Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Exploring the Competition

How real estate agents are leveraging online tools other than newspaper to market themselves
newspapers can regain control of the agents in the local area, as long as we’re aware of what the competition has to offer and how agents are using it.

In today’s market, real estate agents are using any and every media outlet to leverage the industry with their brand. Most are incorporating free web tools that newspapers just don’t offer; at least they don’t offer them yet. With the emergence of mobile technology and the incorporation of the Internet on a smartphone or tablet, newspapers can regain control of the agents in the local area, as long as we’re aware of what the competition has to offer and how agents are using it.

Studies show that no longer are Realtors® the first contact when a buyer is looking for a home. In 2010, the Internet proved to be the first contact for more than 90 percent of all buyers; newspapers only acquired about 40 percent of buyers.

Studies show that no longer are Realtors® the first contact when a buyer is looking for a home. In 2010, the Internet proved to be the first contact for more than 90 percent of all buyers; newspapers only acquired about 40 percent of buyers.

So, in recent years, real estate agents have been integrating free online tools, like Trulia and Zillow, to their personal websites to help show their listings, and other listings in the area. No longer are agents soliciting to garner a solo commission on a real estate transaction, rather opting to gain any commission on a deal at all.

Trulia, is a real estate search engine that helps buyers find homes for sale and provides essential information at a local level to help with the decision making process. Their aim is to be an easy and smart tool for buyers when they’re looking for a home to purchase. They arm viewers with information and data about specific homes, as well as information on the local real estate market and market value. Their team is comprised of engineers and analysts to help interpret the information. They allow “real estate professionals to market their listings, view real estate data and promote their services.” Similar to newspapers, they make money through advertising. “Real estate professionals and organizations currently spend around $11 billion every year on their marketing. Our business model is pretty simple — we create the best real estate search experience on the web; you, your family and friends use us; real estate professionals and service providers advertise on our site; we continue to innovate to create an even better real estate search experience.” Is it just me, or does that sound a lot like what newspapers’ have done in print for the last century or so?

Trulia has a simple and straightforward set of core values. They feel that looking for a home shouldn’t be a miserable experience, information should be made freely and easily available to everyone, most home buyers/sellers will work with a real estate professional for guidance and most importantly, great ideas come from user feedback. Why didn’t we think of that? A feedback section for classifieds, could it work? Seems to be for them.

Agents use Trulia mostly as a marketing tool. An agent on Trulia says, “Seller’s are becoming more and more Internet savvy and aware. I incorporate websites into my presentations and Trulia has a very good look and feel to its’ website.”

Seller’s are becoming more and more Internet savvy and aware. I incorporate websites into my presentations and Trulia has a very good look and feel to its’ website.” 

She later continues, “On my website, I like it when visitors can surf sites that I list, but remain on my web page. This way they can continue to search my webpage(s) without having to click back.”

Zillow is another web resource available for agents. Their mission is “to empower consumers with information and tools to make smart decisions about homes, real estate and mortgages.” They are a home and real estate marketplace that helps homeowners, buyers, sellers, renters, agents, lenders, landlords and property managers find and share information about the real estate industry at a local level. They claim to be “transforming the way consumers make home-related decisions and connect with real estate professionals.”Their unique name is also transforming the marketplace. Zillow evolved from their desire to make “zillons of data points for homes accessible to everyone.”

While more agents tend to prefer Trulia, Zillow is becoming a powerful force. It is a force that is disrupting the success of newspapers online. Newspapers need to learn these tools, and find a way to use them or create a smaller local version of them online and for the newest mobile technologies.