For anyone who missed it (maybe living under a rock isn’t such a good idea?), internet giant Google launched its long-awaited foray into UK property listings this week, and boy will it blow the market wide open.
A recent Office of Fair Trading study recently concluded that more efforts must be made to open up house sales in the UK, and to ensure that new and innovative business models using the internet, like those simply introducing private sellers to potential buyers are not hampered by unnecessary legislation.
With Google now allowing private sellers to list their property on Google Maps for free, that aim has been pushed forward immensely.
Almost everyone knows about Google Maps, and its wondrous Streetview capability that lets us look at almost every street in the developed world as if looking through our living room window.
Increasing numbers of people have been using this impressive new technology to view properties for sale and rent that they are considering enquiring about.
There are those that scoff at people who claim difficulty in flicking between browser windows and tabs, but when you are comparing several properties, maybe they are on different portals; looking at their details and then their picture and surrounding on Google Maps Streetview, it can get quite difficult. Not to mention the fact that older computers can sometimes freeze or crash under the strain.
The fact that sellers can list their property directly in Google Maps is massively good for buyers and sellers alike.
So, say you wanted to move to Bransholme in Hull (don’t cast your eyes up): to find a property there now, all you have to do is search Bransholme Hull in maps.google.co.uk, and then replace your search with the word property. In seconds the map will be updated showing place markers of all properties for sale and to let in your chosen area.
These can then be refined by for sale or to let, by property type (detached, bungalow etc), by size (studio, 1 bed etc) and by the number of bathrooms, all on the panel to the left of the map, which will automatically revise the place markers.
Google spent months garnering the support of the industry’s big names (to give it some properties on the board to open with), those who went for the partnership were: Zoopla, PropertyLive, Ezylet, SmartNewHomes, Vebra, Property Pal and Zoomf. Google also got the backing of Spicer Haart and Countrywide, the UKâ€™s largest lettings and estate agency groups respectively.
To be honest, Google really needn’t have bothered; if you were an estate agent or lettings agent, or anyone looking to let or sell houses in the UK, you would be foolish not to take advantage of free listings on Google Maps, wouldn’t you? If you look you can already see listings from other agents, I found dozens in 15 minutes alone.
The UK’s biggest portal is like the elephant in the room here. It has refused to list its properties with Google, because of the years it has spent providing Google map views of properties directly on the properties’ listing page. This, it says is better for the user, because they can view the full details of the property as well as the map and Streetview all in one place.
Miles Shipside, Commercial Director of Rightmove said:
“We do not intend to list properties via the listing service as at this stage. It does not seem to add any extra features or benefits to those that Rightmove already provides.”
Time will tell if they are correct. Either way; few impartial commentators argue that selling homes in the UK lacks choice for consumers, and moves like this by big players like Google are certainly look like correcting that.