I won the lottery this week for contributing to the Real Estate “Sound Off” column in the San Francisco Chronicle. The question was “What’s a piece of technology you can’t imagine doing business without and why?”

 The real answer is that there are at least a dozen technologies I can’t imagine doing without, starting with my Honda Fit (it FITS in parking spaces all over town) and proceeding to things like Docusign (the most reliable of software platforms used by Realtors in my opinion.)

I could dig a little deeper and include things like key-copy machines, or printing, or plastic tabs for installing for-sale signs. And I could add a wish for a miracle technology to make open-house A-frames more user-friendly and less prone to being blown into the street by the slightest breeze and then run over by a car. But here is a slightly expanded version of what I actually wrote for the newspaper:

I’m about to date myself. And I don’t mean I’m buying a bouquet of roses and taking me out to a fancy dinner.

As a still-new Realtor back in 1990, I argued with my broker that we didn’t need to acquire a fax machine for the office. On the question of whether or not that new technology was essential, I took the Luddite stance that it was better to meet clients in person, write their offer in ink, drive it across town, and slide it straight into the listing agent’s hands.

Within 6 months I had a fax machine at home.

Since then, I’ve eagerly embraced new technologies with the nonchalance of a millennial. But asked to choose the desert-island technology most vital to my real estate practice, I’m tightly clutching my mobile phone. Not because it’s smart (it is), but because there’s no substitute for the clarity and warmth of a voice-to-voice conversation.

We Realtors rely too heavily on emails and texts. They promise efficiency, yet depersonalize a very personal enterprise. They can also impair complex communication, making it impossible to get s*#@ done.

Just yesterday I was coordinating with a house painter, a plumber and a homeowner over a punch-list item that needed doing the day before yesterday. Our group texts quickly disintegrated into a muddy mess. So I called the owner, then the plumber, and then the painter. Et voila! The wall behind the new toilet got painted in time for the property photo shoot that afternoon.

Thank you, Mr. Bell.

Photo Credit: Fancycrave 

Cynthia Cummins is the founder of Kindred SF Homes and has been serving homeowners and homebuyers for 3 decades. For information on San Francisco Bay Area real estate visit KindredSFhomes.com. For my writing and mindfulness blog, visit WildHeartWriting.org.