Google announced  last week their plans to remove their real-estate listings from Google Maps. In a blog post announcing the decision, Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Earth and Maps, stated, “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.”
Ami Grant, Director, SEM Media at The Search Agency, believes Google is unlikely to abandon real estate search completely: “With Google’s recent announcement that they will retire real estate listings on Google Maps, the question on everyone’s mind is, ‘Does Google have something bigger planned here?’ Google has been focusing so much on local search results (i.e. Google Places, Local Business Extensions) that steering away from real estate seems contradictory. Could Google be planning to acquire one of the bigger real estate portals? Or is it simply Google was not well supported by MLS feeds resulting in unreliable data? The former seems more likely, considering the revenue potential in real estate. In the meantime, Google states that real estate companies can continue to use tools from Google to help “connect with buyers and renters” (i.e. Google Maps API) and they will continue to ‘explore this area.'”
Although this change will impact real estate marketers, our Google representative explains, “Real estate companies can continue to use tools from Google to help connect with buyers and renters who use the Internet to research properties. For example, companies can use the Google Maps API to embed customized maps that are useful to potential clients right on their own web pages. Our Google for real estate professionals site contains various methods for generating leads and improving real estate businesses.”
The removal of real estate listings from Google Maps is scheduled to take place by February 10.