I was feeling nostalgic for our spring shutdown the past few days. Real estate is very busy and it all seems a bit overwhelming after the extended quiet at the height of the Covid scare just a few weeks ago. So I called a time-out today. I pulled on my shutdown uniform, yoga pants and a tee shirt, and dug into what we still call paperwork. There is seldom any paper involved. It’s all on computer.

The forms for a new listing are online. I load them into a program that allows clients to sign them with the click of a button, and I email them. When I first began working in real estate, there was a massive looseleaf binder that held copies of all the house listings in our office. If someone called to see one, we had to dig through the book, find the right house, then log the request into a showing sheet.

Now I spend 40 minutes entering information on new listings on the online Multiple Listing Services. Anyone who is a member can see them. And Zillow, and Trulia will take that info and send it out to the rest of the world. No more cumbersome notebooks. In Ulster County, if a broker wants to show one of those houses, most calls go to a call center in Utah or somewhere, and it’s coordinated from there.


We’re not quite that far along out here in Delaware County. If you want to see a property I listed, you still call me to arrange it. Or text me. Or email me. If, that is, you’re in a place with a cellphone signal. But though our hills and valleys may make cellphone reception a challenge, the effort to push good Internet service into rural New York is working. My barn has a satellite dish on it, a relic from just a few years ago. Now my country road has both Spectrum cable and Delhi Tel fiber optic Internet.

When I want to take a break and write, whether it’s this little essay or the latest chapter in the never-done novels stored on my computer, I don’t have to move. It’s all here, on this slim, aging laptop. When I’m done, I don’t even have to walk to the mailbox. I just click “send.”

I’m still waiting for a teleporter that lets me travel the same way.

Read more installments of Village Voices by Susan Barnett.