Google Maps now offers a dedicated landing page displaying listings the company receives from brokers and agents, and improved search capabilities that allow consumers to look for homes around specific neighborhoods.

Consumers could previously use Google Maps to search for real estate listings submitted by agents and brokers to Google Base, but had to specify "real estate" from a search options menu.

The new dedicated landing page, maps.google.com/realestate, shows results in a "one-box" that’s offered to users when they use search queries like "homes for sale in San Francisco," said product manager Andrew Foster in a blog post Monday.

When users apply search filters such as price, listings type, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, or square feet, markers show the 10 most relevant listings on the map, and small circles on every other listing in that area that meet the requested criteria.

Those searches provide "a really good idea of the distribution of properties for sale," Foster said.

Clicking a listing provides more detailed information about the property, including links back to the listing agent or broker who submitted the information to Google Base.

The new capabilities were developed by engineeers at Google’s Sydney office and were first launched Monday in Australia and New Zealand, according to TheAge.com.

The new development "is likely to be viewed by existing publishers as a grab for their business at a time when margins are under pressure and paid listings are being affected by the prevailing economic climate," TheAge.com opined.

Joel Burslem, writing about the new features on the blog Future of Real Estate Marketing, said that for now, the search results are "relatively confined" to Google Maps.

But if Google begins displaying listings in its general Web search results — as is the case with "local business" results — "we may see the Mountain View giant start to siphon off traffic," Burslem said.

***

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