After owning the domain realestatenews.com “for the better part of two decades,” author, consultant and analyst Stefan Swanepoel says he’s ready to put it to use.
Swanepoel, founder and executive chairman of the T3 Sixty real estate consultancy, announced plans this week to launch Real Estate News this fall, promising a “factual, objective, relevant, concise, to-the-point” news source for the residential real estate brokerage industry, as he explained during a webcast about the site.
Real Estate News will have plenty of real estate news to cover, as the housing market grapples with the effects of the economic downturn and rising mortgage rates. But on the business side, those same economic factors also make it a challenging moment to launch a news site tied to the industry.
Swanepoel and T3 Sixty are funding the site, he said during the webcast. He’ll serve as chairman. However, he added, Real Estate News will operate independently, without involvement from T3 Sixty’s employees, to maintain editorial integrity.
Swanepoel named two Seattle-area tech and media veterans to lead the new site.
- Mitch Robinson, a longtime marketing leader known for his past work at companies including Expedia and Zillow, was promoted to president of Real Estate News. After working at Tomo, a mortgage startup founded by two other Zillow veterans, Robinson joined T3 Sixty last year as executive vice president.
- Stephanie Reid-Simons, most recently Zillow’s senior director of content strategy and creative operations, will lead the site’s news team as senior vice president. Reid-Simons is a journalist who worked at The (Tacoma) News Tribune and Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in addition to Amazon and its subsidiary Woot.
The business model for Real Estate News will include advertising and subscriptions, Robinson said in a follow-up call.
“But the important thing is that we’re part of a larger entity with a lot of resources,” Robinson said. “So we’re not a media startup out on our own. We have the benefit of being part of T3 Sixty, which will allow us to build a site based on journalism, the right way.”
He said the current housing downturn shouldn’t have much of an impact, given the overall pool of potential readers. T3 Sixty estimates that there are 2.7 million licensed agents and more than 100,000 brokerage companies in the United States.
Swanepoel noted on the webcast that Real Estate News will benefit from T3 Sixty research such as the Swanepoel Trends Report, Real Estate Almanac, and the Swanepoel Power 200 ranking of real estate industry leaders.
Reid-Simons, speaking on the webcast, called T3 Sixty’s research a “journalistic gold mine,” saying it’s gratifying “to be trusted to carry forth our journalistic work with the kind of moat that empowers our credibility as a news source.”
The site will start with about 10 staffers across editorial and business functions, Robinson said.
Real Estate News is jumping into an evolving real estate media landscape that includes several longstanding news outlets, many of which have referenced and quoted Swanepoel frequently over the years.
“Choice is really a valuable thing,” Robinson said of the competitive landscape. “The more choice you can provide to our industry, the better off people are. Each outlet has their own news, their own style, their own focus, and we think we’ll bring a fresh, new, objective, and concise way of doing things.”
Swanepoel directly addressed other real estate news sites during the webcast, crediting them for their contributions to the industry.
He said he sees Real Estate News as a complement, more than a competitor: “We are not replacing any of you,” he said. “We are an additional voice to the industry.”
Editor’s Note: GeekWire co-founders Todd Bishop and John Cook, and several other members of the GeekWire team, worked for many years with Stephanie Reid-Simons at the Seattle P-I.