A small move by Google offers a peak into online real estate’s future

Google announced a relatively modest enhancement to its Google Earth iPhone app last Friday that got my mind going.

Now, when a user “flies” to a location in Earth and clicks one of the icons that denote a “place,” they see a neatly arranged collection of media that bring it to life – photos, videos, Wikipedia entries and comments from users. The number of “places” tagged by users is limited, as are the volume of photos and videos. But that won’t always be the case.

What we have here is a mobile media mashup with interesting implications for online real estate. Here’s what it looks like:


Mobile real estate apps are still in their infancy. Trulia, Homes.com and others are blazing a new trail by delivering listings to smart phones with elegant applications built specifically for the small screen.

But I think we’re going to move beyond mobile listings pretty quickly. I’ve written recently about creating a more richly visual online real estate experience, one that provides the user much more to support a decision to live somewhere.

Google is slowly knitting together all kinds of interesting place-based experiences. A couple weeks ago I noted their addition of location-specific images to Street View. I don’t see this stopping.

This also begs the question: When will the sleeping giant of online real estate – Google Base – be pushed across and into the increasingly vast range of apps and services the company offers?

So envision this: A buyer is out on a Sunday looking for homes. They pull up all the opens on their smart phone based on their location (this is possible now). But they are also able to view photos, videos, local business reviews, news and blog posts in the immediate vicinity – from one elegant mobile application. They “lift up the hood” on the place around them, make a smarter decision and save themselves (and their agent) a ton of time.

I’m looking forward to it.