Google dropping real estate – call me a cynic …..

by Peter Young on January 27, 2011 · 2 comments


Source: Search Engine Land

I noticed the post earlier that Google is to drop its Real Estate search listings from February the 10th 2011. Its one that comes as a real surprise to me given the potential marketplace out there, the role of search engines within this marketplace and the apparent strategy that Google appear to be pursuing at the present time in terms of vertical targeting.

According to Google the reason it is being shutdown is as follows:

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.

Now call me a cynic, however I can’t believe this is the last see of Google within the real estate vertical. Theres simply too much money to be made – particularly if you look at the big players in the marketplace – for Google not to want to get their hands dirty in that marketplace. Further to this the recent strategy of incorporating ‘comparison ads’ would suggest Google are taking these vertical search targeting very very seriously. Thus the decision to drop real estate would appear to be a very strange one….

The concept of integrating the real estate into Google in my opinion is a brilliant one – and one that would have significant benefits for potential purchasers if integrated properly. Part of the problem with low usage – particularly here in the UK is how it has been integrated. It isn’t a blended result like other Google assets such as news or video – and if we’re honest about it it isnt particularly well integrated into the maps framework – not in a way that makes it obvious for people not offay with Google Real Estate.

I would add to that a marketplace that is currently struggling – and all that I can come to a conclusion is – theres something else going on. Now three options would appear to be obvious here – either

  1. Google are retiring Google Real Estate and will replace it with something bigger and better at some point in the not too distant future. One only has to remember how Wave was launched to the world and then usurped by Buzz. Fair enough that both bombed – but there is a precident of Google doing this before and it wouldn’t come as a surprise to something similar happen
  2. There is something bigger afoot. Google have purchased ITA within the Travel marketplace, they have $15 Billion in disposable cash and a war chest to burn they certainly have the cash to purchase a major player in the market. Such a move would make sense if some form of consolidation were to take place .
  3. Google are spooked. There has been a lot of noise regarding Google favouring its own assets, and a lot of concern around its acquisition of ITA within Travel. May this just be a case of a sacrificial lamb for a product that if we are really honest about it has never really been pushed by Google.

I can’t for one minute think this is the last we will see of Google within real estate. Certainly short term Real Estate is no more but I can’t help thinking Google will be back and back with something bigger and better…..

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Kes January 27, 2011 at 10:42 am

My knee-jerk reaction is that they’ll make a move like they did with Youtube. Time to buy shares in Rightmove perhaps?

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