In his updates from the CUNY New Business Models for News forum in Aspen, Jeff Jarvis discusses how a Salt Lake City newspaper acquired a real estate agency in order to sell houses as an alternative commercial venture.
Also here at Aspen, I was amazed and impressed to hear newspaper owner Dean Singleton tell some of us that his Salt Lake City paper has bought a realty agency and will list homes for a flat fee of a few thousand. Yes, the paper undercuts other agencies’ listings businesss. But, hey, the agencies have pretty much abandoned newspapers and newspapers still have readers and the ability to market homes in print and online. In Salt Lake’s case, the paper will send buyers – rather than sellers – to agencies that advertise.
When I worked in the newspaper industry way back at the start of the consumer web, I tried to convince papers to just this: to get into the real estate business to get homes into the listings and to get access to listings data. I thought I was going to be killed. But I believe that this was an inevitability.
Singleton’s move is the ecommerce strategy we presented in our models made substantial and real. We talked with the Telegraph’s Edward Roussel about their sales of wine, hangers, and hats. Selling homes is certainly bigger ticket. It monetizes the relationship papers have with readers in a new and smart way.
With the Breaking News Media Network, real estate brokerages and agents are using the same strategy, only opposite that of the media companies. They are building Breaking News city sites like Chico Breaking News in order to develop their community media presence as a branding vehicle. Note that the real estate participants in the Breaking News Network adhere to the idea that the sites are community services, so with a few exceptions, it’s almost impossible to see that a real estate brokerage or agent is behind them. Yet, their presence is always there because they are communicating with the community through the site. This is the new wave of marketing that real estate is beginning to adopt to attract the community for business rather than spam them to death with drip marketing techniques.
(tx h/t Tom Royce)