In the ’80s, the MLS Existed as a Picture Book: How Technology Has Changed Everything

In the ’80s, the MLS Existed as a Picture Book: How Technology Has Changed Everything

3 min read
Dave Van Horn

Dave Van Horn is a veteran real estate investor and CEO of PPR Note Co., a $150MM+ company managing funds that buy, sell, and hold residential mortgages nationwide. Dave’s expertise is derived from over 30 years of residential and commercial real estate experience as a licensed Realtor, real estate investor, and private lender.

Beginning his career in construction and as a Realtor, Dave bought his first investment property in 1989. After years of managing his own construction business, Dave became a full-time real estate investor, specializing in fix and flips, buy and holds, and eventually commercial projects, before moving into note investing in 2007.

Over the past decade, Dave has also invested his time into becoming a connector and educator, who helps others achieve success. He focuses jointly on helping accredited investors build and preserve wealth with his group Strategic Investor Alliance and with general audiences through the annual MidAtlantic Real Estate Investor Summit.

Dave has also shared his strategies and experiences with real estate and note investing via hundreds of articles published on the BiggerPockets Blog and with his acclaimed book Real Estate Note Investing.

Dave has been featured on the BiggerPockets Podcast twice (shows 28 and 273), as well as episodes of familiar podcasts, including Joe Fairless’ Best Ever Show, Invest Like a Boss, Cashflow Ninja, and many others. He also has been a guest of Herb Cohen’s on Executive Leaders Radio, which airs nationwide.

Dave is a licensed Realtor with eXp Realty with CRS and GRI designations.

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When I first started out in real estate, I was a real estate agent, and believe me, from a technology standpoint, the world was a much different place. For example, in 1987, there was no computerized multiple listing system (MLS). Couples would actually come into my office to get pre-qualified for a loan, and then they would look in a picture book, several inches thick, that got dropped off at the office every two weeks.

Then, we had to call various brokers’ offices to see if the properties were still available. We did a lot of direct mail marketing and cold calling (both by mail and by door knocking), too. It was brutal. You might actually irritate 100 people just to get a yes. What a ridiculous way to build a brand, right?

Eventually, things really started to change, especially when the MLS came out. The beeper and bag phone (super expensive) soon followed, and then the real game changer was the fax machine, which eliminated the need to drive around until midnight trying to get papers signed.

Today, the life of a real estate agent is much different due to all the changes in technology, but the same goes for a real estate investor.

So, let’s take a look at some of the powerful tools that are now at our disposal, as well as how they impact different aspects of real estate investing.


Finding Deals

When it comes to finding deals, more and more can be accessed online and not only through the MLS. There are all types of platforms for everything from HUD houses and REOs to tax liens and notes.

Social media has also become a prominent tool for building relationships to do more deals, with everything from BiggerPockets to Facebook and LinkedIn groups. You can even sell houses on eBay or Craigslist, and sites like Zillow and have become essential tools, too.


Another area that has changed dramatically is marketing.

Today, all kinds of things can be done online to market for raising capital, finding vendors and contractors, and selling our real estate or related services. One of the biggest marketing processes that has evolved is content marketing, or in other words, providing relevant content to attract a well-defined audience, and this can include blog writing, webinars, podcasts, etc. Plus, most of these things can be created from one’s smartphone!

Another big one is email marketing using software like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Infusionsoft to follow up with or distribute content to your customers and clients.

There are also all types of contact management systems, as well as property management software.

Software and Hardware

With current and emerging software programs, our capabilities are exponential, and hardware is constantly improving as well.

For example, being able to store documents electronically, to have things accessible on a cloud using programs like QuickBooks, and to back up data for disaster recovery are all pretty amazing capabilities compared to what we could do just 30 years ago.

I love time-saving tools like DocuSign, secure upload platforms for confidential documents, and even Google Maps and Waze. How did we live without them?


Due Diligence

The ease of performing due diligence has dramatically increased as well. I can’t fathom owning hundreds of properties and loans nationwide today without the technology. There’s almost too many online resources to mention that help us with due diligence, including broker price opinions (BPOs), credit reports, skip tracing, REO liquidation software, online title reports, and online access to courthouse records.


And let’s not forget the people. The virtual assistant has changed the way we work, as well as when we work and where we have to work from. Today, we can get affordable help 24/7 worldwide. Not only can you utilize virtual assistants, but there are also virtual receptionists available. Today, it seems like anyone can be a consultant or freelancer and work when and from wherever they want to.

As you can see, the opportunities are almost endless. It’s so exciting. It’s definitely easier to start a business today, although it could be a little tougher to get noticed with all the noise out there.

So, when starting or operating your own real estate business, how are you using technology to improve and differentiate yourself?

Let me know with a comment!