announced that it was expanding its real estate listings on Google Maps. In an interview with The Age, Andrew Foster, a Google product manager, explained that Google was rededicating itself to this market because it found that a growing number of people are using the Internet to search for a new home. Currently, according to data from Hitwise, Google Maps is only a very small player in the online real estate market and it only sends about 2% of its traffic to real estate web sites. The current market leaders are Realtor.com, Zillow, and Yahoo Real Estate.Yesterday, Google
It is important to note that Google had been offering this capability on Google Maps for a long time already, and it still didn't leave a dent in Realtor.com's or Zillow's traffic, so we really have to wait and see if Google puts some marketing muscle behind this improved service, or if it will continue to linger in relative obscurity.
It Works, But The Competition is Better
When you are looking for a house, location is a key factor, and just like Zillow, Google Maps puts a house's location at the front and center of its presentation. Looking at houses on Google Maps, however, also quickly makes it clear that Google is only aggregating data from listing web sites and getting its data from brokers who update their listing on Google Base. This means that listings on Google Maps are not necessarily as up to date or as comprehensive as those you could find on similar services.
It is also quite obvious that real estate listings aren't the focus of Google Maps. Google's competition generally offers far more options when searching for a house (type of house, lot size, year built, etc.), and does a better job at displaying other important information about a house and the neighborhood (quality of local schools, for example).
While it is good to see that Google is re-dedicating itself to the real estate market, this is hopefully only the beginning of the company's efforts, because in its current state, these listings on Google Maps are a nice addition to a great product, but don't hold up as a real estate offering in its own right.