Our favorite search engine has quietly started selling Real Estate on Google. I’m not sure if that is the official name, but that’s what I’m calling it until I hear otherwise.
Here is what’s new: when you do a search for [homes for sale], [real estate] or [apartments for rent] a new option appears. For many real estate related queries, you can now search by: Location, Listing Type, Distance, Relevance, Most Recent Post Date, Oldest Post Date, Price, Bedrooms, and Bathrooms.
Some real estate brokers are worried. For agents to stay competitive, they must learn to leverage Google Base.
Base works like ebay, making it possible to quickly create a free posting that will appear online and can be located by searching specific terms.
1. You are not sticky. I’m a hard-core real estate user and after satisfying my Day 1 voyeurism, I’ve never had a good reason to visit your site again. I know that you are not geared toward a user like me, but I recommend you find a way to create stickiness. Why? See reason #2…
2. A super-sticky site only has to be half as good at proving a home valuation to decimate your business. People who start their home search online do not start a home search by typing in [zillow.com] or even [realtor.com]. People start a home search (and especially people moving to a new city) by typing a query into a google search box. From now on, those people are ALL going to see Google’s offerings, and should Google decide to add a valuation tool, the tool will likely be “good enough” so that they never even bother going to Zillow. Google only has to be good enough at providing a valuation in order to capture most of your market. Why? See reason #3…
3. People are lazy. People don’t use your site to get the “exact” price of their home since you don’t even try to provide it. If you asked 10 appraisers to value a typical home, you would get 10 different answers and at least a 5% standard deviation in their answers. Even if you can improve your answers by 2% to match the variability inherent in the emotional decisions associated with buying a home, that is still not good enough. Don’t waste much more time trying to improve your appraisal methods. You’re good enough and soon others (like Google) will have a service that is good enough. Instead, find something sticky.
Now that we have real estate on Google, I wonder what will be next.
Perhaps they’ll help us find love? Silly me. They’re doing that too.
Gus Moore heads up Miami Beach 411 as site administrator. You can reach him at 1-305-754-2206.