Newspapers Lose Battle for Real Estate Ads

Real estate advertising will become less prevalent in newspapers as it shifts to the Web, where online home buyers are actively searching for properties, analysts say.

Currently about 15 to 20 percent of real estate advertising is online, but Mike Simonton, media industry analyst for Fitch Ratings credit analysis service, says it is poised to go higher for a number of reasons.

Suzy Antal, director of marketing for Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, a unit of Prudential Financial Inc., said many Prudential practitioners have been pulling back on advertising during the current downturn, but as they return, they're shifting ad budgets to their own Web sites, creating blogs, and taking different approaches beyond newspapers.

"Is newspaper a high priority? No," Antal says. "I don't believe my buyers and sellers are going to be in that market."

Tim Fagan, president the real estate portion of Classified Ventures, which manages website for 125 newspapers, says it plans to "significantly increase" its investment in Homescape, a real estate-related Web site that provides home listings, but he declined to provide specific numbers.

It's wrong to assume that online advertising is cheaper than buying space in the paper, says Blanche Evans, editor of Realty Times, a online real estate news service. After all, online users expect extensive color photographs, lengthy descriptions, and even video tours —and all of those features can add up for a real estate practitioner.

Source: The Associated Press, Seth Sutel (07/27/2007)