It's good to be Google, with deep pockets and a virtual lock on the online search market. The innovative G-techies are seemingly in constant build mode, releasing new tools, usually free, to facilitate consumers online in many areas. Real estate is no exception.
Here is a rundown of the latest ways that Google has made it easier to look online for homes to buy, in order of recent launches:
Still in beta phase, Google Wave is a hosted conversation to replace the decades-old technology called e-mailing. Think IM (instant messaging) + Images + Video + Maps + File Sharing all on same web page.
With Google Wave, you and your friends, families and colleagues are all online at same time; you can see each one's response, drag and drop attachments, and use playback tool to catch up on the conversation.
The Wave could be a nifty way to augment your online home searches by seeking tips and sharings of home sightings, etc. by your e-contacts.
(As a realtors, you could use Google Wave to refine your marketing and sales techniques by rewinding IM conversations, blog and image posts and discussion thread dialogue to see how property discussions evolved.)
Google Maps has added "Real Estate" as a tabbed feature which populates the left-side panel with location-appropriate property listings - for sale, rent or foreclosures - which can be further refined using the search criteria. Currently this feature is not (yet) available for Canada, only for Google Maps for the US, Australia, New Zealand, and India.
As well, Google recently simplied the process of real estate brokers uploading their listings to Google - using data feeds or a Google Base API (if you happen to know a web programmer).
Google Street View
Google Street View officially became available for Canadian neighbourhoods this fall - the technology that lets you fly down to the street curb level and cruise in a 360-degree manner around the yards, buildings, etc. with remarkable 'zoom'-ability to see details. If you haven't tried flying "Pegman" around a neighbourhood yet, I suggest you give it a try.
CENTURY 21 Canada recently integrated Google Street View right into its search function on Century21.ca. We've also added new Google Maps API features to Century21.ca.
Previewing homes for sale on the Internet has never been easier - saving your precious time before you head out to walk through the properties. As we enter a new year, we fully expect there will continue to be technology breakthroughs on the Internet in general, and of course at Century21.ca.
Have you used Google Wave or Google Street View? If so, what has your experience been like? Leave your comments below.