Point2 Realty Solutions, a Canadian company whose software enables agents to create their own Web sites, has joined the Google Earth “mod squad,” modifying Google’s mapping feature to add maps to its offerings.
Mapping is one of the hottest developments in real estate marketing technology, with companies rushing to incorporate the feature. A number of companies have modified the free Google Earth three-dimensional mapping imagery for use with their offerings.
For example, Prudential Chicago adopted a modification just days after Google released the feature in late June. CondoBuzz.com, a national network of 1,500 condo-focused Web sites, has incorporated Google Earth into some of its local condo Web sites.
Now, Saskatoon, Canada-based Point2 has added Google Earth to its do-it-yourself Web offerings. The feature has been added to the 61,000 existing sites agents have created using Point2 software and will appear on new sites as well.
When a home buyer goes to the agent’s site, a link, “View these listings in Google Earth,” is visible next to the listings.
If the consumer has already downloaded Google Earth, when he or she clicks the link, the Google Earth map interface automatically pops up. It displays an aerial photographic view of the area, presented in an almost three-dimensional manner, with icons indicating houses for sale.
It’s necessary to have downloaded Google Earth to use this feature. Each of the sites provides a link to Google Earth for downloading.
When the home buyer clicks on the icons, a photo of the house appears, with a short description of the property and a link. If the buyer clicks on the link, further information and 25 photos appear. The buyer can zoom in closer to view the block the house is on, the street and the house itself.
A screenshot can be seen on the Point2 site.
If a consumer’s computer is more than four years old, it’s probably not possible to download Google Earth, according to Brendan King, COO of Point2.
“It’s not really for everybody,” King said. “But we’re finding that a lot of the typical new Internet consumers want to get on and do a lot of exploring. They’re more technically advanced.”
When these consumers first start looking for a home, King said, “They don’t need broad data. They need deep data. They don’t need to know about a whole lot of houses. They just need to know about the houses that are within their price range and neighborhood.”
With the Google Maps feature, King said, “They can see not only the listing but where the house is situated with respect to schools and churches. They can see if they’re near a freeway, is there a big hill, are we going to slide off it?”
If the buyers have that deep data, King said, they end up contacting the agent who supplies it, “and 70 percent of consumers go with the first agent they contact, according to a National Association of Realtors 2003 home buyers and sellers study.”
Mapping technology today is a hot commodity in online home shopping, enabling people to search for homes in the same way they think about where they live instead of relying on ZIP codes or city or county names. A recent Inman News report focused on mapping technology and how brokers and agents are using it.
“Real estate seems to be the category in which a lot of the most interesting mapping is being done,” Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group told Inman News. “There is an obvious benefit to consumers to be able to do a map-based search with various elements such as price, location and so forth, which is why developers are seizing on the opportunity to integrate their data.”
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