Google Will Drop Real Estate Search & Listings From Maps

google-maps-properties

Google has just made a surprising announcement: Google Maps will drop its real estate listings search option on February 10th.

Real estate was one of the options available inside Google Maps since July 2009, when it added a similar search form like the ones available on many real estate-specific websites. Google’s real estate search wasn’t as advanced as some of those sites, but offered enough basics for most homebuyers to start the process of finding a new home.

Problem is that very few people used it. That’s one of the reasons that Google cites for dropping real estate search:

In part due to low usage, the proliferation of excellent property-search tools on real estate websites, and the infrastructure challenge posed by the impending retirement of the Google Base API (used by listing providers to submit listings), we’ve decided to discontinue the real estate feature within Google Maps on February 10, 2011.

In fact, PropertyPal.com — one of the services that has provided UK real estate listings to Google since last summer– confirmed that today:

… on the whole, we experienced minimal traffic from maps over the course of its short 8 month lifespan. Google had tried a number of strategies to promote the service including running Google ads, none of which pushed any significant traffic, or increased uptake.

The loss of real estate listings in Google Maps also means the end of Place Pages for individual property listings — a move that, at the time, seemed to signal Google’s strongest intention of being a major player in real estate search.

It seems impossible to think that Google would give up completely on real estate search — it’s too important of an activity in that industry, with the National Association of Realtors reporting in recent years that about 85% of all home buyers begin their search online. What does the future hold for Google and real estate search?

“We’ll continue to explore this area,” according to today’s announcement.

Related Topics: Channel: Local | Google: Maps & Local | Top News

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About The Author: is Editor-In-Chief of Search Engine Land. His news career includes time spent in TV, radio, and print journalism. His web career continues to include a small number of SEO and social media consulting clients, as well as regular speaking engagements at marketing events around the U.S. He recently launched a site dedicated to Google Glass called Glass Almanac and also blogs at Small Business Search Marketing. Matt can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee and/or on Google Plus. You can read Matt's disclosures on his personal blog.

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  • http://jozsoft.com Joe Hall

    Matt,

    I am not surprised by this at all. I used to do in house SEO for a real estate brokerage, and even then I saw Google be very aggressive pushing Adwords on us. This move only frees up more room for ads. And I can tell you that selling PPC services to real estate brokerages is a hell of a lot easier than SEO. They have listings that they need to market right now, not after their domain is ranking.

    This move by Google creates a void in the market that’s only logical alternative is PPC.

  • http://jstohler jstohler

    Too bad. I always liked this feature, not because it’s better than a site like HotPads but because it combined the information with all the other Maps-related info.

  • Matt McGee

    Joe, this isn’t about SEO. This wasn’t organic web page listings — it was home data coming in via databases and data uploads from real estate brokerages, agents, and data suppliers. It’s not like the “real estate” tab/layer on Google Maps is going to be replaced by a “Real Estate Ads” tab or anything.

    Bottom line: real estate search is too important for Google to ignore.

  • http://jozsoft.com Joe Hall

    Matt, I am more than aware what this was. Part of my prior job was to input the listing data that corporate shared with Google Maps. All I am saying is that as REALTORs start to see their listings drop from the map view they will start looking for other marketing avenues and if they want too stick with Google, most will go with PPC. Because ranking a listing page takes to long.

  • Matt McGee

    Okay, that could be. But I would question how many knew that this feature even existed. It’s quite buried in Maps, and Google never did seem to promote it much as best I can tell (having a wife who’s a real estate agent).

  • http://www.gosmart4u.com Misty Lackie

    I smell an acquisition coming soon by Google of one of the larger real estate portals.

  • http://www.steakdigital.co.uk/ Duncan Parry

    From a UK perspective the public awareness of this is zero – nobody knows it’s there, and there are several good property sites that have emerged in the last few years.

    I see PropertyPal.com mentioned as a source of UK listings. Never heard of them – and they only cover one area, Northern Ireland. Did Google have the right partners for mass aggregation of already structured listings data? Not convinced at all.

    Acquisition – if they do, they will have to buy per country or scale an acquisition out quickly; I can’t think of any multi-national propery listing sites with decent marketshares in more than one country. Happy to be proved wrong…

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com George Michie

    I’m with Misty. Google has plenty of cash on hand for this kind of acquisition, and it’s very much in line with what G is doing in Travel. In all fairness, Google didn’t exactly pick the ideal time to jump into the real estate market :-)

  • Genevieve Vayda

    OK. From a none professional searching on line at my laptop, and out and about on my iPhone, my Real Estate search has just been kaboshed by this move by Google.

    I, myself, am now stymied in sewing together various RE sites, none of which cover all the bases.

    I am very disappointed in Google’s decision to turn off this feature. Seems silly to me. Or?? That they may be up to something?

    Meanwhile, I’ve just lost a GREAT tool, used while in my car, looking for my new home/property.

  • paulh

    It took me a long time to notice this real estate search was available …………

    it would have helped if it was visible ………………

    after I found it ………………….I used it almost daily

    I am also very disappointed in Google’s decision to turn off this feature.

  • http://www.racketmag.com Luke Toney

    I was very disappointed by this news. As far as I know, Google NEVER advertised this feature. I found it by chance searching maps. Furthermore, I found the information highly useful as a non-realtor property investor. Google was where I began my searches, and I often found listings there that weren’t included on my real estate report from my agent. Huge bummer and, I think, a bad move.

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