Google Maps Enter the Real Estate Search Field
July 7, 2009 Leave a comment
Google just upped the ante in the competitive field of real estate listing search engines. In a move that certainly had a few established players (i.e. REALTOR.com, Zillow, Tulia, et.al.) do a double take, Google Maps incorporated a new tool into its site that links buyers and renters to available properties. The feature was only launched in Australia and New Zealand yesterday, but I understand that selected metropolitan areas in the United States are already able to utilize the service.
The following is an instructional video on how to utilize the service:
So what’s the big deal?
Google’s offering is FREE and will be open to anyone, including For Sale By Owners (FSBO‘s), which will give buyers and renters a much larger selection of inventory to browse through. Although many existing publishers and real estate agents offer map-based searching, the maps on Google’s new service will reflect real-time changes in search criteria and location. One advantage that existing publishers offer is more social features like property comparisons, blogging and interactive Q&A’s. But if anyone thinks that this is the final refinement to Google’s real estate mapping feature, you must be out of your mind. In my opinion, Google is a player to be reckoned with and they’re not about to let any other property listing publishers put out a better product. Google product manager, Andrew Foster, said the decision to launch the new service was driven in part by research showing that, increasingly, more people were using the internet to search for a home to buy or rent. In addition, he revealed that Google has experienced a thirty-five percent growth in real estate related queries since February of this year.
How does this impact you? If you are an agent or broker and not currently syndicating your listings to Google, you’re certainly missing out on some exposure to home buyers. Sure, buyers may not naturally think to use Google Maps to find real estate listings, but Google is the largest game in town in terms of traffic. I’m sure they can and will figure out plenty of ways to drive more traffic to the real estate search experience now that it’s integrated inside Google Maps.
It will be very interesting to see how this power grab plays out over the next couple of months. Will this be Google’s original foray into trying to establish a national property database that is open to the public?
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