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The Loss of Google Real-Estate

By: Barrett Powell
 

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This is a very sad event.  I understand why it happened, but it is still sad nonetheless.

For years, property data has been held hostage by local powerful MLS systems.  As a buyer, seller, or even member Realtor, the only way to access that information was through the narrow view of the MLS and the selected IDX partners.  Every connection was a custom deal.  There was NO standard and data sharing was times more political than technology or service based.  Even RPR, with its promise of universal property access across the U.S. was wrought with challenges.  There were just too many MLS chiefdoms out there to deal with.

Then along came Google.  Finally we had a technology not under the control of any special interest.  Technologies like ListHub and XML feeds from dozens of vertical market sites such as foreclosure sites were finally being syndicated to one place.  Was it perfect?  No.  But it was a very good start.  And it was Free!

What killed Google was the fact they could not deliver a quality product where they had control over the user experience.  In other words, they were still at the mercy of the many MLS systems out there and their relationship and ability to deliver a consistent and complete data feed.

And this showed.  Honestly compared to the other services on Google, the Google Base Realty was not up to par.  There were however some excellent 3rd party apps that leveraged Google Base Real-Estate.  Two that come to mind are RealBird and ShoutCast.  Both these applications provided excellent front end search and even plug-in integration with popular website technologies such as WordPress.

In the end, Google decided to cut their losses and focus on other areas where they could provide what users have come to expect, a great user experience.  This is truly sad and I’m afraid has set back the free and open access to property listings for some time to come.

Barrett Powell, Broker/Tech Consultant

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