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Google Gets Serious about Real Estate Search

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It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything coming out of the Googleplex around its moves in the real estate space.

And now, we wait no longer. On the Google LatLong blog today, Google announced that they have rolled out vast improvements in the way that they display real estate searches in their index; they are now included by default in the Maps view.

They have also rolled out brand new real estate specific landing page at maps.google.com/realestate.

We want to keep making it easier for people find the real estate information they’re looking for and have it returned to them in a useful way. So, from today, if you enter a query like san francisco real estate on Google Maps, you’ll see that we make it easy for you to see all your results on a map with a one-box that will take you to real estate listings. Previously, you had to specify “real estate” from the search options menu, but now we’re making it easier to find available listings.

This move should come as no surprise to anyone following this space. Real estate search tools like Zillow and Trulia are seeing significant traffic growth and Google will only stay on the sidelines so long once they see someone else starting to monetize search results.

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They also seem to have borrowed some of the features (transit search) that made some of their competitors, like Estately, so compelling.

You’ll notice that we’ve made some other enhancements that will improve your real estate searching experience. We’ve added lots of markers that will show not only the ten most relevant listings with pins on the map, but also show a small circle on every other listing in that area using the search results layer, so you can get a really good idea of the distribution of properties for sale. You can click on each marker and each small circle to get more detailed information about the property.

This feature means you can now conduct a real estate search around a specific neighborhood, or see at a glance all the properties close to a BART stop. You can also pan the map to another area entirely to see listings there if you decide that another part of town is more your speed.

Google has silently been collecting broker feeds for the last couple of years (pulling them in to their Google Base database). And so like many of its counterparts it has a reasonably deep market coverage, but it does depend on what part of the country you’re searching.

As mentioned up front, right now Google is only deploying these searches into its Maps results, so they are relatively confined. But I wonder how long before they display them in their Web results too (much like they do with their Local Business results – at the top of the organic results). If that’s the case, here’s where we may see the Mountain View giant start to siphon off traffic from the real estate specific search sites.

Time will tell, but the game’s about to get interesting.