There’s always something to howl about

The Sunday Real Estate Section Advertisement Problem

REMAX Listing Sheet from papersLet’s all agree on the following:

  1. Most home buyers begin their home search on the Internet
  2. Most home buyers use Web-based software to “preview” homes online
  3. Most home buyers receive regular email/web updates from their agent about new homes worth previewing

If we know all of this to be true, why does my local newspaper’s Sunday Real Estate section get larger and larger every weekend?

If it’s to reach home buyers, I am going to laugh. That’s like advertising White Sox Gear for sale in a Cubs fan magazine — your target market is not in the audience.

So, I think you can make one of two arguments about Sunday Real Estate advertising: that the advertising is there is to make the seller “feel good”, or that it’s there to promote the brokerage’s brand.

Either way, it’s worth a re-evaluation.

For the money that is spent on newspaper advertising weekly, real estate agents could be providing more personalized services for home sellers including single-property listing URLs with custom Web design, better videography of the home, and higher-quality signage.

These are all items to which a buyer would respond favorably. In theory, that should lead to higher sales volume and nothing builds a brand name better than having “SOLD” hanging from a listing sign.

Image courtesy: The Village News

Related posts:
  • LA Times…the 1st of many?
  • Are you sick of all the bad news in the Sunday newspaper? You’re reading the wrong sections.
  • Mr Inman, less advertorial content please!


    9 Comments so far

    1. Kris Berg February 26th, 2007 10:00 am

      Amen! Steve and I, until about six months ago, were one of the biggest in-line advertisers in our area. The Union Tribune LOVED us. We knew even last summer that this medium was a non-starter (from the standpoint of actually selling our listings), but you are correct that many sellers wanted it, even demanded it.

      We have come full circle and do no advertising in the newspaper save our open houses. We had gotten to the point where we were spending thousands a month and receiving (let me stop and count…) NO calls from our ads, ever!

      In San Diego, I will tell you that the Sunday Homes section is the incredibly shrinking section. Each week, it gets smaller. With every new “top” agent that shuns the medium, more agents are following suit. The smart money is moving away from the newspaper and placing their efforts and resources elsewhere where it counts.

    2. Jonathan Greene February 26th, 2007 10:31 am

      I got roped into a year long subscription to a major real estate magazine (looks like readers digest) because I was new and didn’t know any better. By the time the subscription is up, my blogging efforts will have replaced the need to renew.

    3. Reuben Moore February 26th, 2007 10:57 am

      Well contrary to Kris Berg’s observations, our local (Raleigh, NC) newspaper real estate section is huge and definitely getting larger.

      I absolutely agree with your two reasons for this continuing trend. As for “promoting the brokerage’s brand,” all well-and-good, for the agent, and a total waste for the seller. This is a sham! Has this been explained to the seller? Does the fiduciary responsibility of the agent not require so? Perhaps not.

      What would any seller say, if the agent admitted: “One of the reasons our commission is so high is so that we can run newspaper ads “featuring” your property like a seashell on the beach, which will do absolutely nothing to sell your property but might get me some attention. In other words, I am going to charge you, my client, not to accomplish your goal, but rather to solicit additional clients for myself!”

      Yet another reason why real estate agents are so poorly regarded.

      Our firm offers flexible commission rates. One way we accomplish this is that we refuse to run print ads of any kind. It does not work and we simply share that with our sellers. Yep, sometimes they insist on it – and more often than not, we send them to another firm.

      We just do not want to be party to this marketing sham.

    4. Daniel Rothamel February 26th, 2007 11:10 am

      Short, sweet, and brilliant. Great post.

    5. Jim Duncan February 26th, 2007 11:28 am

      Two words regarding the local (Charlottesville) market’s Sunday paper: Open Houses.

      There was a good discussion on Inman about the need for an Open House aggregator of sorts.

    6. Marlow Harris February 26th, 2007 2:05 pm

      It may SEEM like all Buyers are looking online for real estate, but that is incorrect. According to a PEW report, 73% of Americans have internet access at home and of that number, only 39% have looked (at least once) online for housing.

      That is hardly a clear majority. I think that’s more like 28% of total American adults with internet access.

    7. Russ February 27th, 2007 12:34 pm

      Funny. I think one of the reasons is because sellers want to see their houses listed in the paper.

      Just last night I was watching some show called Buy Me where it showcases people who can’t get their homes sold. The sellers where not liking their Realtor and tore her a new one when she took out some small ad in the local newspaper. They wanted a big ad with a picture. The Realtor calmly explained that newspaper ads don’t work, but it went in one ear and out the other of the seller who demanded a newspaper ad. That one scene summed it up.

    8. philleto March 2nd, 2007 2:58 pm

      In theory they’re going after the people who don’t have computers, like to read the Sunday paper, put chickory in their coffee, and probably purchase glucosamine by the case.

    9. Eric August 25th, 2007 8:53 am

      “that the advertising is there is to make the seller “feel good””

      I remember when I started in RE working as an assistant – each of our listings went into Homes and Land.

      It was completely useless, but the sellers loved seeing their home in print. Then of course, that agent was more quantity than quality, but it was always sad to see money get wasted where we could have done online pushes, etc.