Searching for homes getting easier

Consumers want it all. And they want it now.

The advent of Zillow, Trulia, RealestateABC, et. al. is pushing real estate technology innovation faster than it has ever been pushed. The news today that Cendant will be offering Microsoft’s Virtual Earth mapping on its websites is big news. (Don’t count MSFT out yet!) The mapping wars are just heating up. The guys at RCG are ahead of the curve – watch them.

Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will provide its Virtual Earth commercial online mapping solutions for Cendant’s real estate brand Web sites –,,, and – and for the local operating company Web sites of NRT Incorporated.

The sooner Microsoft decides to support Firefox (or better yet, web standards) and makes their products accessible to all, the better.

As a consumer, whether snooping on neighbors, searching for homes, or just checking up on the market, what are you looking for? What does the end game of the merging of real estate and technology look like?

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  1. Jim Duncan May 10, 2006 at 17:53

    Robbie –

    Thanks for visiting. I continue to watch your developments and wish that my developer would be so quick to implement these improvements. Whoever has the most innovative search (and complementary tools to support the agent and will have a lot to gain.

  2. Robbie May 10, 2006 at 17:03

    I should note that Firefox & web standards support in MS products is getting better. RCG Search, is built using MS Virtual Earth and However, it’s true that not all groups at MS have yet answered the call of treating Firefox like an equal and MS putting IE to sleep for 4+ years and waiting for the ashes of Netscape, to come back from the dead, as Firefox has done, was a dumb move.

  3. TrvlnMn May 10, 2006 at 20:12

    Jim wrote:

    As a consumer, whether snooping on neighbors, searching for homes, or just checking up on the market, what are you looking for? What does the end game of the merging of real estate and technology look like?

    What am I looking for? A better bigger picture. That’s what it all adds up to for me, snooping neighbors tax assesments, using the web to surf what’s on the market and for how much, and even the new websites that about finding the right neighborhood. (as referenced in this Chicago Tribune article) It’s about being prepared for when I’m (eventually) ready to make that move. The end game (if I understand the question) for me is being able to do all the major real estate investigation from my armchair at home, and having the neighborhood drive thru’s (or drive arounds) be that last part of the process.

    As for the other discussion. I can’t stand IE. By comparison it’s Much much slower than Firefox which I use now. Unfortunately there are still some holdover websites that I use which refuse to become firefox friendly.

  4. Robbie May 10, 2006 at 20:26

    If you can get me access to your MLS’s data, I’m willing to port over “Zearch” for your MLS. The trick for me, is trying to balance the wants of consumers vs. needs of agents vs. my need to make enough revenue so I can re-invest it and take the technology to the next level.

    So far I’ve been very consumer focused and trying to keep up with the leading edge. I haven’t had an opprotunity to add many features that agents would need. Part of it is that I don’t want to spend my time re-inventing WordPress. However, if you have any ideas on what’s needed to meet the market need of tools that empowers consumers and promotes agents (or have decided you want to get Caffeinated), let me know.

  5. UVA08 May 11, 2006 at 10:45

    Hey Jim,
    This more of a legal and off topic question. I was wondering how the “takings clause” of the Fifth Amendment figures into real estate development? Everyone knows about the takings clause how the governmet must provide “just compensation” when they seize property. There was a Supreme Court Case out of South Carolina (Lucas v. South Carolina Costal Council) where the board rezoned land rendering it useless and the owner successfully sued and got the pre-zoned value back for the land. In light of the recent stalling of the North Pointe project (again) and the county’s history of denying developers the ability to develop their land, have you ever heard of anyone suing the County (or any other jurisdiction) for a violation of the 5th Amendment and Due Process? Though it isn’t exactly a “taking” it is basically a form of the government restricting private rights without any wrong doing or due process of law. Or does the county’s approval process count as “due process”? As you can see I’m very confused on the issue. Just wanted to see if you or anyone else knew.

  6. Jim Duncan May 11, 2006 at 14:53

    Robbie –

    I am definitely interested in becoming “caffeinated;” my current site has been quite good, but I am always looking to implement the “next best” whatever that is.

    UVA08 –

    The first instance that comes to mind is Wendell Wood’s attempt to build a Home Depot across from Lowe’s on 29 (see cvillenews here, here and here – and the second is Richard Spurzem’s development on Pantops.

    In my opinion, I think that Albemarle has done a pretty poor job of explaining and implementing their vision of what they want the County to look like. Down-zoning specifically to prevent development when said development has already been planned without just compensation seems to me to be a “taking.”