The talk of all the sales meetings in Canada this month has been the Competition Bureau’s demands of CREA to open up organized real estate’s strong hold on Realtor.ca and the MLS. Well for longer than a year now, maps.google.com has had a “Real Estate” search somewhat hidden in the drop-down menu that shows up when you click the “Show search options” link next to the “Search Maps” button. There you get a custom real estate search map which lets you find places for sale or for rent with the ability to filter by price range, number of bedrooms, and number of bathrooms. Anyone can post a listing to be found this way on Google Maps by submitting the info to Google Base.
Now however, Google has flipped the first switch and now automatically shows this specialized real estate search when someone uses the keywords “real estate” in their Google Maps search. It won’t be much longer before they hit the second switch which will start showing real estate listings in the regular Google.com search result when someone types in “Real Estate Vancouver”. And it won’t be much longer after that before they stop relying on real estate agents, brokers, third parties, or homeowners to submit the info on Google Base. They’ll start using their search robots and pick up all the data from real estate agent websites, brokers websites, and anywhere else on the internet data is available and then organize it nicely so that users don’t have to leave Google to search and look at real estate listings. And if that doesn’t find all the listings, they’ll make it easy for anyone to post a real estate listing…
Oh wait, they’ve already done that: Google has created “Place Pages” for everything from businesses, points of interest, transit stations, and landmarks, to cities all over the world. Don’t think for a second that they forgot about real estate. Now anyone can go in a create Place Page for their property and list any and all information about it including photos and YouTube videos.
So, will it matter if the Competition Bureau has its way with CREA? No. By the time it goes through negotiation or tribunal and the changes are made so anyone can post a listing to Realtor.ca and the MLS, it will be insignificant: Google will already be providing an easy way for buyers and sellers to find and post the information they want.
As a real estate agent, it is necessary to stay ahead of these changes and keep your service relevant and in demand. Don’t be be left behind with those focused on the Competition Bureau on how it will change their business and affect their commissions. The change is already here.
Let us know your thoughts on the Competition Bureau and what Google is doing.
You can check out Google’s post here: Official Google Australia Blog: Making it easier to find the property you want on Google Maps