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Google wants its piece of real estate

by Chris Lang on July 7, 2009
Google wants its piece of real estate

Google Maps New Real Estate SectionIf I had to name the most interesting bit of real estate news this week, it would be about Google entering the real estate market (and starting their quest from New Zealand of all places). It doesn’t surprise me that they did – what took them so long is what surprises me. I mean, if you were in a position to grab a huge piece of a very yummy pie, why would you wait? Google literally rules the world of online advertising which leaves little chance of any real estate website competing with them.

According to the news, in New Zealand there is now a real estate section in Google Maps and it’s populated with listings from 2 big real estate websites in New Zealand. What more, Google invites any estate agency to upload its listings to Google for free.

That article made me so curious about what’s going on with Australia, how far did Google get here and some very interesting facts surfaced as I looked through the listings in Aussie Google maps / real estate section.

Apparently this is a brand new feature and was only added yesterday, July 6. It was announced by Andrew Foster who wrote on Google’s Official Australian blog “Today we’re adding a feature to Google Maps in Australia that we think will make Maps an even more invaluable resource to Aussies as they go about their busy lives. Increasingly, people are heading online when looking for a new house to rent or buy, and from today, we’re adding the ability to search for properties on Google Maps. We’ve worked with partners across the real estate industry to provide up-to-date listings, which you can search for directly from the Google Maps search box.”

So here is what it looks like (watch the video below):

My next question was – where did the listings come from? Apparently Google have solved the problem of populating their section with ads mostly from myhome.com.au, homehound.com.au and real-estate-australia.com.au (in Victoria). Same as in New Zealand, the most popular websites Realestate.com.au and Domain.com weren’t interested in uploading their ads into Google’s new section.

Of course Google’s interface needs a lot of work to match that of Realestate.com.au, but something tells me they will get it “just right” very quickly. It will be very interesting to see how Domain.com and Realestate.com.au handle the competition – or will it be cooperation?

What do you think of this feature, did you try it? Do you think it will work with or against the big real estate websites?

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7 things you can do to help the agent sell your house, part 1

by Chris Lang on May 11, 2009
7 things you can do to help the agent sell your house, part 1

Real estate agent caricatureDoesn’t it sound ridiculous that you need to help a person you’ve hired for the big bucks to do their job? I know you shouldn’t have to, and in an ideal world you wouldn’t have to.

However, the reality is that there are different agents, some are better, some are worse and it’s difficult to predict what kind of job will your agent do selling your house before you’ve seen them do it. Which is why you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to speed up the process.

I would even say that in selling a house there are two parts of the deal. Agent’s part is to advertise and promote your house to prospective clients, to negotiate with the interested buyers and create a competition on your house to get you the best possible price. Your part is to get people to like your house, to expose it to the maximal number of potential buyers and to let them make an offer as soon as they are ready.

And here is how you can achieve that:

1. Have Section 32 ready before you put the house on the market.

The reason is that a buyer can’t submit a written offer before they’ve seen your Section 32 (read more about it here). So once a person has inspected your house, liked it, wants to buy it, the only thing that can stop them is the absence of Section 32 (and it really annoys the buyers if they have to wait a week to get it).

2. Write your own ad.

Think about it – who knows your house better than you do? Who can name all the advantages better than you? Who knows better all the handy amenities, all the nice things about your house and your neighborhood? You can write your own ad that will appear on the internet sites (such as domain.com and realestate.com.au), in newspapers, in brochures, leaflets and the like. Or if you feel too insecure to do it – give your agent ideas for the ad, list all the good things and the features of your house, they will only thank you and put them to some good use. Agents are amazingly cooperative in anything that means less work for them :)

3. Choose your own photos.

Yes, you can do it. The agents are not the only one with good taste in photography. Actually, judging by pictures from realestate.com.au, some agents have a pretty crappy taste in photography or simply don’t care. If you insist and put it in the contract before you sign it, they will let you choose the pictures of your house that you like. Or, more importantly, you will have the right to throw away picture that you don’t like. In an ideal world, paying to a professional photographer would mean getting the perfect pictures, but since we’ve already established that it’s not always the case, you need some control over the way your house is presented in the papers and on the internet.

Hang on, I’ve got 4 more things to tell you. Subscribe and they will be in your email the minute I publish my next post.

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