When a couple we'll call Mr. and Mrs. Anderson came to see our house, it had been on the market for three weeks, enough time for me to have honed and perfected my sales pitch to a degree that spooked me.
After the Andersons and their real estate agent finished viewing the property, in Pembroke Pines, Florida, they came up to me to ask me a few questions, and I wasted no time rattling off all of the features: three-car garage, big yard, accordion-type hurricane shutters, monitored alarm system, lots of closet space, tile throughout, blah, blah, blah.
I was blabbing on excitedly, having noticed that the showing seemed to have gone well based on the amount of time they had spent in the house, when Mr. Anderson asked a question that doused my enthusiasm and shut me up.
"By the way, do you have DSL or cable-modem Internet access here?"
Ah, yes. Broadband Internet access. Well, I thought to myself, there goes any chance of an offer from these people. Connection lost.
"Unfortunately, we don't. Not yet. The cable company has been promising cable access for a long time, and so has BellSouth for the DSL, but we don't have either yet," I said. BellSouth is our regional phone company.
I wished for those responsible for not providing broadband access to this area to rot in hell for eternity. After all, I live in a city with a population of more than 130,000 that is one of the fastest-growing in the US. It is close to two major metropolitan areas: Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Why don't we have broadband yet?
I tried to keep the enthusiasm going. Our house was new, I told them, only 2 years old. We extended our patio. And - oh! - on the way out of the community please do stop by the clubhouse to see the pool and the tennis and basketball courts.
But I could tell that broadband access was important to Mr. Anderson. Suddenly I felt as if I was trying to sell him a one-room wooden shack without running water and electricity. And I felt powerless. The lack of broadband access made my house less attractive, and I had no control over it.
The incident underscores the importance that broadband access is gaining in the US, to the point that it has become a required feature in homes for some buyers. For a variety of reasons, more and more people these days feel they need fast Internet access at home. Eventually, it will be a standard feature. And the person whose house has only dial-up access to the Internet will have difficulty selling the property.
As for us, a week later we received two offers, and the prospective buyers got into a mini-bidding war, so we were able to sell the house for the price we wanted after having it on the market for only one month. Yes, despite its narrow data pipes. (Did I mention it's also under termite warranty?)The house we're moving into has no lake in the back, isn't in a gated community, has no garage, has one less room, has a smaller yard, is 60 years old, its roof and floor need fixing, and it costs significantly more because of its location. But it does have both DSL and cable Internet access. I'm sure Mr. Anderson would be happy to hear that.