19/09/2006 - 22:00

Google link opens up a new world

19/09/2006 - 22:00

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Online real estate sites are logging on to the opportunities provided by Google Maps technology as national and local providers race to get connected to the world’s leading search engine.

Google link opens up a new world

Online real estate sites are logging on to the opportunities provided by Google Maps technology as national and local providers race to get connected to the world’s leading search engine.

News Ltd’s flagship property site, realestate.com.au, is expected to announce a partnership with Google this week, following hot on the heels of its closest rival, Fairfax-owned domain.com.au, which launched its partnership with Google on September 7.

The technology will allow users searching for property listings to zoom in on chosen lots using high definition satellite photos overlaid with detailed street mapping.

realestate.com.au online advertising Australia business manager, Shaun Di Gregorio, told WA Business News the site would work in conjunction with Google to deliver a quality product.

Mr Di Gregorio said realestate.com.au customers wanted more local knowledge when searching for property. Mapping, he said, enabled them find a route to the property and see it before they physically get there.

“Broadband speeds are arguably getting better and so this technology is coming more and more to the fore. We have the benefit now of being in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and other markets and we have a pretty broad sweep of what they’re doing,” Mr Di Gregorio said.

While the listed company is keeping the details of its upcoming innovations quiet, Mr Di Gregorio revealed that virtual tours and mobile phone integration were already cost-effective advertising tools the business would be seeking to advance.

Independent auditors Nielsen/Net Ratings estimate the number of people searching for real estate online is growing significantly.

A recent report by the auditors showed real estate hits have risen 44 per cent during the past 12 months, with 4.2 million people logging on to at least one Australian real estate site in August, compared with 2.9 million visitors in August 2005.

About one in three property buyers surveyed cited realestate.com.au as the first port of call in the search for real estate to buy in Australia.

Fairfax is hoping to change this.

At the launch of its Domain Maps using Google’s Beta Version, Fairfax indicated its online real estate category was a priority area and a market in which it would be pushing for a greater share.

In Western Australia, boutique site aussiehome.com has not been left behind, signing up with Google last week before releasing street-level maps onto its website.

aussiehome.com co-founder Nick Streuli said location was a crucial element in the search for real estate, and was one of the most popular parts of its site, along with suburb price trend charting, route directions to every property and photo slideshows.

 “For us to use this mapping, we had to see address matching otherwise there would be no real value in it,” he said.

“With this function in place now, the maps look a lot better and it gives visitors a great indication of lot orientations, lot size and proximity to roads and amenity.”

Another WA-based site, reiwa.com, will also have access to Google Maps shortly through its server-based mapping system, Autodesk.

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