“But what if we bundled the music CDs with the houses…”

Associated Press:

It’s bad enough that a cratering housing market is leading to a slump in real estate advertising at newspapers, as a dreary series of earnings reports showed last week.

What’s worse is that a lot of that advertising may never come back to newspapers even if the real estate sector recovers. That’s because a significant chunk of those advertising dollars are moving — you guessed, online.

…What’s worrying analysts this time around is that real estate could become the next category of classified advertising — after help-wanted ads — to mark a significant and permanent shift away onto the Internet. The stakes are big for newspapers since classifieds are highly lucrative and make up more than 35 percent of their revenues. …

Representatives of several major real estate franchisors said in interviews that many home sellers still see newspaper advertising as an essential component of selling a home, but that younger brokers, home sellers and buyers are clearly more focused on using the Internet.

…Abby Lee, director of regional advertising in Denver for RE/MAX, a major real estate franchisor, [said,] “With younger agents, there’s a trend of going online. There’s a realization that’s where they need to be.”

Suzy Antal, director of marketing, communications and public relations for Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, a unit of Prudential Financial Inc., said many Prudential agents have been pulling back on advertising during the current downturn, but as they return, they’re shifting ad budgets to their own Web sites, creating blogs, and taking different approaches beyond newspapers.

“Is newspaper a high priority? No,” Antal said. “I don’t believe my buyers and sellers are going to be in that market.” …

As home-buyers flock online, it’s also tough on realtors, [Blanche Evans, the editor of Realty Times] said, since home-buyers are becoming accustomed to seeing extensive color photos, descriptions of the neighborhood as well as video tours of the property — all of which costs money to produce.

With all the online tools available today, realtors “have the ability now to really expose the property in a significant way,” Evans said. “People have the ability to tour the house. That has changed everything.”