Old School Real Estate Online Marketing

Filed in Small Biz Marketing by Matt McGee on August 26, 2009 12 Comments

The National Assn. of Realtors says that 84% of home buyers in 2009 use the Internet to search for homes. It wasn’t always this way. Back in the day, early adopter real estate agencies not only had to market themselves online, but they also had to convince buyers to get online, too.


That ad is from the July 30, 1995, edition of the Tri-City Herald – my local paper. July 1995 is the same month Amazon.com was born. It pre-dates eBay. It also pre-dates Google. Yahoo was about a year old. Couple things I love about this ad:

  1. “…hundreds of Windermere listings in neighborhoods across the Northwest” — today, if you don’t offer the full MLS on your real estate web site, you’re just not trying. But back then, it was the height of technological wizardry to even offer a selection of listings on the web.
  2. The second half of the ad isn’t a sales pitch for Windermere Real Estate, it’s a sales pitch to convince readers to get online. How crazy is that? But also, how smart is that? I’m guessing Windermere’s web site was ahead of the curve in 1995, and getting more people online to see and experience this was probably good for business.

Online marketing has obviously changed dramatically since this ad was published 14 years ago. But that’s nothing to the amount of change that’s coming in the next 14 years. Have you thought about where your business will be in 2023? Where your customers will be? How you’ll convince them to come along with you? Might be worth a few moments of your time…

Comments (12)

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  1. Mike Ramsey says:


    Coming from Burley,Idaho only about 4 real estate companies in this town even have a website, and probably 3 of them offer mls listings. I won’t describe the state of the sites. But, The other people in town feel like they get more bang for the buck putting their houses for sale in the local paper.

    I’m just real glad all those people from California moving to my town get our local paper all the way in California 😉

    So, though things change, some places are still trying to catch up with what is happening. I might have to start running my ads with info to the internet provider as well.

  2. Mark says:

    Funny thing is, even in 2002 I had a huge argument with one of the owners of Windermere – they wouldn’t allow their listings to be shown on Realtor.com. He was arguing that it better represented my house if it was only displayed on their website. The obvious, common sense, better strategy was to have as broad of advertising coverage as possible. He was obviously trying to protect the interests of his agents, not the best interest of me, the customer. Not sure if they have changed their policy about syndicating their listings to other sites.

  3. It is amazing to see this type of literature from before the day of the internet when you had convince people to actually use it. It’s pretty amazing to see.

  4. Chris says:

    Are you still in the Tri-Cities?

    By the way, great little piece. Did you just save the clipping?

  5. Matt McGee says:

    Still in Tri-Cities, Chris. And on the clip – my wife brought it home from the office. She’s a current Windermere agent.

  6. jason says:

    isn’t it amazing how far technology has come along? NOw the standard is you have to offer full MLS access plus the option for visitors to create accounts etc.

  7. Ryan Rose says:

    Wow! A blast from the past. I completely agree that if a RE site isn’t offering an MLS search, they’re not even trying.

    With most real estate sites starting to look the same, how do you think they can start differentiating themselves further?

    Great post Matt.

  8. Oglasnik says:

    I have a real estate website. For differentiating from others i`ve added the video presentations…It is positive.

  9. Courtney says:

    Hard to believe how far internet marketing has come. Harder still to believe is that some businesses are STILL not marketing online! A Pay Per Click campaign is a great way to start, as it gives businesses a high level of control and a measurable return on investment.

  10. Rod says:

    We sold our home if Fresno Ca by advertising online nearly 7 years ago, we then bought a home in Rugby, ND by finding it online, we then sold it online a year later and found another home online in Mena, Arkansas.
    Buying and selling real estate online through websites is a real asset to anyone who is into buying and selling real estate.. We have done it about 6 times so far and we are not Real estate professionals

  11. Scott G. says:

    What a great example of how time has changed the Internet, marketing, and the way consumer’s buy. We’ve become more tech savvy as a whole, but at the same time, we want more options, faster, and with less effort!

  12. Sam Dodd says:

    That is just simply awesome. If you think about it they were WAY ahead of the curve and you have to give them a little credit for that.

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