Last week I stopped by one of my dad’s job sites. He’s a general contractor who has been blessed with a little bit of business this year, and I wanted to see how the latest custom-build job was coming along.

Dad was downright ebullient as he gave me his "nickel tour" of the property. I, ever the dutiful daughter, oohed and aahed over the arched doorways and barrel-vaulted entry. Subcontractors scurried around us, with myriad tasks to complete before quitting time.

As we neared the end of the tour, dad handed me a broom.

"Just take a couple rooms and make ’em sparkle," he said.

Yes. That’s right. How could I have expected less? Just because I am over 30, married and four weeks away from giving birth to his first grandchild, that doesn’t mean I can leave a jobsite without getting a job. "A successful business is all about the basics," or so says dad.

Ugh. The basics. Remember those?

Well, uh … wait.

Five years ago, if you had asked me, "Alisha, what are the basics to a successful real estate practice?" I would have told you to get a) a luxury vehicle, b) a strong man to put in your for-sale signs, and c) a smart phone.

Beyond that, you could invest in a colorful and easy-to-navigate website, brie cheese and tequila for broker tours, and a sexy-yet-professional pair of killer high heels. Got that? Now you could be a successful broker.

Fast-forward five years.

Nowadays, we don’t look down on colleagues driving a blue Prius. True, they may not have brakes, but they are getting good gas mileage. Many of us are up at the crack of dawn in our home-based offices, wearing fuzzy Uggs and drinking stiff cups of coffee.

We can’t remember where we put our fancy Chico’s earrings, and we sadly had to relinquish the unlimited tanning cards last year. Whereas many of us used to practice the squinty-eyed stare-down, we are now developing a pithy wit.

To point: Last week, at a multiple listing service meeting, one colleague lugged two huge burlap bags to the front of the meeting hall.

"Hi guys. Times are tough. Getting better every day, but we’re still struggling. So, I’m offering a drawing at my open house for these two 20-pound bags of rice and beans."

Applause and laughter echoed across the tables. Nearly everyone starred his property and giggled. The next broker stood up.

"Gosh, it’s hard to follow Dave, but here it goes: My 8-year-old daughter has sewn this flour-sack doll for some lucky winner. After you enjoy her handiwork, it will make a great voodoo doll for tough buyers or a fabulous pie crust, your choice."

Again, the room erupted into laughter and her property was underlined as a must-see.

Ahhh, humor; humanity; reality. Real relationships aren’t purchased with iPads and luxury magazine ads … they’re earned.

So how have Realtors changed over the past five years? I think we’re getting down to the basics of building relationships again — the true crux of our industry.

Yes, the iPad is shiny, new and really cool. But brownies still taste better and a warm handshake might just be more memorable. We have learned to use technology in ever-increasing effectiveness, but don’t think for a moment it replaces the face of a real person.

Sweeping out a house may seem so 14-year-old, but we should never forget about the basics.

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