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Polis Report

If Walls Could Speak

By Traci Hukill

Apparently the people at Realty Electronics Inc. weren't satisfied with the present number of machines talking at people, because otherwise they never would have added Talking Houses to a growing list of automated greetings that includes voicemail messages, voice menus and babbling ATMs. Now prospective home buyers nationwide don't have to trouble themselves or frantic real estate agents with anything so pesky as a phone call to find out if an advertised house is blessed with enough bedrooms. They can just park across the street from a Talking House, tune their radios to 1610 AM and listen to the house speak for itself.

"Hello, I'm the Talking House at 205 Ash St. I have three bedrooms, two baths and a hot tub, and I'm sporting a recently remodeled kitchen ..."

So far the manufacturer has sold 50,000 of the answering-machine-size radio transmitters, which sit inside the target house and emit low-frequency waves. They sell for about $200 each.

Bruce Duarte of Coldwell Banker Campos in Watsonville loves his three gadgets. He says they save time for both buyers and agents by weeding out uninterested shoppers.

Is the Talking House headed for Santa Clara Valley? Not anytime soon. According to Rebecca Revelez, a Realtor for Century 21, houses aren't staying on the market long enough these days to merit such timesaving measures.

Indeed, RE Infolink reports that the valley is enjoying a real estate boom that's bumped the average cost of a single-family home up $50,000 from last year and halved the average time a house is on the market.

At that rate a Talking House message around here would be pretty short: "Too late, sucka!"

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From the July 10-16, 1997 issue of Metro.

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