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The slow slog of real estate advertising on the net

In recent years, classifieds for cars and vacancies have been replaced by papers and other printed media, but real estate buyers have defied the allure. Once home values fall and stocks rise, will real estate buyers spend more of their advertising budget on the web? It could mean costing several hundred bucks or more for advertisements in a paper or real estate journal.

Unsurprisingly, some are equating real estate ad spend with the pumping of real estate funds into a well. Borrell and others forecast that as spend on printed products decreases, more information about real estate and related publicity will move from printed to inline. Expenditure on real estate advertisements in the first nine month of 2007 totalled $2.9 billion, a decrease of $739 million, or 20 per cent, over the same 2006 timeframe, according to the Newspaper Association of America.

Printed real estate advertisements in some countries have even dropped by 40 to 50 per cent, but Peter Zollman, founder director of Classified Intelligence, believes that they are in line with current business trends, not entirely in line with them. "But the pressure will never be as great again as it was a few years ago and will still be migrating at a constant rate online," he says.

Yet there is a vertiginous array of choices available on-line for vendors and estate agents, enough to cause cripples. Almost four out of five broker and agent have websites, according to a 2007 poll. However, 58 per cent say they are unhappy with the number and quantity of lead generation from these locations.

Thus, where can salespeople get the most attention and the greatest pop for their dollar for their promotional funds? Who profits when your ad money moves around the world? Earlier this month Yahoo got some sums for allowing estate agents and franchisers to post home listings for free. "You give me the advertisements for free and then I set up an public and advertise around them," Zollman says.

Yahoo real estate had already gained in importance before this trend. Google Real Estate does not appear in the top 10 real estate pages for comScore or Hitwise. "It is in the interest of real estate agents to submit their offers to as many homeowners as possible and share them with websites like Yahoo," says Steve Schultz, Yahoo Real Estate manager.

Among the recruiters are the common suspects: LendingTree, QuickenLoans and nationwide mortgages. Previously, Yahoo had reached an agreement with Prudential Real Estate to disclose offers. If you want to see more information about a protected building you have to contact Prudential. Prudential will abandon the obligation to registrate in case of further listing. However, the web has not had the same annoying effects on the real estate industry as other industries such as furniture, book and so on.

RealtyTrac's VP of Marketings, Rick Sharga, a website that gathers and discloses information about foreclosed houses, has a notion. Whilst the business continued to be viable and grow in 2007, Sharga says that the downswing still compelled RealtyTrac to continue diversifying its revenues. RealtyTrac, in what Sharga refers to as a combined advertisement and leads generating approach, now puts real estate pros in contact with anyone looking for enforcement help.

RealtyTrac, a real estate specialist, pays the sole right to an area according to the postcode. As Leslie Tyler, VP of Global Branding, says, "ZipRealty, a real estate agency, provides most of its ad spend going live on the web. These include payed and organically searched and flagged advertisements.

"At the moment things are looking bleak in the domestic press... But there will still be tens of thousands of people moving, tens of thousands of mortgages being granted," says Greg Schwartz, Zillows VP of Marketing Promotion. Zillows major rival is face-to-face marketing, not other real estate websites, Schwartz says. We help advertiser approach home owners by location, household value, psychological cluster, such as municipal households with kids, and other characteristics.

Watch out for Trulia, a website that calls itself a real estate finder. "Our earning power is based on advertisement, not on generating leads," says the company's "About us" page. Just this last weekend, another start-up named Roost launched a real estate finder. "It is difficult to find a long-term commercial policy that works," Zollman from Classified Intelligence commented.

com, because it does not provide features offered by other websites. Attention: The real estate and lawn promotion campaign has only just started.

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