The news that Google has launched its real estate portal, Google Maps is fantastic news for real estate buyers, vendors and the industry as a whole. The big players in Australia have been able to charge excessive amounts of money for far too long and the added competition that Google will bring can only act to bring prices down – Domain and Realestate.com.au are fearful and so they should be.
The two major portals have enjoyed a duopoly for many years with the other portals representing a fraction of the total real estate search traffic. As a consequence contract prices for agencies to load properties on the two sites have been high and have been passed onto vendors in the form of internet marketing charges. The inclusion of the free Google portal will make it impossible for the big 2 to justify any price increases for access to their sites – with lost market share it could be argued that prices should drop.
I have read media reports which have stated that both Domain and Realestate.com.au are considering withdrawing their advertising from Google. If they do there will be advertising opportunities for others and in any case it will hardly make a dent in the massive revenue that Google receives. I have also heard claims that Google are “suddenly” losing sight of the fact that they are a search engine provider that sells advertising. This is simply untrue.
Google has been moving toward other services and expanding the scope of its business for some time. Google offers free software such as word processing and spreadsheets and has moved into the provision of its own telephone technology. The move into real estate is yet another move in the expansion of services provided by Google and companies should be prepared for many more. Any company that considers themselves immune from companies like Google is failing to plan for the future.
Competition is a wonderful thing and can only act to bring better products at a cheaper price to the market. It’s never good to be a company that is left behind, especially when you have enjoyed such market domination as Domain and Realestate.com.au. The reality is that business must shift and change and those that don’t will become extinct in the same way that advertising real estate in local newspapers will soon be a thing of the past.