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Zillow to power real estate in Google Now

Zillow just announced that it has cut a deal with Google to bring real estate to Google Now.

What the heck is Google Now? It’s basically a reverse Siri, an intelligent assistant that anticipates what you might need, want or be interested in rather than just responding to you.

It’s also probably the only thing that will ever get me to buy an Android device.

The service, which launched last year, proactively grabs or alerts you to things in categories like travel, sports, traffic, events, places and package delivery. Information is presented via “cards” that appear when you want them too.

Here’s how Google describes it:

Google Now gets you just the right information at just the right time.

It tells you today’s weather before you start your day, how much traffic to expect before you leave for work, when the next train will arrive as you’re standing on the platform, or your favorite team’s score while they’re playing. And the best part? All of this happens automatically. Cards appear throughout the day at the moment you need them.

Cool, right? But also more than just cool. This is a glimpse into a not-too-distant future where “search” – with its form fields, drop downs, filters and work - seems as insane as pulling over to use a pay phone. What you want will come to you in context because you have, through actions passive and deliberate, taught a big brain in the sky a little bit about who you are.

Of course, you might say that this is nothing more interesting than a push notification or even an email listing alert. And in a small way you’d be right. But what we see here is real estate’s first step into a wholly reimagined experience.

That is big.

Looking inward to the industry, I think this scrambles the “syndication” narrative a bit. For years, brokers have thought about this as sending their listings to websites that compete with their own website. Or sending their listings to mobile apps that compete with their own app or apps.

But no broker has a Google Now.

I also think, paradoxically, that as Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com take brokers to places to which they would not otherwise be able to go, those brokers increase their leverage. Because while brokers need to reach consumers in new places, the online players absolutely must do so. As the listings pipeline extends into new territory there is more of it to sabotage.

So what’s next? Will Apple seek a partner to add real estate to iOS just as they baked in local with Yelp?

Interesting times. More later.

Here’s a brief intro to Google Now:

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12 Responses to “Zillow to power real estate in Google Now”

  1. Ken Brand says:

    Things are moving so freaking fast. I guess a smart strategy is to become indelibly relevant and trusted by people who live in your community. Otherwise it’s just a matter of time before we’re blue frayed collared sharecroppers for listings syndication plantation owners. Thanks for keeping us informed. I appreciate it.

  2. Jay Thompson says:

    Jay T. from Zillow here. As always, thanks for your insight Brian. We’re excited about the Google Now announcement. Last week it was HGTV/FrontDoor. Now more than ever it makes sense for agents, brokers and sellers to have their homes on sites like Zillow. No listings on “ZTR” now means no listings on Yahoo!, HGTV Frontdoor, Google Now, Hotpads (all powered by Zillow) or AOL or MSN (both powered by R.com). Not to mention missing out on being visible on some of the most popular mobile apps out there.

    It’s past time to end the “syndication debate” and move on to Discussions that actually help agents, brokers and consumers.

    • Brandon Hoffman says:

      Or better yet, brokerages stop allowing 3rd party syndication at all so the information on controlled sites. If anything, you should be paying the brokerages for the right to syndicate, but if it were my call it wouldn’t happen at all. I’m tired of calls about dated or inaccurate information from 3rd party sites. Stopping syndication would fix it all.

    • Kent Wolfe says:

      Jay, isn’t your point the same argument that plagued the real estate industry for years that lead to changes? In the past, if you wanted to see a property on the MLS the person would need to use a broker, but now if a person wants to see a property on Yahoo, Google Now and others, the broker must syndicate with Zillow otherwise it’s off limits. Why is this any different?

      Why would you believe something like this wouldn’t add fuel to the anti-syndication fire? It seems you’re fanning the flames, not dousing them.

    • Philip Winburn says:

      Thanks for your comments Jay.

      Until three months ago our site http://www.Huntsville-Homes.com dominated all keywords in the Huntsville real estate market. We have been falling in rankings but our Google Places page ( https://plus.google.com/103794696247714608605/ ) is still getting traffic and good placement. We recently purchased a zillow website we are still setting up. We have a zillow profile page ( http://www.zillow.com/profile/PhilipWinburn1/ )

      What else can we do to generate traffic? Are our years of linking and SEO no longer useful?

      Since home searches have so many factors and clients usually need help how will Zillow be able to deliver targeted listings?

  3. Abraham Baghbodorian says:

    I am a realtor, and not a week goes by without my receiving an inquiry about a property that is either already is in escrow or sold.
    I make it a habit to ask the callers where they saw the listings, and without fail it is always Zillow.

    So I am truly surprised that Google who has been pushing G+ & local, would be abandoning the local realtors for real estate searchs, and opting to show listings from Zillow that are not up to date.

    It seems Google here did not do their homework , and in this partnership between Google Now and Zillow , Google will end up undermining it’s search results.

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