Google is making its intentions in the real estate vertical more clear. Speaking this week at Inman Real Estate Connect, an industry conference, Google’s Sam Sebastian reportedly said: “We’re actively looking to acquire one to two small real estate companies a month.”
(Update: We now understand that the Realtor.org blog post linked above may have misquoted Google’s Sam Sebastian. Via this tweet, this attendee blog post, and a comment below, it appears Sebastian may have been referring to acquisitions in general, not specific real estate acquisitions. We’ll contact Google for clarification.)
Google has recently been rumored to be buying Trulia, but Sebastian wouldn’t confirm or deny those rumors. On his blog, Greg Sterling speculates about some of the larger real estate sites that Google may be targeting, but there are plenty of smaller options to choose from, too. Any site that gives Google a more complete data set for its continually expanding real estate listings would be a target. (Pure speculation: A site like Homethinking.com, which offers transaction histories and reviews of real estate agents, might give Google good content for its real estate place pages, not to mention more signals to use for search result rankings.)
When Google created place pages for property listings in November, I called it a national real estate search engine of sorts. There was pushback to that claim in some real estate circles from people saying Google hadn’t yet shown that level of commitment to getting into real estate. But Google’s statements this week in New York seem to make the company’s intentions clear: It plans to buy its way into the space with an aggressive acquisition schedule.
Brief Timeline Of Google’s Real Estate Efforts
- May 16, 2008: Google Adds Real Estate Pull-Down Filter To Maps
- July 6, 2009: Land Grab: Google Expands Real Estate Listings
- October 29, 2009: Google Maps Makes Real Estate Search More Visible
- November 20, 2009: Google Builds Out A National Real Estate Search Engine
- January 16, 2010: Google Plans To Buy Its Way Into Real Estate (this article)
Postscript from Greg Sterling: I had a brief email exchange with Sam Sebastian over the weekend in which he indicated he was misquoted and did not say that Google would be specifically buying “one to two real estate companies per month.” His remark was apparently more general, about Google’s broader intention to acquire small companies. That same statement has previously been made by several high level Google executives, including CEO Eric Schmidt.