It's Thursday and I usually try to find an old post to bring back to life, but I'm writing a new post based on an old post I stumbled across that I wrote in February 2006. It was titled More Home Buyers Search the Internet First. I believe when I first wrote it the stats were that around 82% of real estate buyers search the Internet first. Then I updated it to 90%. If you do an Internet search you'll see those old stats and a slew of different figures all the way up to 99%. I feel it's somewhere between 90%-99%.
It's not news that print advertising has died out for real estate
I used to advertise in the Southtown Economist, Sunday edition. Sometimes they'd offer a deal for the entire weekend and once in a while, they'd have open house specials. The Internet hurt newspapers big time. The Southtown Economist joined forces with The Star Newspaper (not the same as Star Magazine) and changed their name to The Southtown-Star.
But guess what? I just looked them up online and it appears they don't have a standalone newspaper any longer. My husband and real estate team member Jimmy Herter said he thought they merged with The Chicago Tribune and it looks like that's what happened. It is now called The Daily Southtown.
That's a shame as it was a great local paper that I used to have a delivery subscription to. Jimmy has The Chicago Tribune delivered on Sunday only. I don't look at it. I'm Internet all the way!
It appears that The Daily Southtown, found through the Chicago Tribune site, still offers south/southwest suburban news like it used to. However, I couldn't find a Classified section, although I didn't drill down too deep. I would send renters to The Southtown-Star because most local landlords would advertise in the Sunday edition. I've still been suggesting the newspaper and today learned that I can't do that any longer. We do have some rental listings in the MLS, and we're getting more than we used to get in the past, but we don't have every rental listing that's out there as landlords have to pay us to list with us, so in the past they used the local papers.
We do have super-local papers like The Homer Horizon and The Orland Park Prairie. We get both delivered and there are some real estate ads in those papers.
Then why do some real estate agents still advertise in newspapers?
The two hyper-local newspapers I mentioned above do have small real estate sections. Some agents have ads in them. Why, if so few buyers use print advertising to find homes? It's called "branding". These agents/brokerages are usually located in the specific towns the newspapers are published in. It's a way to get their name out to the public in the hopes that when someone in one of those towns needs to buy or sell a home, they'll remember the name of a particular agent from their advertising in those small newspapers. Even if they don't remember the name outright, they'll find it the next time they get their local paper.
However, branding is different from marketing a property. Branding is about the agent and/or brokerage - to get name recognition. Marketing is about selling a particular property. Why would anyone want to search for homes looking at small black and white photos of only the exterior of a home and read a very short blurb that doesn't provide much information? Usually, the price isn't listed so you have to call the agent to get it.
On the other hand, searching for homes on the Internet tells you pretty much everything you need to know and lets you build a list of homes you would actually consider. This website provides more details than a lot of local sites. You'll get real estate taxes, monthly home owner's association fees, and a list of rooms and room sizes, if available from the MLS. You'll also be able to view all photos provided by the different listing agents plus any virtual tours associated with those listings. You just can't find this kind of information in a newspaper.
Even in their heyday, newspapers rarely sold the homes people called on
Newspapers are very similar to open houses in their ability to actually sell the home that was advertised. I've spent thousands on newspaper advertising, especially since I got licensed in 1983 and no one was using the Internet yet. We had "floor time" at the brokerage I was with where we would field calls from newspaper advertising (because that was the only source of real estate listings at the time). I don't think I ever sold a property that someone called about.
The trick was to get the caller to like you and feel comfortable working with you. We tried to get them to allow us to print out a list of all available properties in their price range, areas, and with the amenities they wanted. Then we either mailed them the list or set an appointment to meet us in the office. So they might have called on one property advertised in the paper, but once we told them the price or number of bedrooms, they realized that property didn't fit their needs. But if they liked us and weren't working with another agent, they allowed us to continue working with them and providing them with updated lists of available properties.
The truth was, not all of our inventory was advertised to begin with. Brokers usually selected specific properties to advertise in the newspapers. My broker always picked one of our lowest-priced homes and of course, that would get us a lot of calls. Most of the time those homes needed work and wouldn't appeal to many buyers. So we'd tell them about the home and they would realize it wouldn't fit the bill. Then we'd try to get them to let us send them a list of homes that would be more in tune with their needs.
It almost sounds like bait and switch, but the homes we advertised were available at the time of sending in the ad to whatever publication was used. Since buyers were always interested in getting a deal, these kinds of ads made our phones ring.
What about real estate-specific magazines/publications?
I also spent thousands on these types of publications with very little in return. I used to advertise in the local homes magazines more than in the local newspapers. These were the free magazines you'd find at grocery stores, gas stations, 7-11's, etc. I think they're still out there but once again, it's mostly name recognition/branding. The bottom line is, people might pick up these free publications for fun. If they're real buyers they will continue their search on the Internet because they want to see more than one photo and 3 small lines of print information.
You won't find all available listings in a newspaper
Since most agents and brokerages no longer advertise in newspapers, you'll only be seeing a select few listings out of the thousands available in our Multiple Listing Service (MLS). Why bother? For instance, on this site, you can easily search for Scottsdale real estate. A basic search is already created on this page to search single-family Scottsdale homes for sale. You can tweak your search with more advanced options such as price range, number of bedrooms and baths, etc. You can also add more towns to the search. Most buyers search in multiple towns. You can't do this with a newspaper!
If you've found an agent you'd like to work with - and we hope it's The Judy Orr Team - then the best way to search is to have us create an Automated Search directly through our MLS. You'll get your own little search results page/site and you can checkmark the properties you're interested in. Then we can see those properties and it makes coordination and showing set-up easier for both of us. You'll be able to keep track of the properties you'd actually like to see and can even write notes in before or after viewing the places you've saved. If you're interested just click here. We'll set you up with a search to help you find the property that fits everything you need and want. We can easily edit the search to add or remove areas or amenities.Posted by Judy Orr on