Google now offers a full suite of tools for real estate professionals that let you reach prospects in your region at all stages of their home search – while they’re looking for properties, checking out locations, and selecting an agent or broker. These tools have actually been around for a while and Google is just repackaging and positioning them for real estate professionals.
The tools they are referring to are Google Base, AdWords, Maps, Earth, Local Business Center, Google Sketchup, and Google Apps. It’s actually a great idea and it shows how flexible Google’s products are that they can easily cater to specific industries like real estate. Their overall message is that Google can help generate real estate referrals and leads to help connect to home buyers and sellers since Google has more real estate searches than other search engines combined.
So are these tools actually helpful for you, the real estate professional? In short, yes but not all the tools in the suite are exactly easy to use. Here’s a quick rundown of what each tool is for and it’s ease of use.
Google Base – It’s essentially Google’s version of Craigslist.com which hasn’t quite caught on yet. It’s still another free marketing outlet so it wouldn’t hurt to post real estate for sale on it. Take a look at it here. Ease of use: Simple
Google AdWords – This is probably the best tool of the suite for driving targeted traffic and leads to your site. These are the ads you see on the right side of Google’s search results. If you aren’t already running a paid search program, I’d recommend you
(aff) now. Ease of use: Medium
Google Maps – This product is quite cool but requires a technical person to set it up on your website. I always use this product when I need to get from point A to point B. Plug in two addresses, and it creates step by step directions for you. For real estate professionals, you would display your listings on detailed maps and satellite imagery and give your users a visual, intuitive way to find the property that is right for them. You can see an example of this in the above image. Try it here. Ease of use: Difficult
Google Earth – An even cooler version of Google Maps, this product allows you to fly around the world using 3D satellite imagery. If you’ve got the technical resources and sophisticated audience, this would be a great differentiator for your website. You can download it here. Ease of use: Difficult
Google’s Local Business Center – This is Google’s version of the yellow pages but a more targeted version. When potential customers search Google Maps for local information, they’ll find your business information such as your address and hours of operation. You want your name and address to be displayed when they search, this is the tool for you. Only requires a one-time setup. Ease of use: Simple
Google SketchUp – Want to create 3D models of homes or other properties? Well then this is the tool for you. You can also enhance your website listing by using the animation capability of Google Sketchup Pro. It even allows your customers to freely explore the home, community and its surroundings in 3D. They claim it’s easy to use but if you’re not good with computers or have some experience with 3D modeling, I’d stay away from this. Download their free version here. Ease of use: Difficult
Google Apps – This is essentially MS office but an online Google version. You can collaborate on documents and spreadsheets more effectively, have shareable calendars, and even instant messaging capability. It’s a great product especially if you travel a lot and and need to share documents and spreadsheets across multiple real estate professionals. It’s all web-based so make sure you have an internet connection. The Google Apps Standard Edition is free but if you need more features you can pay $50/per user/per year for the Premier Edition. I recommend you
(aff) now. Ease of use: Medium
Overall, I’d say for the typical real estate professional you should be using Google Base, Google AdWords, and Google’s Local Business Center to increase your company awareness and drive new leads to your website. Using Google Apps would be an added bonus but not required if you aren’t ready to change your business processes. Google Maps, Earth, and Sketchup and for those with technical resources to handle the development required to make them work.