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Sunday Boston Globe Real Estate Section...what happened to it?IGNITION Residential

The Sunday Boston Globe Real Estate Section

Where did you go….and are you coming back?

real-estate-print-ads-globeEvery Sunday morning, I turn immediately to the Boston Globe Sports Section.  While I appreciate the excellent coverage on a wide variety of sports (kudos especially to Dan Shaughnessy), this procedure, at one time, did not reflect my usual protocol for tearing into The Sunday Globe.

Up until a few years ago, I always headed immediately for the Sunday Real Estate Section, a fat section of the paper that was typically filled with a number of pages of large display ads touting various condominium projects that were under construction or recently completed.   Moreover, there were almost always articles (anyone in the business over 50 must remember Tony Yudis, a very nice man “who never met a project he didn’t like.”) about such projects, including those being contemplated by condominium developers in the greater Boston metropolitan area.

Those first few pages were followed by hundreds of classifieds that formed the basis for anyone contemplating the purchase or the rental of a home or a condominium in the Boston area (The Herald, as it remains today, was rarely a useful tool to be perused by those seeking a residence).   Of course, one might see the occasional glossy ad in Boston Magazine or in Playbill, but these were nothing more than “position pieces,” i.e., ads designed to bask in the reflected glory of their upscale publications.

Yes, for all intents and purposes, buying or renting a home was the sole province of the Boston Sunday Globe and, at the crack of dawn every Sunday morning, hundreds of brokers and potential customers waited for the earliest editions of The Globe to be dumped outside the many outlets that sold the Sunday paper.  First come, first served; The early bird catches the worm; and He Who Snoozes, Loses was the order of the day and more than a few brokers and homeowners were awakened by potential customers hoping to be the first to see a newly advertised property.

The St. George Newspaper Ad

The St. George Newspaper Ad

As a condominium developer, I especially enjoyed pouring over the Sunday Globe Real Estate Section in order to keep an eye on the competition regarding their newest projects — their respective locations, pricing, and amenities.  In addition, I pondered the creativity of their respective addesigners, trying to determine the message and the message behind the message.   As color became “de riguer,” the ads became even more informative and entertaining (An aside: I’d like to think that I pioneered the use of color in a real estate display ad with a  color rendering of a vintage pink 1959 Bentley that was the subject of a drawing at The St. George Seaside Condominiums & Beach Club on Revere Beach.  We had intended to promote the vehicle and its new owner, but when he turned out to be a notorious area gun-runner….).

Anyway, the Boston Sunday Globe was a work of art, not the equal of the New York Times Sunday Real Estate Section (and what is?), but something worthy of a cosmopolitan City like Boston.

*     *     *

Then, and I’m not certain of the date but, in all likelihood, it paralleled the rise of web-based marketing and the collapse of the national economy in late 2008, the Sunday Globe Real Estate Section became something akin to a supermarket supplement or the kind of real estate publication usually found at Turnpike rest stops.

Gone was anything akin to the ubiquitous Tony Yudis articles, gone were the many display ads, and gone was the Boston Sunday Globe as the definitive source of listings for potential renters and buyers to scour every Sunday morning.  Today, the front cover is almost always devoted to “The Home of The Week,” more often than not the brother or sister of an uninspired split level in Framingham accompanied by an equally uninspired description.

Is it a “chicken and the egg” thing?  Did the Sunday Globe Real Estate Section tank when the budgets of developers tanked, sometimes along with their projects…causing a lack of advertising revenue that caused the diminution of that section that caused developers to eschew advertising in it that caused….You get the idea.  Or was something less cyclical at work now?  After all, following every real estate bubble/crash, the revival was always accompanied by a resumption of advertising and the consequent swelling of the Sunday Real Estate Section.  In fact, for many years, there was a separate Saturday Real Estate Section/Page and, when times were really good, even a Friday Real Estate Section/Page!

This time might, in fact, be different for this is the first time that a decline in the real estate market has paralleled the creation and development of web-based marketing.  Now everyone can be their own advertising or public relations agency by utilizing the syncretic tools of “Inbound Marketing,” i.e., a web page, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, etc.  Just as cable news shows have decimated the monopoly on news that was once the sole province of the networks, the web is having an enormous negative influence on newspapers.   In the process, one wonders whether the Boston Globe Sunday Real Estate Section will ever be close to the invaluable, indisputable and unilateral resource for buyers, renters and sellers that it once was…

*     *     *

I may be wrong, but I have hope for the future of the Sunday Globe Real Estate Section – a hope strengthened every Sunday when I check out the Sunday New York Times Real Estate Section.  Replete with large display ads for the newest apartment and condominium developments, the Times also has stories on famous buildings in New York City, existing or lost, and almost always a lead story on Page One about a real estate trend in the greater New York Metropolitan Area.

Couldn’t Boston, a city soaked in architectural history that is surrounded by other historic communities with their own historic architectural lexicon support a weekly story on the buildings that are part of our everyday lives?  Couldn’t Boston have stories about local real estate trends or personalities every Sunday?  And, if they did, wouldn’t the advertisers return to tout their wares in an again popular part of the paper?  As a real estate developer, I know that I would!  And I also know that I’m not alone!

Despite web-based marketing, there will always be a place for traditional marketing, especially advertising done by a professional or articles created and planted by experienced public relations people.  In fact, that is the basis for our new multi-family marketing company, IGNITION Residential, which combines over three decades of traditional residential marketing with the best of web-based marketing.  And, if The Boston Sunday Globe makes even a half-hearted attempt to reflect the sophistication of the city whose name it bears, I can guarantee you that IGNITION Residential will have a lot of company in the expanded pages of a revitalized Boston Sunday Globe Real Estate Section.


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About Merrill Diamond

Merrill H. Diamond is a trained architect and a founding principal of IGNITION Residential, an interdisciplinary multi-family marketing firm. He is also a founding partner of Diamond/Sinacori, a Boston-based real estate development company founded in 1978. Mr. Diamond has been the recipient of numerous local and national awards for both development and marketing. He has served as both a gubernatorial appointee to the Massachusetts Historical Commission and to the Senate Special Commission on Historic Preservation. In addition, Mr. Diamond has been named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by Arthur Young / “Venture Magazine;” “Merchant Builder of the Year” by the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), and one of “America’s Most Valuable People” by “USA Today".

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7 Responses to “The Sunday Boston Globe Real Estate Section”

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