and there were few potential buyers that sellers, mostly banks, would simply put a price on the property and wait for a ready willing and able buyer. The Great Depression lasted from 1929 to 1939 and World War II began in 1939 and lasted until 1945. A child born in 1929 had a completely different sense of “Normal” than their parents did. Think about it, a 16 year old in 1945 had no sense of security, likely only knew of hardship. If the house next door was to be sold it was likely to be done with a “For Sale” sign if not gifted to family. After all it’s hard to have an auction when nobody has any money, and fewer have availability to credit. If a seller had the resources to wait on the right, qualified buyer; that would have been preferable to the actual market value of the day.
Now we know the Roman Empire was sold at auction on March 28th, 193 AD for the fair market price of 6250 drachmas per soldier. The earliest records of what we refer to as a traditional real estate agent isn’t recorded in the U.S. until 1890 with the widespread use of theses agents taking hold in the 1950’s boom after World War II.
Archives prove that property would trade in three primary ways prior to the Great Depression: 1) Private Treaty between buyer and seller, 2) Transferred to next generation of family or 3) by public auction. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries metropolitan areas were beginning to see real estate agents, often referred to as “curbstoners” in the day. Until 1919 anyone could call themselves a real estate broker. The process was simple, if a real estate broker saw a for sale sign in the yard they would place their sign in the yard and many of their colleagues would do the same leaving the potential buyers to “pick one”. Modern day real estate professionals can only imagine the horror this could create.
There is no doubt that both the auction and listing methods of marketing real estate have improved their respective capabilities in the last two decades. The digital advantage of marketing non-distressed property to a massive targeted market quicker, cheaper and better has been embraced by both models to the advantage of the seller and buyer. The auction method has been proven to determine fair market value for over 2,000 years, the listing method has been an effective alternative preferred by sellers for nearly 130 years.
When you decide to sell, consider what your priorities are when it comes to marketing. Every seller, property and situation is different and depending on those factors choosing the appropriate method of marketing can change how you view selling real estate and your success in doing so.