In the past when searching for homes online you mainly came accross home photos, content and if you’re lucky, a virtual tour. How things have changed! Many have said 2006 is the year of the map. In the recent past, online mapping has made a dramatic jump forward with Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft all jumping into the open source mapping arena. Of course, the first question you may ask is “How does online mapping help the online real estate experience?”
Imagine searching online for a home. You find a home that peaks your interest. You’ve seen the pictures, but you are not sure where the street is located. Using new mapping technologies you’ll easily see streets, school data, distance to strip malls, freeways, train tracks, towers and more. There are a few companies supplying pre-built packages. The first to come to mind is RealBird.
RealBird, established in 2003, offers a map-based search tool that can be easily branded, customized and added to any real estate website. Choose from Map-based Search or Publisher. RealBirds’ Map-based Search is a powerful IDX property search tool. See example here.
RealBird Publisher does not tap into IDX data. This system has agents enter their listing details once and they will get automatic exposure to 1000’s of syndication partner sites including Google Base (Google’s Classified System), Edgeio.com and more. These listings then show as interactive hotspots on your own maps. On June 14th, 2006 RealBird announced they’ve added the ability to upload video of the property with audio narration from your hard drive, digital video camera or your mobile phone.
If you are in the central valley, IDX Central is your best bet. This Interactive map tool is clean and possibly the most attractive I’ve seen. And just like RealBird you can see from a birds eye view.