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.
My 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But, of course, books take time to be printed and the listings in these books were regularly out-of-date.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?