This past Thursday was the first time in many years that my company’s listings did not fill the center spread of the Mammoth Times. And I seriously doubt whether they will occupy space like that in the future. I think this change is a reflection of trends in the real estate industry as a whole, and of how things have changed here in Mammoth.
This all started because our annual advertising contract with the Mammoth Times was up for renewal in late January. I would like to think that we were good customers of the Mammoth Times. We are efficient to work with and we pay our bill. And I can’t ever recall them complaining about US. So this year they came at us with a nearly 20% increase in our ad rates–and that made the associates in my company stop and think. As one of my associates said “If they would have recognized our past patronage and also recognized we are in a slower market and likely in a drought winter and just renewed us at our current rate or a modest increase like they have in the past, we would not have thought twice.” Instead, the group took at hard look at our marketing plan and decided to move in different directions.
This is a small example of a more common trend around Mammoth these days. The Mammoth Times is now owned by a corporation from back east, not the local founder/publisher we dealt with for many years. Management and personnel changes regularly. Most of the employees wouldn’t even know who I am on the street and I was their biggest advertiser. Our contract alone had to pay a couple of good salaries.
The willingness of my associates to walk away from this major print advertising campaign is a clear sign of the modernization of the real estate industry. While people often casually pick up local real estate publications, today serious buyers are clearly doing their homework online. As more and more people become Internet connected and web savvy, print advertising is becoming increasingly obsolete and extinct. This has become especially true in the real estate industry.
The evolution of more sophisticated Multiple Listing Service (MLS) software that interfaces with the Internet gives the consumer real-time data almost equal to the Realtor@ themselves. The days of the Realtor® hording the information are gone. Rather than a simple photo and brief blurb about the property (like in most print media), the consumer can now see lots of photos and a significant amount of data about the property. The Mammoth Lakes Board of Realtors®, despite being a relatively small Board, has an excellent MLS software and database that is available to the public through a multitude of websites. The cost of owning, operating and maintaining websites is a fraction of print media and far more effective. It is a big win for both buyers and sellers.
Interestingly enough, some of Mammoth’s most successful and expert retailers are reporting significant sales online. Their online sales numbers may someday soon exceed those of their “bricks and mortar” stores. Things are indeed changing.
The emphasis of marketing Mammoth real estate online only compels buyers and sellers to work with experienced agents. The proper representation of properties online takes additional skills, and for buyers, interpreting what all of the information means is critical in today’s market. The MLS data is only a small part of the whole story.
Hey, I got to go. The Mammoth Times is calling again.