Step back in time about five years and Google’s entry into real estate search was heralded as threatening real estate agent’s sites and ushering in the era of the incredibly-overrated national MLS. Google “Phoenix homes” for instance and a search box would appear before any of the site links below, spelling doom on agents who connect with clients over the Internet.
Woe be to those agents and brokerages who did not upload their listings to Google Base, the new home for all things real estate search.
Step back in time two years and you’ll see where Google integrated real estate search into Google Maps. So, if you’re looking for a neighborhood for a coffee shop or what have you, you also would be treated to all the real estate listings in one place.
Real estate agents, long destined for disintermediation by some pundits, finally had seen that day arrive.
And then come to today or, technically, yesterday when Google threw in the towel and announced it was retiring real estate search on its site.
At Google one of our key philosophies is to take risks and to experiment. To that end, in July 2009 we announced the ability to find property for sale or rent directly on Google Maps. This is one of the “search options” next to the search box on Google Maps, and is currently available in the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Japan.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. [emphasis mine]
In other words, that need Google was trying to fill wasn’t really a need … real estate agents had it filled and now, using Google Maps, many of us are expanding our own online offering with help from the very company the pundits thought (and/or hoped) would be putting we lowly agents out of business.
If I seem particularly happy, smug, gloating, etc. it’s only because after spending seven years in this business hearing the cackles of the jackals that real estate agents are doomed to extinction, I find it amusing when our so-called conquerors either adapt to the norm (hello, Redfin … a non-starter in the Phoenix real estate market and another story for another day), or fall by the wayside.