Now, a search for "Portland Real Estate", for example, reveals a drop down menu where you can refine your search by city or zip code. This then takes you to a straightforward listing of properties for sale within your search range. Clicking on a listing's criteria takes you to a Google Map interface that shows you similar properties for sale/rent – most of which come from its Google Base online classifieds unit. Simple, but not terribly effective. Yet.
But Google's not the only big guy getting in the game. Microsoft recently launched its Windows Live Expo which, once you muddle through a confusing list of options, also displays real estate. I'm not so fond of Microsoft's offering, though it does offer a handful of Web 2.0ish "social" features, it is crippled by a poorly designed interface.
On the plus side, both Google and MSN offer a free marketing tool for FSBOs and the potential for millions of eyeballs on your listing. The down side is that as Henry Blodget rightly pointed out, neither MSN nor Google will become truly significant players in the real estate search space until they're allowed to scrape the MLS listing data. Until they are, those eyeball will likely be looking elsewhere.