November 2006 Archives

Do Real Estate Agents Have a Secret Agenda?

James Hagerty and Ruth Simon:

Home buyers have a new reason to be wary in this weakening housing market: Real-estate agents increasingly have lucrative incentives to push one home over another.

Slow sales have prompted builders and some individual sellers to offer unusually generous incentives to agents whose clients buy a home. Sellers normally pay the buyer's agent 2% to 3% of the home's price. Now many are offering thousands of dollars or other rewards, such as travel vouchers, on top of the normal commission.

Such incentives have long been used to sell some homes. But they have proliferated and become more generous recently as a glut of properties on the market makes it harder to sell homes. "These guys are desperate," Ivy Zelman, a Cleveland-based housing analyst at Credit Suisse Group, says of home builders.

This sales phenomena is not unique to real estate. Many industries offer a variety of volume salesperson bonuses. Lucy Maher has more.

The Top 10 Lies of Web 2.0

Dan Fost:

Now, just in time for the Web 2.0 conference, which gets under way Tuesday at San Francisco's Sheraton Palace Hotel, we bring you The Chronicle's list of... the Top 10 Lies of Web 2.0. (We had a little help but, hey, Web 2.0 is all about sharing, isn't it?)

1. We learned our lesson last time. And we're going to cash out before this bubble pops.

2. This is not a bubble. Hot parties, overheated PR pitches, and five or six dozen social networking sites are just healthy indicators of a new boom.

IACI (Parent of LendingTree) Third Quarter Financials


Newspaper Circulation Continues to Decline

Katherine Seelye:

The circulation of the nation’s daily newspapers plunged during the latest reporting period in one of the sharpest declines in recent history, according to data released yesterday. The slide continues a decades-long trend and adds to the woes of a mature industry already struggling with layoffs and facing the potential sale of some of its flagships.

Over all, average daily circulation dropped by 2.8 percent during the six-month period ended Sept. 30, compared with the period last year, according to an industry analysis of data released by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. Circulation for Sunday papers fell by 3.4 percent.

The figures appear to be the steepest in any comparable six-month period in at least 15 years. They come after the sale of the Knight Ridder newspapers this year and in the midst of a possible sale of the Tribune Company, whose assets include 11 newspapers. The circulation losses also follow recent sour earnings reports, raising questions about why anyone would want to buy a newspaper now.

  • Emily Steel:
    Broad Decline May Hasten, Move to Hone Web Focus; New York Tabloids Log Gains
  • Louise Story:
    Indeed, the Internet draws only a sliver of the total spent on advertisements. Last year, Internet ads accounted for just 4.7 percent, or $12.5 billion, of the $267 billion spent on advertising, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade association of online publishers. And the top 50 advertisers spent just 3.8 percent of their budgets in the first half of this year on online ads, excluding search, TNS Media Intelligence data shows. For all other advertisers, the average spent online was 6.8 percent of the budget.
    Procter & Gamble, the nation’s biggest advertiser last year, spent $33.5 million — less than 1 percent of its $4.6 billion ad budget — on online ads in 2005. General Motors, the second-biggest advertiser, spent $110.5 million online, or 2.5 percent of its $4.35 billion total, according to TNS, which does not include search ads in its figures.
    Interestingly, advertisers continue to spend an inordinate amount of money where the eyeballs used to be.
  • David Weinberger:
    Another reminder of how much things have changed: The discontent about the use of electronic voting machines has become an issue almost entirely because of the Web. The people who have made it an issue are not reporters but scientists and researchers who have published directly to readers. That's how they've gotten traction. And that's new.
Jeff Jarvis points out the dark clouds within the silver lining of newspaper website traffic.

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