by Dan Krell © 2013
The big news this week is of course Jeff Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post. Why would the man who predicted the demise print media pay $250 million for a regional newspaper and a handful of associated local papers?
If the real estate business is a window into how media plays a role in the daily lives of the average American, then Bezos’ purchase might be a head scratcher. Over the last five years, the National Association of Realtors® annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers (realtor.org) has demonstrated how the internet has increasingly played a role in how home buyers actively searched for homes. In 2007, the Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicated that about 60% of home buyers completely relied on the internet to search for their home, while about 21% did not use the internet at all in their search. Compare those statistics to the 2012 Profile, which reported that 90% of home buyers used the internet to search for homes; and home buyers who were younger than 44 years of age, the use of the internet is reported to be 96%!
It seems as if home buyers relied on the weekend real estate sections of the paper for a leg up on new home listings and open houses. Real estate agents and brokers happily paid to have their listings included in what seemed to be the weekly catalog of homes for sale. In addition to the home listings, print real estate sections also included other related information (such as decorating, renovation, and buying/selling tips).
However, as the NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicated, there was a sharp increase in the reliance of the internet to search for homes from 2007 -2012. The time frame is no coincidence; besides the exponential increase in technology and computing power during this period, it also covers the housing bust and subsequent foreclosure crisis. This was a time of tight advertising budgets and the search for efficient advertising modes; the internet offered a bigger bang for the advertising dollar, offering a more robust real estate platform than print could ever offer.
And although there was a colossal increase in the reliance of the internet for real estate listing information in the last five years, there was a consolidation and reorganization of online real estate content during that time frame as well. As the housing market declined in 2007, many sites stopped syndicating their own content and instead partnered with one of the high profile, well organized real estate portals.
It might seem as if the purchase of the Washington Post by an internet visionary who had once foretold the death of printed news might be confusing. But if you understand the Amazon.com business model and how it revolutionized the purchase and delivery of print and recorded media, you would not speculate that the purchase of the venerable news organization was to expand an internet empire to the newsstand – but rather you might believe that the purchase was to acquire a widely recognized brand that generates a considerable amount of content that can be packaged and sold through Bezos’ established model.
Just as the internet revolutionized real estate content and home listings, you might imagine how Bezos’ novel news paradigm could increase the robustness of content and distribution of home and open house listings.
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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of August 5, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.