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.