Haven’t we heard this story before? (see Real Estate Search Stores – Coming Soon?)

Walmart has quietly launched a new classifieds portal on their web site Walmart.com (see Walmart Launches Classified Listings).

The service is powered by Oodle and has a dedicated real estate section.

I have to say it felt a little weird searching for houses on Walmart’s site – but I’m not a regular Walmart shopper. And I had quite a few problems accessing the site too which dampened the experience.

But I think the greater trend we’re seeing here is that map-based real estate search is fast becoming ubiquitous.

Oodle’s platform and competitors like Vast which power these initiatives are easily deployed on just about any site and I suspect we’ll start to see even more online retailers leap on this band wagon too.

The challenge here is how do the dedicated real estate search portals compete with these retail giants?

Pretty paltry traffic in comparison.

And I wonder do people really care where they start a real estate search online? Is searching at Walmart.com any different from Zillow.com? Do people know that they aren’t seeing all the listings? Do they care?

These are some of the questions I’m wrestling with.

One upside is that it’s almost impossible to find the classifieds link on Walmart’s home page. So they certainly aren’t doing all they can to drive traffic there – no need to hit the panic button yet.

But like I said, I think this is a growing trend. Perhaps Trulia has recognized this and realized that building a single destination is a long, expensive process. Perhaps why they’ve built the Trulia Publisher Platform to enable them to power these kinds of partnerships.

So how ultimately can the real estate destinations compete?

It’s no longer about just getting the listings – listings are everywhere. It’s going to come down to context and content and providing a great experience. Something these white-labeled retailer sites can’t deliver.

On the flip side – agents you just got a bunch more destinations to advertise your listings. And I guess that’s a good thing.

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