Google is accepting property listings from listing aggregators and other sources, expanding integration of Google’s property "place pages" for listings into Google Maps across Europe.
The expansion of Google Maps’ real estate search capabilities already available in the U.S., Canada and Australia into Europe has caused a stir in the British press.
An article in The Independent of London this week predicted that Google, "the biggest name on the Internet," will soon be "cutting out the middleman and challenging the property professionals at their own game."
The article claims that Google "revolutionized" the way homes are bought and sold in Australia when it integrated place pages into Google Maps in Australia last year.
Google captured the attention of real estate professionals in the U.S. when it integrated place pages with Google Maps in the U.S. last fall (see story), but is unlikely to "disintermediate Realtors" from the homebuying process, said consultant Brian Boero of 1000Watt Consulting.
"The reaction to it overseas is more intense, because unlike the U.S, there is no MLS (in Europe), and agents pay to have their listings displayed on portal sites," Boero said. In the U.S., "Trulia and Zillow sort of gave the store away out of the gate, by saying we’ll display your listings for free, and you can pay to upgrade to get these other products."
There’s no indication Google will provide any transactional services or even get into the lead generation business, and fears that the search engine will turn Europe’s real estate industry upside down are "maybe a little over the top," Boero said.
Google Maps now displays thousands of for-sale and rental listings in Britain, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and a smattering of listings in other European countries including France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Sources include third-party listing aggregators such as homes24.com, a site operated by newspaper and magazine publisher Archant, and individual real estate brokers.
Rightmove, a company that claims to be the United Kingdom’s leading property portal with membership of 90 percent of "estate agents," has also reportedly entered into an agreement to integrate Google Maps into its property detail pages, including overseas listings.
It was unclear if Rightmove was also feeding listings to Google — only about 100 U.K. listings that turned up in a Google Maps search Friday linked back to the aggregator. Because of the time difference, Inman News was unable to contact Rightmove Friday afternoon.
According to international property portal Globaledge, a Rightmove spokesman said in a statement that the company has "two very different business models: Google is a search engine, and users will click through on each property to the agent’s own Web site. On Rightmove, users can see everything they want, all in the same place — not just the location, but the complete property details." …CONTINUED