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: