Property Classifieds are fast Moving to Web & Mobile Media!

News Posted - 2010-02-14

Like job and matrimonial classifieds, real estate classifieds are moving online, and India's popular national and regional newspapers are striving to catch up or will soon be jumping in. Rajeev Yadav buys ad space in a few English and Hindi News Papers and Magazines in Delhi NCR. But last March was a turning point for his real estate firm in Gurgaon. Instead of large and expensive print listings that he ran on 2-3 newspapers: he decided to put a small ad with and it told buyers to visit his Web site for detailed house listings - reducing his ad cost by almost 90%!

A recent survey by suggests that the real estate ad market is shifting hard from print to the Internet. For now, real estate ads in daily newspapers are doing well. But that won't last. Like North America, UK, etc, the Internet real estate ad market, will overtake the newspaper ad market in the coming years.

Apparently, the primary reason to stick with print is a relatively poor return on advertising from newspapers!! Home sellers are getting more informed and want to use the most effective medium to sell or rent homes. The shift in advertising, if it happens, will be years behind changes in shopping behavior by home buyers. A recent US survey revealed that around 80% of home buyers start searching online, and India is fast closing up.

Indeed, the Internet already drives consumer behavior. The bigger, more notable jump is in the %age of buyers who pick a home they first identified online, usually before consulting a dealer or agent.

In a booming market, when there is a huge market demand and investment craze builders use advertisement medium cleverly. It may change in a downturn, though. Over time the brokers and builders spending will get more strategic. Although we do not see much fanfare, the signs are clear enough now. Only a few companies in India are spending on their Web sites.

Smart brokers prefer to display other agencies' listings on their own Web sites under Multiple Listing Services; they are positioning their own sites as places to advertise all the houses in a market or location. That gives an agent a shot at a commission for representing a buyer even if they can't directly deal the listing.

The news print industry sees this coming and is responding. Times Group has launched it's classifieds portal and a few others big players are starting or planning to buy real estate Web sites, including home advise sites, apartment listing sites, and portals linking the online real estate sections of different sites.

We lack comprehensive data about online advertising industry in India. Some figures suggest that classified advertising of all types at newspaper industry Web sites is increasing. They are gearing up to shift their offline franchise to their online news sites - perhaps, some form of integration of print and the web versions is in the coming!

But the question isn't whether real estate ads will move online: It's how fast and whether news print websites can protect their share. Newspapers haven't been very effective in competing with Purely Online rivals so far, with newspapers losing big chunks of business in jobs and matrimonial, as those classifieds are fast moving to the Net.