James' Blog about Property

Discussion, advice and philosophical points about all things property whether UK or International markets

Google property launched in the UK but would it work in the overseas market place?

Posted by jamesdearsley on June 17, 2010

So the big day has arrived. The moment that some had feared, some had fascinated about and some had meerly been curious. Google launched their property “portal” search function on the Google Map platform.

Having been fascinated by the progress they were making for some time now (it was an immediate give away when Street View launched) and having written about it back in July last year I felt I had to comment once more. If you want to try it click here as it is well worth it but to be honest it is what I would call a “Ronseal Ryanair” website in that it does exactly what it says it will with the little or no additional features.

I predicted back in July last year that the Property Portals would suffer and the Agents would have to be aware of this situation and work with Google to implement it all together. Those that didn’t would fall behind as ultimately it would be a really good service to clients. Interestingly, some portals have evidentally been working with Google (Zoopla in particular which perhaps has the additional features it needs to progress in some form of symbiotic relationship) but Rightmove has steered clear.

Anyway, Google have now succeeded in launching in the US, Australia and the UK but would they be able to do this elsewhere? Lets look at Spain as a great example. In principle there are two very predominant markets in Spain and the New Build has been the stronger market historically (obviously the recession has altered this slightly) and this, I believe would cause Google major problems.

In the UK one of the criticisms was the issue of multi agency dealing causing a lot of spam building up. Imagine a vendor has their property with three agencies. Google will therefore pick up three enteries for this property. I have to say, in the short time I played with it I didn’t see any evidence of this but still, logically it makes sense.

The developers in Spain are represented by hundreds of agents at a time not just two or three. This could be a major flaw in the Google model here and will be interesting to see how it is counteracted. The Resale market would actually benefit as I believe it would give clients that global appeal that often they feel they are lacking. Sometimes, if people pick the wrong agent in Spain (and believe me it is far easier to do this in Spain than the UK) it is often a long term wrong decision as rectifying it usually involves going over to Spain and picking a new agent.

Usually smaller agents market only locally rather than having the scope to advertise internationaly like some of the larger companies. Google would obvioulsy be able to help here and perhaps an indicator of their wishes is once again seen in the Street View progress. Already it has covered a vast area of Europe and so it wouldn’t take a lot to carry out the next step.

I have always been an advocate of working together with positive companies and I think this is a classic example of one that could benefit companies if they harness Googles powers. After all, look at the figures coming out of Australia. After initial scepticism (The REA Groups share price dropped nearly 7%) within 6 months the market was reacting positively and their share price was up 53% and traffic to their site had increased from 4.5m in June 09 to 5.4m in October 09.

You cannot say fairer than that but it will be interesting to see if and when they expand it further.

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