You likely have already heard the news that Google is removing their real estate listings from Google Maps. You might have even attended the Webinar yesterday with Gahlord Dewald (Thought Faucet), Mike Simonsen (Altos Research), Dustin Luther (4realz), and Rich Bailey (Wolfnet).
But, let’s be real here. Does this news really “change” anything? What does the lack of real estate listings on Google maps mean to consumers? Nothing, zilch, nada. Have you ever talked to an home buyer using Google maps to search for their next home? That’s what I thought. Do you personally get bunch of traffic from Google base? I doubt it. Not once have I heard an agent or broker tell me they are seeing considerable traffic from Google Base/Google Maps; Zillow, Yahoo Real Estate and Trulia are still king in sending traffic and leads to brokers and agents.
So from a consumers perspective, no one — and I mean no one — should even bat an eye at this news. And from the agent/broker perspective, I’d argue no one is really going to notice the difference.
When you really think about this news, it’s just such a no-brainer for Google. They are making a killing with their existing Adwords service in the real estate vertical. Why would they spend time, effort, and money cannibalizing that revenue stream by continuing to invest in a product that’s not working? It just doesn’t make any business sense, and they obviously agree. It’s certainly a small win for the execs at Yahoo, Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com since they now have to worry a LITTLE less about Google taking over the real estate industry.
THE ACTUAL NEWS
Personally, I think the big big winners in all of this are actually the IDX vendors — a group I haven’t really heard even mentioned this week (though I was not on the webinar yesterday). There were some Google Base based IDX solutions such as RealBird who, with the imminent shutdown of Google Base, all of a sudden have to radically change their business model and real estate offerings, or cease to exist. None of these search offerings based on Google Base data are perfect, but are (were) certainly a cheaper alternative to put listings on a website for those agents who choose to go without an IDX product. Now, those possibilities are off the table — so the remaining options for those agents and brokers without IDX are to do one of the following:
- Put no listings on their website — horrible idea
- Only put their own listings on their website — not what consumers want, and hence not a good idea
- Link a “home search” button off to an aggregator such as Zillow — with cobranding, this is probably the best idea of the bunch for the budget-conscious. But still not ideal.
Or, those agents and brokers can get with the program and give consumers a completely integrated search experience right from their own website. And pay an IDX vendor for that service. Let’s be honest, if an agent can’t afford a monthly payment for an IDX service to provide the home search functionality that they KNOW buyers are looking for — they don’t have a business.
Winners = IDX Vendors.
Ok, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Update: You can listen to the webinar (or read the transcript of it) conducted the other day here. Turns out IDX vendors did get a fair amount of air time.