Not to be outdone by that other 800lb gorilla in the real estate space (see Zillow Asks What’s For Sale in your Hood?), Google has been quietly rolling out improvements to its real estate search and Google Base platforms and left a cryptically vague note on their official blog today that serves as a reminder to the industry that they aren’t sitting still as the online real estate space continues to evolve.
They’ve been on a quiet roll lately, methodically signing up brokers willing to feed their listings directly into the classifieds platform (see Windermere and Google Base Team Up and Trulia Lands the Big One) and it looks like they’re taking baby steps towards providing a real consumer search interface or portal for those listings – something that’s been hinted at in the past by the Mountain View giant (see Google Getting Deeper Into Real Estate Search?).
Right now they’re holding up short of calling it Google Real Estate, rather opting for the more generic terms ‘Housing search’. But is it only a matter of time?
They’ve had drop down menus on the results pages for searches like “Portland real estate” for a while, but what’s really interesting is the development that been going on as you click through.
The Housing Search page has undergone a pretty radical evolution since I last saw it, morphing closer and closer to the now almost generic user interface used by Trulia, Shackprices and other search sites. Sure, it lacks their flair and feels much more utilitarian, but it gets the job done. Standard features like the option to output the search as a RSS feed are included and are welcome (oddly, no KML/Google Earth output however).
As their Google Base inventory levels swell, and more traffic follows – real estate search becomes a much more lucrative market for them to monetize (likely through advertising – maybe even aping Zillow’s EZads?). I wouldn’t put it past them to flip the switch one day and push out a whole new portal.
Just like they did with their MyMaps release today, they’re definitely not opposed to taking out companies that have built businesses their on the API (see Social Mapping for the Masses with MyMaps). The folks at Trulia should be paying close attention.