Google: Goodbye to Real Estate Search

Filed in Featured, Google by Matt McGee on January 26, 2011 9 Comments

I can’t really explain enough how shocked I am that Google is ditching the real estate listings that currently show in Google Maps. Amazing.

Real estate is, in some ways, a pre-cursor to what we’re seeing now more generally with local search itself. Today, we often talk about how the yellow pages books are being replaced by web search. There are plenty of stories and numbers to back that up. That happened ages ago with real estate.

mls-book-1994My dad was a real estate agent, and every couple weeks it seemed that he’d bring home this enormously thick book with a blue cover that was filled with real estate listings. They looked like the image at right, which I’m borrowing from a blog post by Georgetown TX real estate agent Mike Sparks.

But, of course, books take time to be printed and the listings in these books were regularly out-of-date. The books included listings that had already been sold by the time they were printed and distributed, and didn’t include new listings that came on the market after the print deadline.

This was inefficent. Computers came along, as did the Internet, and real estate listings/search was forever changed. I haven’t seen nor heard of an MLS listings book still being printed in about forever. Here’s an article about the end of MLS book distribution in New Jersey that dates back to 2000.

Various studies in recent years have suggested that around 85% of home buyers begin their search online. Real estate search is too important for Google to ignore. That’s why today’s announcement surprises shocks me. They need to have a horse in that race. I’m sure they will again. I just wonder … how and when?

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  1. Why Google Real Estate Bit the Dust | Property Portal Watch | January 26, 2011
  1. Interesting to see them going this way, and I’m not surprised by you being shocked being that you know the real estate industry so well.

    Your comment of the books reminds me of my industry (healthcare) and how we use to wait quarterly to receive news/information about the profession. Print journals and magazine still exist, but we sure have all come a long way in a relatively short time.

  2. sL says:

    I never even knew it existed. Zillow is my go-to for Gooreal estate. Maybe if Google had made it known that it was out there, more people would have used it, and it would have been more viable for them to continue.

    • Matt McGee says:

      That’s a great point, SL. It was definitely hidden away as an option in the Maps interface. That may have been because Google wasn’t comfortable with the quantity/quality of the data? I don’t know. But I agree that it wasn’t promoted very much and that must play a role in the lack of adoption.

  3. My take: Each home is different and Real Estate Agents would be wise to use Google adWords to list homes for sale – inexpensive and easy.

    Site links in adWords could be used for subdivision listings to make the ad stand out.

    A lot of money could be saved by Realtors not getting conned by “dodgy seo” companies too


  4. Vlad says:

    No one was using them. I’m assuming that’s the reason for getting rid of the real estate listings. There are so many other ways to find real estate listings that people have been using for years. I don’t know how necessary it was for the real estate listings to show up on Google Maps.

  5. Mike Mueller says:

    I agree, Vlad. I was aware they existed but never used them, not did anyone else that I know of. Plus there are aggregators out there like Trulia that are doing it pretty well. Could it be Google would rather see real estate companies spending money on adwords? Surely they’re not that evil…

  6. Guys if I were a Real Estate Agent I would be on adWords – every home for sale with site links for neighbourhood listings below.

    I lived in the US for 15 years and started a small SEO and Design business back in 1997 B.G. Realtors were always my meanest clients and the ones that were most easy for dodgy SEO guys to rip off.

    It’s the same over here in England I find.

    For such a high profit business it’s amazing how the agents always want free from Google and gets ripped off consistently – adWords is worth it.


  7. Jeff says:

    It’s too bad that they are getting rid of these right when I’m about to start looking for a new home. My last Realtor was worthless, I found the house I live in now on my own online.

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