A Realtor in the San Francisco area tried an experiment where he compared newspaper listings to web listings. He discovered that the newspapers drove virtually no people to see the homes in question, while 89% were web-based leads. He at first attributed this to the proximity to Silicon Valley, so he tried a second home in a “more traditional market” in the area.
His conclusion? Newspapers are dead. But he writes this:
So far, the data is backing up my original thesis that newspapers ads for homes for sale are about promoting the Realtor, not the house. Buyers find houses online, either via the MLS or online real estate tools like Oodle, Trulia, etc.
The question then becomes how effective are newspaper ads in convincing people to check out a Realtor’s web site? It’s possible that while individual home listings don’t matter per se, that the mere presence of the ad does serve a useful purpose. If they were web leads who found the web site via the newspaper, that would make them newspaper leads ultimately.
An interesting question. And I’d be very interested to see if Realtors from other parts of the country could share some data to help determine if this is a geographic phenomenon. It would also be interesting to see if it matters whether the house is at the high, middle, or low end of the regional market. Perhaps there is an income bias or an age bias? For instance, homes more appealing to empty nesters might do better in a newspaper than one more appropriate for a young family.
There are so many facets to the future of traditional media that it really is a fascinating area to watch.