Monday, March 19, 2012


Today, I made an offer on a condo I hope to purchase. Quite frankly, the whole process of finding and buying a condo is fraught with so many distressing twists and turns -- moving back into a monastery seems pretty appealing right now. 

The seller needed a pre-approval from my lender in order to move forward. No problem. I emailed Tom, my broker, who quickly PDF’d the pre-approval to me and my realtor. Then, my realtor PDF’d a purchase agreement to me to sign, which I did, and I PDF’d it back. It all happened within thirty minutes. 

I got to thinking how technology has made this process so much easier than it used to be. Let’s say it was 1962; a mere fifty years ago. Here’s how this morning’s process would have taken place:

I would have had my secretary dial the number to First National Bank. Being a Monday morning, the line would have been busy the first few tries. Finally, my secretary would reach the switchboard operator who would have patched my call to my loan officer’s secretary, Miss Smith. She would have taken down my information and arranged a time for me to speak to Mr. Anderson, my loan officer. 

At the appointed time, Miss Smith would have dialed my number and reached my secretary, Falkner (ha!). He would have connected me to Miss Smith who would have then announced my call to Mr. Anderson and connected our call. I would have told Mr. Anderson that I needed a pre-approval for a real estate purchase. He would happily oblige, but not before making some chic-chat, assuming I had a wife and kids and asking how they were doing at which time Falkner would have interrupted with the news that he and I would be late for our badminton game.  

Mr. Anderson would have buzzed Miss Smith on his intercom and requested that she go down to the bank’s file room and bring my file to him. An hour later, after having lunch with the other ladies in the secretarial pool, she would arrive with a manila folder after stopping by the accounting department to verify the balances in my checking and savings accounts. 

After verifying my credit worthiness from my file, Mr. Anderson would ask Miss Smith to “take a letter” which he would relay to her while she copied in shorthand. Miss Smith would then transcribe her shorthand, type the pre-approval letter in triplicate using carbon paper, placing one copy in my file, mailing the cc (carbon copy – “cc” -- see?) to me and placing the original in a stack for Mr. Anderson to sign at the end of the day. 

Once Mr. Anderson signed it, Miss Smith would type the envelope with the condo owner’s address and place the pre-approval letter in the outgoing mail after finishing her cigarette.

Meanwhile, my realtor was having his secretary, Miss Johnston, type up a purchase agreement. . .  

That’s how it all would have gone down fifty years ago. Can you imagine?? I don’t know how anyone got anything done at all. I have no business complaining about this process. 

The thing is, I actually learned how to type those business letters using carbon paper in my typing class. (Actually, I took Typing I and II and 10-key by touch in Office Education). 

If I had taken shorthand, I could have had Falkner’s job.


At 5:58 PM , Blogger Bob said...

Falkner is stealing paper from the supply closet.
Or so I'm told.


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