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Monday, March 5, 2007

Google – The Home of Real Estate Search

Posted by @ 4:17 pm

In a deal that has been on the burner for some time, Google and real estate search engine Trulia will host the 500,000 property listings of the Realogy Corporation. Realogy Corporation owns well known real estate firms Century 21, Coldwell Banker and ERA.

Real estate listings online are nothing new, but as the success of online exposure has grown, so has the number of search engines and portals trying to service the industry. This splintering of sources has diminished the value of each, as there is no single comprehensive place for potential buyers to view their real estate options.

While the new Google deal won’t address this issue immediately, it does make sense that the search engine that emphatically services the world’s search needs also consolidates real estate search online.

The real estate listings will be stored in the Google Base system, which is Google’s free online listing/classified database populated by users (think Craigslist). I would expect to see renewed exposure of Google Base listings in Google’s search results pages (SERPs) especially when relevant real estate queries are entered.

Although Google Base is still in beta, it’s been around since October 2005. It surprises me that the real estate industry has taken this long to embrace this free service. Considering that Google services approx 58% of real searches online (ComScore Nov 2006), that’s a lot of exposure lost by realtors.

Now that the precedent is set and a major group has paved the way, expect to see more real estate companies from around the world following the lead of the Realogy Corporation.

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

Discussion (1 - comment)

You are right: logic dictates that Realtors would take advantage of a resource like GoogleBase to increase the online exposure of their listings. However, as a Real Estate Web Marketing Consultant , I can tell you that the hold the MLS has on the day-to-day existence of Realtors, the laziness and/or ignorance of 80% of Agents, and the arcane way the industry is set up to protect commissions and turf combine to trump logic. Easily.

It boils down to coverage, and the most complete coverage for any given area is provided by that area’s MLS. A given state can have multiple MLSs. A small state like CT, for example, has 3 or 4. The only Web resource that combines most of the MLSs to provide national coverage is the NAR’s own, a cheesy slug of an advertising infested Web 1.0 portal that is nothing more than a thinly veiled lead-aggregator (so agents LOVE it). If it were not for its near-monopoly hold on MLS data, would have easily been made irrelevant by useful Web 2.0 tools like GoogleBase, Trulia, and Zillow by now.

Beyond, the individual MLSs decide how their data is used (even by their own members) and they are, literally, all over the map. For example, the Houston MLS recently decided to send GoogleBase a feed while the Washinton State MLS decided to cut off its feed to

In the absence of an intelligent, cohesive, national MLS data-sharing strategy (which will never happen, trust me), it is up to Realtors to supply listings to any Web resource outside of MLS-driven sites, which guarantees spotty coverage on Trulia and GoogleBase (even with Realogy data)compared to the and local Realtors with an MLS feed, because many agents believe that once they have done the “work” of putting a property in the MLS, any additional effort required to get a listing more Web exposure is “extra work”, and they are much too busy for that, they will have you know.

This attitude is encouraged by the NAR, the MLSs themselves, and the hundreds of vendors who sell Web sites to Brokers and Agents because they all have vested interests in the status quo (think recording industry).

Of course, just as with music, movies. etc., the loser in all of this is the consumer. The Web-based technology required to introduce efficiency and reduce the cost of a Real Estate transaction already exists (look at, but it will take years to clear out the Luddite Contingent that is fighting to preserve the system they set up for their own benefit. The irony, of course, is that a wide embrace of Web-technology and the resulting efficiency would probably make most brokers more money.

Realogy is doing the right thing, and I applaud them for it, but notice how this move requires nothing of their brokers or agents. Realogy is simply exporting information that agents are already required to enter into a sort of corporate MLS. For now, a consumer’s best bet is to find the local broker that does the best job of making their MLS feed searchable and useful and then find an agent that goes beyond the data they entered into the MLS when they put a property on-line. This is a very good indication that you are working with an agent that “gets it” because they made the effort, and that is an attitude that usually carries over into how they do business.

By Anonymous - March 6, 2007

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