Did Google just disrupt the real estate data status quo?

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with RealBird Inc.

RealBird Property SearchGoogle just announced that they revamped the search capabilities on their Google Maps service and now when consumers search for homes for sale, Google maps matching real estate listings using data from their Google Base database.

This is a big one. Bigger than it might look at the first glance as I will explain it below (The disruption). It is also one of the most stunning timing that I have seen since the founding of RealBird. Just a few month ago - in April 2009 - we released our first version of the private labeled RealBird Property Search service for real estate agents, brokers and other related real estate professionals, a service that is using the very same Google Base real estate database as the just released search tool on Google Maps (4 Million+ listings syndicated by agents, brokers, technology providers like us, FSBOs and MLSs to Google Base). While Google Base was available as a search engine for consumers before, it was not part of the flagship Google products until now. According to Compete.com, Google Maps has over 50 million unique viewers a month vs. some 300K on the Google Base domain name. That is almost a 200X jump - a major step in terms of syndicated real estate data visibility.

Google recent announcement shows Google's dedication to their Google Base real estate repository and hence, underwrites the value of our own RealBird Property Search. I usually try to avoid using very large words in our blog posts, but I think, we, at RealBird and our members just participated in a major step of the creative disruption of the real estate data distribution model. With our RealBird Property Search product - the only one on the market currently as far as I can tell - we enable you to be in the forefront of this new real estate search experience. I am very excited about this new development at Google so I may be using big words when talking about our service as well. One of the reasons is, that for the last few months, RealBird Property Search has been proven to be working great as a business building tool for our members and also because it is exciting to see that Google herself justified the efforts that we invested in building the industry's first private labeled real estate search engine using data from Google Base.  

First, let's talk about the disruption that I believe is happening, then I talk more about how Google's new consumer facing real estate search tool relates to our offering for real estate agents.

Did Google just disrupt the real estate data status quo?

I think so.

Step 1 - A few years ago, agents and brokers started to distribute (syndicate) real estate listings to 3rd-party consumer facing portals such as Google BaseZillow, Trulia, Oodle and many others (even to international sites like Viewr.com ) using either direct MLS syndication or 3rd party providers like our service, the RealBird Listing Publisher I consider this to be the first step of disruption. Listing brokers - smartly - started to understand that with consumers spending more and more time on the Internet, the listings that are "seriously looking for buyers" need to appear on as many destination sites as possible. The obligation to home sellers as a broker is to provide all means of listing marketing. Zillow, Trulia and many others built their business (partly or mainly) around the aggregation of all of these listings and the provide a superior user experience to their visitors. Listing syndication (outside of the MLS) is Step 1 in the disruption process. 

Step 2 - Many, many home sellers now understand that in order for their listing to sell as fast as possible and at its best price and with the best terms, they need Internet exposure. They know or care little about the details and legal complexities of real estate advertising (IDX opt-in, association and MLS rules, business code etc.). They expect their listing to be marketed honestly and at its fullest while their financial and other interests are also considered. It has become the reality already for the last few years (see Step 1) but now that Google is fully embracing syndicated real estate listings within their flagship service, this will be even more pressing on listing brokers. While Zillow, Trulia and other great companies created a great brand in the real estate industry and also among consumers, Google - with their leading worldwide brand - incorporating syndicated listings into one of their flagship products will certainly bring huge attention to the new era of listing advertising. Everybody (!) who uses the Internet knows about Google. Their US monthly consumer reach - only on their map service (maps.google.com) - is over 50 million according to Compete.com.

Imagine two listing agents going to a listing interview with exactly the same credentials, experience, professionalism etc. One who wants to keep the listing information in house (in the MLS only etc.) and one who promises widespread distribution via syndication, including presenting the property on the Google Maps real estate search. Guess which one will get the listing.

As more consumers will be aware of this option (associating value to syndication due to the undisputed brand and reach of Google) the more demand there will be on listing agents and brokers to let the information "free". The more listing brokers and agents welcome this brave new world, the less power will be in the hands of those who are protecting the status quo. Eventually, this pressure will trigger all the way up to the associations and MLSs and more and more of them will syndicate listings to trusted 3rd parties such as Google, Zillow and Trulia etc. Many of them are already doing it. This is the era we just entered with Google's announcement. Google just raised the importance of listing syndication to outside of the MLS with several magnitudes. And that leads to the final step of this process. 

Step 3 - Data quality. Once MLSes start distributing to Google Base and other destinations and/or more quality assurance tools are developed, data quality will no longer be an issue. MLSes will eventually do this based on their pressure from their participating brokers, who are pressed to do this by their very own home sellers - the real driver of the industry. We are not yet there, at step 3, this may take a few more years, but Google's new service, just made it sure that this time is coming.

So how does Google's announcement about their revamped real estate map search and the RealBird Property Search relate to each other? Who are they for?

Google and RealBird real estate search based on Google Base

Data source: Both are using real estate listings from Google Base as the source of property information.

Private labeling:  The standard Google Maps real estate search delivers traffic to listing brokers directly, cutting out buyer representation all together. It connects home buyers searching Google with listing agents and brokers. On the other hand, the RealBird Property Search is completely private labeled for you. ALL inquiries are forwarded to you so you can eventually convert interested visitors into home buyer clients for YOURSELF. This is a major difference between the two. Google simply redirects to the listing agent/broker website, the RealBird Property Search redirects interested parties to YOU.

Who are they for? The new Google Maps search option is mainly for consumers who visit Google to search for information. It certainly benefits listing agents and brokers with incremental exposure but has close to no value for home buyer representatives. On the other hand RealBird benefits both sides of the real estate transaction. Via the RealBird Listing Publisher - you as a listing agent or broker can syndicate your listing to the Google Base database quickly with minimum effort. With the RealBird Property Search service, you can also provide search tools to home buyers utilizing the same data as Google does, hence you can generate business on the buyer side as well. Just to emphasize it again, the RealBird Property search is not a competing product of the new Google offering, but rather, it packages the same features (and more) into a private labeled, branded service for you, supporting values and benefits on both the listing agent and buyer representative sides. 

User interface: Google's version is targeting their regular portal visitors and listings are mapped on their Google Maps interface. It can be embedded just like any other maps, but it can NOT be private labeled by you. The RealBird Property Search (using the same data) is completely private labeled with your theme, photo, company name, address, email, social networking accounts and just to emphasize it again, all leads are forwarded to you and client accounts for saving searches and listings are also associated with you.

Search engine performance: This is one of our favorites. The RealBird Property Search was designed from the ground up to deliver exceptional performance. We are proud to say that due to the software architecture that we developed, your visitors to the RealBird Property Search get the exact same lightning fast search results as the people visiting and searching Google directly.

Widgets and deployment: Google Maps can only be embedded as a standard map without the search form, without private labeling and the widget carries practically no value to you on the home buyer side, because all click-throughs go the respective listing agent or broker. The RealBird Property Search  can be embedded in many different forms, including full screen version, live search tool in blog posts, (e.g. in ActiveRain post), blog sidebar widget and more. Interestingly enough, Google's search form is still very basic and lacks one of the most powerful features that their Google Base service provides: the keyword search. With the RealBird Property Search, you can create fine tuned, niche, pre-set search widgets such as ocean view homes, equestrian ranches, short sale properties or whatever you can come up with that makes sense in your market. 

Some buzz from us and existing users

  1. Tutorials by RealBird here on ActiveRain
  2. Member success story: RealBird flies to the top
  3. Member success story: ActiveRain + RealBird = Google Page 1 result

Some randomly selected, live RealBird Property Search examples (note the embedded, live, private-labeled RealBird search engines)

  1. Wellington Equestrian Estates For Sale
  2. Beaverton Oregon home sales (Sorrento Ridge Neighborhood)
  3. The Malibu Real Estate Blog (interactive Search for homes sidebar widget)
  4. Southlake, TX homes for sale
  5. Eichler homes for sale in the SF Bay Area
  6. El Rancho Vista (Palm Springs, CA) homes - scroll down to see the live search at the bottom of the post

 

How to get your own RealBird Property Search

Create a free account on RealBird and your service is set up and ready to be used in minutes.

 

 

-- Zoltan 
RealBird.com

 

 

 

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Topic:
Real Estate Technology & Tools
Groups:
The Optimist
Free Tools For Real Estate Agents
Real Estate Technology
Tech Corner
Technology
Tags:
realbird
disruption
listing syndication
google base
google maps
realbird property search
realbird listing publisher

Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the house to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Show All Comments
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Eileen - Yes, the RealBird Property Search works in Manhattan. Google Base (the source of this service) has listings syndicated from hundreds of sources. See our demo search tool preset to Manhattan properties

You can just simply sign up to RealBird and you can get the Manhattan search widget private labeled for you in less than a minute. Thanks

-- Zoltan 

July 10, 2009 10:46 AM #28
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Corinne - Should you need assistance on how to best utilize the RealBird service, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thanks for being a member

Terry - Thanks

Kat - Thanks for the all caps comment LOVE :)

Joe - Yes, this is a big deal for us and our members as well. We don't compete with Google, but rather, bring the same technology and concept to the real estate industry, private labeled. In other words, adding value to it by packaging it for the real estate industry

Katlheen - Your kind words are much appreciated

Kathryn - Thanks ! Your previous testimonial is one of my favorites. Getting home buyer lead through RealBird while being on vacation scuba diving. 

Vlad - We do not compete with Google. They just justified our effort and the bet we made in April when we created the industry's first branded property search tool using data from Google Base. Our services fit into this concept perfectly and complements and add value to Google's. The RealBird Listing Publisher "feeds" Google Base - value on the listing side - and the RealBird Property Search creates value on the buyer representation side. 

July 10, 2009 10:59 AM #29
Rainmaker
83,952
Kathleen West
Trademark Realty Group of Palm Coast - Palm Coast, FL
Flagler County & Palm Coast Realtor

This is a very positive development and good for RealBird as well.  I like RealBird and using the service for listings.  I think alot of the points you bring up in step 2 are already reality today.  Sellers are often times very aware of the possibilities of the internet in terms of advertising and how it can be used.  It is very important to be able to speak to that and your online advertising strategy.  It's also important to be able to show this and show the results too. 

It's no secret that Google is a significant place to be, but it's been clumsy to get properties onto Google Base at times.  So good syndication to them will be a nice addition. 

July 10, 2009 12:41 PM #30
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Kathy - Right on. Completely agree. RealBird helps both listing agents with syndicating listings to Google Base (but as I said in the article, eventually, all MLSs will do it based on pressure from their brokers, pressed by their seller). We also provide value-added service using the same data (plus data syndicated by other means to Google Base) via the RealBird Property Search

Thanks

July 10, 2009 01:51 PM #31
Rainer
18,585
Laurie Meacham
Parker Real Estate Services P.C. (Logan Utah Real Estate) - Logan, UT

Zoltan, I am going to check out RealBird.  It sounds like a lot of agents use it and love it.  I just started my website a couple of months ago and am just getting my head wrapped around a lot of new information.  Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Laurie

July 10, 2009 02:45 PM #32
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Thanks Laurie - Let us know if you need help with setting it up. RealBird is very easy to use, but we are here to help, should you need assistance.

July 10, 2009 03:01 PM #33
Rainmaker
1,251,422
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% o... - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

You wrote:

"They know or care little about the details and legal complexities of real estate advertising"

Hmmm . . .

July 10, 2009 04:44 PM #34
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Hi Carla - What does Hmmm... mean? :)

Agree or disagree? Just to make sure that I was clear with that sentence: I refered to the fact that most consumers (e.g. home sellers) have no idea what IDX means for example, not only as a technology but in terms of legal issues etc.. What they care about is - in my humbled opinion -  that their listing is advertised as much as possible, while maintaining information integrity, honesty and with their best interest in mind.

What's your take on this?

Thanks

-- Zoltan

July 10, 2009 04:52 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,251,422
Carla Muss-Jacobs, Principal Broker/Owner
BuyersAgentPortland.com | (503) 810-7192 Portland Metro Exclusive Buyers Agent | 100% Buyer Representation ~ 100% o... - Portland, OR
Buyer Focused ~ Buyer Results

I'm not sure people "don't care" about the legal complexities of advertising.  I do know that former clients (buyers) had huge issues when their home (which closed and was deeded in their names) was being advertised "for sale" AFTER their deal closed.  Why? Because the web-hosting outfit wasn't the MLS, and didn't have rules and regs requiring the listing agent to change the status of a listed property within a specified time frame.  And the listing agent was all too happy having it floating out there as a "FOR SALE" . . . because they use the listing even AFTER it's NOT under contract, to make THEIR phone ring.

"Oh, I'm sorry . . . that listing sold.  But I have something else . . ."

In the auto industry the "bait and switch" laws are clearly established.  But . . . hmmmm . . . who cares about information integrity, honesty in real estate.  Right?

As an agent, there are a ton of avenues / websites a listing can appear.  Do I have time to look at them all?  Probably not!  The main feeder IS the local MLS, and through IDX the 3rd party -- which, to me is "threes a crowd!" . . . the general public loves to feel they can do the job of a Realtor(r).  They think that finding a home is all the agent does.  Or plants the "For Sale" sign.  Or, opens the front door with a key.  The general public thinks they can find their own home, and search.  Go for it! 

I used to work for an attorney who bought a house WITHOUT an agent.  He didn't need an agent . . . he was an attorney, afterall.  He didn't have an agent, and oopsie . . . he bought a house with NO rain gutters!  He lived in PORTLAND, OREGON -- rain capital outside of Seattle.  An attorney!  Didn't even see there were no rain gutters.  He found the house on his own . . .

Hmmmm . . .  (that's the sound the little birdie makes)

It's NOT so simple is it?  And it's the little things that add up in this business.  With listings online, I've always felt it's the Pandora's Box -- the muses are out.  Okay . . . now what? 

Try to get them back.

Can't be done.

Just like . . . the listing that shows a private owner's home FOR SALE -- when it closed two weeks ago!

I'm a busy agent, so I have the RMLS which always has been my method of finding properties for my clients, and obtain a wealth of information that is: accurate, up-to-date, concise . . . and this information allows me to do my job even better.

Zillow's Zestimates are so imbalanced, and not even close.  Trulia is another one.  Redfin . . . WHO has time to learn these computer screens, get used to them, rely on them?  Not me. 

And trust me, the brainacs behind these wundersites don't give a RIP about the buyer, the deal, etc.  They are promoting their website. 

It's not about the MLS' 'hoarding' the listings.  It's the work product of years and years of input, it's the work product and industry standard and practice that I find so useful, and use  as a TOOL to assist me.

That's my take.

Everyone wants to play Realtor(r).  Everyone wants to think they know how to make the better MLS.  Good luck with them all. I can't even begin to use their out-of-date, inaccurate, data.  Look, there is only one way to slice bread.  You can have a varity of breads but no one has made the better bread slicer, or wheel . . . for that matter.  But you techie people keep at it . . . and when you can put smell 'o rama into the listings, or really do "virtual" tours -- I'll be all over it!

'Til then . . . I will be a member of the RMLS.

P.S. Has anyone ever said "Don't mess with the Zoltan?"

Just askin'

;-)

 

July 10, 2009 07:55 PM #36
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Thanks Carla for your detailed explanation. You made some very good points. Many consumers do care. I went back and stroked out the "care" word (left it there for future reference). The sentence was overstated, so now it says: "They know little about the details and legal complexities of real estate advertising"

Let me just put some disclaimer here before I add my opinon: You - real estate professionals - are our current and future clients, in other words you pay our bills, hence it would be inappropriate and also silly from me to write anything which questions your profession or the value-add you create during a real estate transaction. I don't think I did , but if any parts of the post sounds like that, my apologies, that was not the intention. Secondly, I have zero legal background which would enable me to say anything sound in terms of legal matters concerning real estate transactions, so my intention with the post has certainly not been to debate or give opinion on legal matters, not even business ethics questions, but to point out the importance of this new development (good in my opinion) and also to plug our related services.

Having that said and out of my way, please allow me to restate what the overall point of the post is, from a different angle:

  1. I would definitely draw a distinct line between listing information on the web (such as in Google's database) for the good reason, i.e. exposure, v.s false advertisement (both intentional and unintentional) for the sake of this discussion. 
  2. I did not imply that technology should or will diminish the MLSes or the importance of them in terms of data quality, regulation etc. In fact, I tried to say the opposite. Once consumers know about the option that their listings can get in Google's new service (in front of 50 million+ monthly visitors ), they will ask their listing agent/broker to list it there too, and eventually, listing brokers will ask their MLS (!) to syndicate listings automatically to Google Base for the very reasons you described: data quality. Many MLSs are already doing it, e.g. MLSPIN of Massachusetts. The value of this is exactly the fact, that MLSs can still apply their quality control and remove listings from the syndication when it is sold, withdrawn etc. Technically, this is more complicated than that of course, because of other uncontrolled distribution matters (search engine indexing etc.) but I found this to be an exciting, technical challenge rather than something of an annoyance. Please also note, that I say this (i.e. I'd like to see MLSes syndicate the data themselves), even though one of our products (the individual listing syndication tool) will be hurt at that time, at least part of its value proposition. Even then, I think this should happen. That's just how it works, value-adds shift, not just in real estate, but in our techie world as well. The sooner we realize and adapt, the better it is for us.
  3. False advertising is false advertising. And it is a real, big problem, whether it is due to ill intention, unethical business behavior or due to technology limitations. In order to arrive to Step 3 of the process - as described above in the post - data quality (including protection against false advertisement) will have to be addressed and solved. It is not there yet. Again, as far as I can tell, MLSs being involved would be the best first step in that direction.   
  4. Change happens in increments. In hindsight though, there may be a point that one can call the tipping point. My analyses of Google's new service offering implies to me that this might be very well that point. The point where listing syndication goes mainstream. The syndication to outside of the MLS, but hopefully WITH the MLSs' involvement for all the reasons described above.

 

PS. Nobody has said "Don't mess with the Zoltan?" just yet. Although a guy in Hawaii behind the reception desk asked me if he can borrow it for the night. I let him of course. Should I ask for a discount on the accommodation next time? :)

Thanks again for taking the time for commenting. Great debate.

 

-- Zoltan

 

July 10, 2009 09:51 PM #37
Rainer
146,715
Coleen DeGroff
eXp Realty - Gainesville, FL
Haile Plantation Real Estate - Gainesville FL

Zoltan,

I've bookmarked this post to review in the morning when I have all my faculties about me! As it is, my brain shut down about an hour ago....but it seems like this is really GREAT news and I am THRILLED!

I got my first buyer lead off of my blog, and I'm pretty sure RealBird was one of the reasons!  LOVE your product!  I look forward to figuring out how to best maximize its power on my blog and website.

 

All best,

Coleen DeGroff

July 10, 2009 10:07 PM #38
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Thanks Coleen. Glad to hear about your success with your blog.

-- Zoltan

July 10, 2009 11:19 PM #39
Rainmaker
652,546
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes

No idea what you just wrote -- surely it must be important -- but it is too much to get my brain around.

July 10, 2009 11:35 PM #40
Rainmaker
208,078
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

I did sign up and have no idea what to do next... I dont know widget from shinola... and am not sure what to do... but hopefully I will figure it out!

July 11, 2009 01:56 AM #41
Ambassador
723,516
Christopher and Stephanie Somers - Realtors - Philadelphia Real Estate
Realtor / Owner - RE/MAX Access - Philadelphia, PA

Zoltan - I need to re-read this 2 or 3 times as well as all the comments !  Is quite fascinating !  Have to wrap my mind around it more : )

July 11, 2009 09:37 AM #42
Rainer
51,008
Gabriel Gross
RealBird, Inc - Redwood City, CA

Debra

I am the shinola/widget specialist at RealBird and would be happy to help you understand all this if you can let me know when it might be good for you to have an online tutorial.  Our support department is open 24/7 except on Christmas and Jom Kippur.

Have a great weekend!

Gabe Gross

RealBird Inc.

support@realbird.com

July 11, 2009 10:33 AM #43
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Bob - In short: Google now shows listings syndicated to Google Base on their Google Maps service (maps.google.com), in front of 50 million+ monthly visitors. This move just made listing syndication (the technique to get your listing distributed automatically to public websites ) mainstream. Plus you can use the RealBird Property Search to have a search on your your blog and website, using the same data as the one used by Google's new service.

Debra - As Gabe said, we are here to help. Just call or email us.

Christopher and Stephanie -  Glad you like the topic. Should you have questions, just let us know

-- Zoltan

July 12, 2009 09:56 PM #44
Ambassador
832,303
Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Kathleen Daniels is so pleased with your program she sent me this link to check you out. I don't have time to read your entire post but will come back to it this weekend. I'm very intersted in finding out more about it.

 

July 16, 2009 03:25 PM #45
Rainmaker
700,649
Real Bird
RealBird Inc. - Redwood City, CA

Connie - We are glad to hear that. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

-- Zoltan

July 17, 2009 10:20 AM #46
Rainer
3,313
Charra Bennett
YourSiteNeedsMe.com - Brooklyn, MI

Hi Zoltan,

Question - how can a company that advertises their clients listings use your product to also then offer their clients listing syndication? Do you have a service where the company can say - we also offer listing syndication? Is it possible to do this without hand entering the listings?

Thanks,

Char

 

August 14, 2009 10:09 AM #47
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
700,649

Real Bird

Ask me a question
*
*
*
Spam prevention

Accessibility option: listen to a question and answer it!

To submit the form,
drag the printer to the circle on the side.

Type below the answer to what you hear. Numbers or words, lowercase:

Additional Information