Google Base and real estate marketing

Google has just launched (in beta) their newest method by which they are seeking to catalogue the world’s information – literally. This information aggregation by one party makes me nervous. That said, for my clients’ best interest, I feel I must embrace it.

From their FAQ page:

4. What kind of information can I submit?
Remember, our goal is to organize the world’s information and make it universally useful and accessible, (bolding mine) and “the world’s information” certainly includes almost anything you might wish to contribute. We encourage you to submit your item, whether it’s your store inventory, collection of original poetry, or research paper on cancer receptors. 


I have started to publish the properties that I am marketing in Google Base because it represents another method by with to expand the possibility that my clients’ homes will be seen by more potential buyers. Not all properties are there yet, as the process for uploading still feels a bit buggy; uploading .jpgs frequently brings errors saying that it does not recognize the file format, that I “need to upload a .jpg”! This is time-consuming and frustrating.

Limitations:
– simply too much information
– mapping aspects of Google are limited; identifying specific property addresses is not accurate. I have had to identify the properties with the town or the zip code rather than the actual property address.
– the search aspect is not yet refined. How can someone search for a three bedroom, two bath home with at least 1800 square feet on at least .3 acres in the Henley Middle School district?
– there is not yet a consistent search criteria used by all posters
– The search results (at least for now) seem to be too easily manipulated by bulk submitters.

Inman says:

The Web is your oyster if you’re a real estate agent marketing homes for sale. … While many observers say Google’s new service that looks and functions like a classified ad service is too young to make a big splash, it looks pretty scary for traditional newspapers that depend on classifieds to hold them up.

I think that Google Base will be another form by which to search for information, be it homes, land, refrigerators or cars. The integration with Froogle takes this service a step further. It’s too early to tell, but I will say this – I can’t remember the last time I picked up the yellow pages rather than go to switchboard or one of the local search sites.

A reader noted that I was the first in the Charlottesville area to have a listing in Google Base for real estate. Being first is one thing. Innovating to stay ahead of those who follow is another.

Update: Wired has a timely article titled, “Who’s afraid of Google? Everyone.

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3 Comments

  1. Zen Poet November 26, 2005 at 23:00

    After you published your first property on Google Base, another CVille realtor put a whole bunch of their listings, with the end results that the listings are unusable for all the reasons you mentioned.

    However, this is just a start.

    Google will most likely suggest or dictate a schema, i.e., geek-speak for a way to tag and organize information. In fact, the information on the MLS listing makes for a perfect schema. At that point, the information will be useful, provided:
    1) enough folks search for a home via Google
    2) the Google listings are as complete as the MLS
    3) the Google listings are as timely as the MLS

    I have no doubt about (1) given Google’s track record. (2) and (3) will take care of themselves as more realtors put listings on Google Base.

    The wild card and potential problems for realtors is when folks will decide to bypass realtors and the MLS entirely, and put their listings on Google Base directly. In the short term, this can only add to the downward pressure on real estate commission rates. In the long term, I think the real estate industry is in for an upheaval. Let’s just hope that long term will turn out to be long enough for you to adapt.

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