The newspaper industry may be having trouble making their online divisions work, but one home magazine company says it would like the industry to look at its company a little differently. Blair Schmidt-Fellner, CEO of Homes & Land Affiliates, LLC says his company's success is all about direct contact and relationships with real estate agents listing higher-end properties.
"We have an interesting story. With 1,400,000 unique visitors a month, you could look at the metrics and say we're an also-ran, but of our 400,000 listings, we found the average price was $470,000."
According to Hitwise demographics, says Schmidt-Fellner, of people who make $150,000 or more, Homes & Land is number one for all real estate sites. "Forty-one percent of our traffic," says Schmidt-Fellner. "That's 468,000 people."
Homes & Land magazines are concentrated in high-end markets such as Malibu, but that finding encouraged the magazine franchisor to take a hard look at how magazines and online presentations are different.
A study using eBay found that automobiles with six pictures sell three times as often as those without, says Schmidt-Fellner. So if the Internet provides an environment where robust visuals such as multiple photos, virtual tours and videos work better in marketing than in the inch and page -conscious print media, how does a print magazine sell services to property agents?
"We first went with full motion video and failed," says Schmidt-Fellner. "We couldn't get enough videographers to do it fast enough, so we did the easy-to-use video tours."
The franchise's 342 publishers sell their services to local real estate agents and can price the video tours as they wish. According to Schmidt-Fellner, about one-third of Homes & Land have virtual or video tours, and in the 30 markets that publish tours such as Realtor.com and Trulia, the next highest site only has seven percent.
"Fifty percent of our listings have multiple photos, and the next sized site is Harmon Homes at 18 percent," says Schmidt-Fellner.
The reason the homes magazines are ahead of publicly held or IPO-bound sites is that the latter rely on feeds, rather than relationships with individual agents.
"We're trying to move some homes," says Schmidt-Fellner. "Online requires a separate strategy from the magazine. The magazine points people to the Internet."