Google Tools for Real Estate Professionals
I was excited to learn that Google recently announced that they had refined their real estate search. Google has brought so many productive tools and incredible innovation to the internet. However, real estate has been one area that Google simply has not been able to get right.
A few years ago when Google first announced that they were entering the real estate search sphere, realtors around the world wondered what it meant to them.
Could it mean the end of the real estate professional? The answer to that question depends upon how you see the role of a real estate agent. Realtors can be considered information gatekeepers, relationship builders, or service professionals (amongst other things).
Those in the real estate industry that view their role as information gatekeepers were the ones most worried about Google. They believe that the greatest value of a realtor is their ability to provide access to the local MLS data. For instance, using a realtor is the only way that you are able to learn what homes are for sale, or create an accurate picture of what your home is worth.
For that reason, many real estate boards throughout Canada have been very protective of their data (the MLS listings). What this perspective fails to realize is that realtors are more than just gatekeepers to information. Realtors provide professional expertise, market knowledge, experience and customer service to bear on every real estate transaction.
In my own experience, I learn something new in each and every transaction that allows me to be better at what I do. A colleague of mine says that this complexity is one of the reasons that he loves being a realtor. Every transaction is different and nearly every day brings new challenges to the point where even after 35 years in the business he is still learning.
I'm not concerned about Google's foray into real estate. I welcome the "competition" and hope that it can become a useful tool for people looking to buy or sell real estate in Vancouver. Even Google will have a hard time with real estate. While the tool is impressive, their data (not surprisingly) is lacklustre.
Surfing around Vancouver looking at the rental or for sale listings I quickly learned that they are inaccurate and out of date. Of course, this is because Google's data is only as good as the data that is being fed into it. At this point, their sources are unimpressive (websites such as sublet.com or visualtour.com). Only when Google can gain access to the complete MLS listings will they really be relevant to Vancouver real estate, but even Craigslist would be a great start.
About Sebastian Albrecht:
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