There seems to be a lot of confusion in the real estate industry surrounding Google Base. Having personally spent time at Google and with Google people I thought I would share some observations and conjecture about what base is all about.
Google is really starting to make some changes that are going to make base the place to be. Depending what datacenter you hit you may or may not get a new type of listing at the top of your Google search results. So a search like “
Seattle real estate” may or may not give you these new results. What are these “new” results? Well they are listings from Google Base. This new exposure is going to quickly make Base important. Consumers will expect and demand that their agents get their listings into Base.
I know that a lot of agents are concerned that Google Base is positioning itself to disintermediate them by finally being the “Lion coming over the hill”. Let me tell you what I think is going on in the minds of the guys at Google. Firstly, Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information –not control it. Google base is simply collecting more “parameters” about a “listing” (not necessary real estate could be anything) that will allow a search to more easily find that which he is looking for. If someone doesn’t have a web presence they will allow the user to host the listing at Google. Google then drives the searcher to the website with the complete info. Secondly, I don’t believe that Google has any desire to maintain and host listings. This is to say they do not intend to become a National MLS. They simply want their users to be able to find what they are looking for.
That said, Google is not going to differentiate listings based on who as uploaded them. FSBO listings will be right up their along side Realtor listings. Adwords will be sold, maybe to your peers and competitors; you might be able to pay for premium listing payment and revenue will be generated. I don’t believe that Google is interested in generating leads with the data and selling them back to realtors.
One of the biggest issues facing brokers and agents today is the control of their data. In my opinion Google Base is not a threat to this control. Base is simply a better index of data. Savvy Realtors will take advantage of Base and other vertical search engines to ensure that when consumers search for listings their customers listing are found and that the consumer traffic is driven back to the Realtors site.
Another big concern is data accuracy and timeliness. Realtors worry, and rightly so, about how all this information will be updated and maintained for accuracy. What about price changes, solds, etc? How can a Realtor synchronize all this data? Well that is were we come in. When you add a listing to Point2 we send the data to many places including base. We also ensure that the consumer traffic ends up back at the Realtors site. Any changes in price, status or anything else flows back out to all the listings – usually within less then 2 hours (depending on the partner).
Best of all we ensure that the decisions about where the listing data flows are left completely to the broker/agent.