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Google Kills Real Estate Search Option on Google Maps

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Back in 2009, when the housing market was hot, hot, hot!, Google added a search option to Google Maps that would allow users to find properties for sale or rent.

This was a fun way to watch the housing market collapse in real time, as well a good way to waste a few minutes looking at dream homes all over the country.

But, sadly, the dream is over. Yesterday, Google announced it was pulling the plug on the real estate search option. From its press release:

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.

We’ve learned a lot and been excited to see real estate companies use Google Maps in innovative ways to help people find places to live, such as Coldwell Banker’s use of Google Maps and YouTube, or Realtor.com’s Android app that lets you draw a shape on a map to find all properties you’re interested in.

Yet we recognize that there might be better, more effective ways to help people find local real estate information than the current feature makes possible. We’ll continue to explore this area, but in the meantime, Google offers other options to home-seekers: you can still access other information in Maps such as local businesses, directions and transit times, as well as aerial and Street View imagery to explore where you might want to move, and also use Google search results to find helpful real estate information and websites.

Todd Carpenter over at the National Association of Realtor’s reflects:

I'm sorry to see them go. I thought Google's entry into RE was a good thing because competition is good. Since that time, Move has completely overhauled REALTOR.com into something that Google doesn't feel they should compete with. Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

In any event, it’s always exciting and encouraging to watch Google try new things. And, hey, it’s equally admirable when a company realizes that something isn’t working and makes the appropriate course correction.

And for anyone who’s still interested in scouring the nation for dirt cheap real estate, there’s always this.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.

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