Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Real Estate printing

The residential Real Estate business has been unquestionably the most frequently targeted vertical markets for the printer industry's Small Business initiatives over the last few years (see "Real estate marketing made easy" from HP (NYSE HPQ), for an example.) The industry's printing needs -- particularly those ubiquitous sales pieces consisting of relatively short run, one- or two-page (duplex) flyers -- have been a great fit with the growing category of low-cost color (particularly laser) printers. Most anyone in the market for a new home has been exposed to a plethora of these print pieces, whether as hand-outs during open houses or as take-aways from those mail-box-like containers that grace virtually every "For Sale" sign out there.

Of course, the residential real estate market has been the source of much negative economic news for quite awhile now, with housing values and sales both down drastically, at least in many areas, along with the intertwined sub-prime mortgage mess and its fallout. So I've wondered what affects this may have had on the Real Estate Printing opportunity? One thing I've personally noticed -- many of those sign-based flyers are now more commonly available in good old black-and-white rather than color. Makes sense -- lower cost per page, and with properties potentially on the market much longer these days, the short runs aren't so short any more! (Not sure if durability of monochrome prints versus color would play a part here too.)

And just when things may be looking up slightly for residential housing here comes this from TechCrunch and Michael Arrington. Although his piece "Computer vs Realtor: Computer Wins. Twice." really is about Redfin and their disintermediation of the buy-side agent, the bigger picture speaks to the overall long-term threat to this ultimate "small business" and their traditionally print-heavy practices.


Anonymous said...

1. Realtors do not market properties - they market themselves. All those leaflet drops, signs and stuff are for them to generate listings.
Seller:1, Realtor:1

2. Realtors increasingly print in-house. The last stronghold is signs. Can't be done effectively in house. Cowboys who don't belong to an office do outsource their printing, but they were the first ones to be affected by the slowdown.
HP:1, LocalPrinter:0

Anonymous said...

More on a local note: zillow.com now also covers Boise, ID - this should create even more new competition for Realtors :)