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Tribune buys real estate site

"Newsday: May 23, 2006"

Tribune Interactive, a subsidiary of Newsday’s parent Tribune Co., has purchased a real estate Web site that helps homeowners to sell their properties on their own, the company said yesterday.

The Web site, Manhattan-based ForSaleByOwner.com, charges homeowners a fee – as high as about $900 in the Long Island area – for signs, an online slide show, a guide-book and an Internet listing, to help them sell their own homes. It also provides a search engine for home buyers to connect directly with the home sellers.

The terms of the deal, including the price Tribune paid, were not disclosed.

The deal comes at a time when the real estate market has quieted and the pace of sales has slowed. The agreement should help Tribune to maintain an “active” market for advertising real estate, according to Tribune Interactive vice-president Tom Finke in Chicago.

“This is an effort on our part to assure that the vitality of the classified marketplace, online and in print, continues into the future,” Finke said in an interview yesterday. “It gives us a national marketplace and a national footprint.”

But Tom Calabrese, vice president of operations for the Huntington-based Daniel Gale agency, noted yesterday that a real estate agent – not a by-owner service ­– is crucial in a slower real estate market. And he expressed some concern over the possibility that a key advertising forum will own a by-owner Web site.

“I don’t think it’s going to enhance a Realtor’s relationship with Newsday,” Calabresse said. “We will continue to use print media, but we’ll use it along with everything else. It could be that it will benefit everybody, but I don’t know.”

Tribune plans to reach out to the real estate brokers, who are some of its key advertisers, to assure them that the deal will help bring more consumers to their listings, even as it expands the field of private sellers, Finke said.

“Is it a concern? Sure. But think…brokers will conceptually understand the importance of continuing to have a vibrant marketplace,” he said.

Finke said the deal may also benefit Tribune’s relationship with another key advertiser, The Home Depot, which sells ForSaleByOwner.com signs.

Tribune plans on maintaining ForSaleByOwner.com’s 25 person staff in Manhattan along with the company’s Web site and brand, Finke said.

“We know things can change pretty rapidly in our space, and we wanted to make sure we were aligned with someone who could bring us to the next level,” said Colby Sambrotto, ForSaleByOwner.com’s chief operating officer. “That there are synergies between us is somewhat of an understatement.”

The Web site’s chief executive, Damon Giglio, is a Southhampton resident who also has a home in Manhattan.

Finke said he does not know yet how the purchase will change real estate advertising in Tribune’s newspapers or online. “It will look as it does right now for the time being, but we don’t have everything figured out yet,” he said.

The Tribune Company was represented by Sidley Austin LLP., Chicago, Illinois. ForSaleByOwner.com Corp. was represented by the Law Offices of Lawrence Pohly, Melville, New York.

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The above is intended to provide general information not specific legal advice or a recommendation. Legal advice can only be rendered to clients who have a retainer relationship with the law firm. To ensure compliance with requirements imposed by the IRS under Circular 230, we inform you that any U.S. federal tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments), unless otherwise specifically stated, was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any matters addressed herein.





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