For the past few years, many have watched the landscape of the Real Estate business change drastically. It has been transforming from a closed data system that only those with access to the MLS had the keys to unlock, to an open system where most listings can be found just about anywhere by anyone. Buyers can now find listings on sites such such as Trulia, Zillow, and yes, Google Maps, without having to unlock those doors to the MLS data. I have felt for a long time now that Google had the data and many of the pieces in place to be a huge player in the Real Estate space. Some recent announcements this year point even more towards that.
Improving Real Estate Search On Google Maps
On July 6th, 2009, Google announced that real estate listings would now display within a map with a one-box that would take you to real estate listings when users search for property related queries.
Google Retires The “One at a Time” Feature
On July 30th, 2009, Google announced that they would no longer allow manually entered single listings. Maybe I read into it wrong, but at the time of the announcement I translated that into Google wanting to target the large data providers.
Place Pages for Google Maps
In September, 2009, Google launched Place Pages. There are Place Pages for businesses, points of interest, transit stations, neighborhoods, landmarks, and cities all over the world.
More Real Estate in Google Maps
On October 29th, Google announced some changes to Google Maps that would make it easier for you to find listings. “First of all, we’ve made it easier to find real estate listings. Now, you can simply select “Real Estate” from the ‘More’ button on the top right of any Google Map to discover listings.”
Integration of real estate listings with Place Pages
On November 19th, Google mentioned the integration of real estate listings with Place Pages, saying “Now clicking the “more info” link next to a listing takes you to a faster, easier-to-read page that gives you all of the information we have about a listing: photos, inspection times, videos, details, a Street View preview and nearby public transit information if available, allowing you to quickly find the listing you want and click through to the sources of the listing.”
Google to Acquire Yelp?
On December 17th, 2009, rumors were flying around that Google was in discussions to acquire Yelp. Acquiring Yelp, in my opinion, would allow Google to enhance its real estate portal with ratings and other localized information.
Google to Acquire Trulia?
On December 18th, 2009, rumors surfaced that Google is in discussions to acquire Trulia. “According to sources close to the situation, along with its pending bid for Yelp, Google has been in on-again, off-again acquisition talks with Trulia”.
Is it just me here or does this look like a pattern? I personally feel that if Google purchases Yelp and Trulia, this will be another game changer in the Real Estate space. What will this do to the MLS? Will the many MLS’s be as important or will Google eventually be the main source for real estate search and data? After all, the MLS’s don’t have all the listing data. They don’t have FSBO listings, foreclosures, or other listings from Agents that don’t belong to the MLS.