OpinionIndustry News

Avoid paranoia, embrace innovation

Guest perspective: Search engines present significant opportunity

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A small but vocal group of industry observers and participants have been issuing warnings about the imminent takeover of the real estate industry by Internet portals and general search engines such as AOL, MSN, Yahoo! and Google, as well as vertical search engines such as Trulia. Allegations against these companies suggest that they are "aggregating listing information without permission" and, if they are left unchecked, brokers will lose control of their listing data. This type of commentary is reminiscent of the fear-mongering of the late 1970s when franchises introduced the so-called "100 percent commission" business models, and, more recently when Microsoft launched its HomeAdvisor site amidst cries that it would ruin traditional real estate brokerage companies. Yet, none of these predictions ever came true. In fact, the history of the real estate brokerage industry is filled with the obituaries of Fortune 500 "outsider" companies that did not understand the unique nature of the ...