The Mercury News reports that both Google and Yahoo are in talks with CoStar Group, commercial real estate’s largest firm. With Google’s reputation for building clean and fast web applications and their vast source of neighborhood data from Google Local, they definitely have the potential to build a killer application.
Along these lines, there have been some interesting discussions around the web lately with regards to developing sites around Google Maps. Greg Linden reminded me of a conversation I had a long time ago with Paul Rademacher (of HousingMaps). Back in June, Paul mentioned that he was reluctant to build a real estate search engine using MLS data because (1) all of the data was owned by other people and (2) the mash-ups are so easy to replicate.
I thought that Search Engine Watch had an interesting addition to this conversation when they point out that the real winner of the API/mashup model is often the company that is opening their service up. The mash-ups are a great breading ground for interesting ideas… but that when push comes to shove, the mash-ups are really just providing a way for companies like Google to let others figure out what mapping add-on technologies are worth pursuing:
It also demonstrates what I told a journalist recently about APIs not perhaps being as altruistic as they seem. Give the world an API to your service, and it’s a nice way to let everyone develop new ideas that you might later decide to do yourself, if they seem successful. It’s like Google’s 20 percent time on steroids, because non-Google developers still end up doing work for you.
As someone very interested in the future of real estate search, I’d definitely welcome someone like Google in the mix because I think they could add some some desperately needed innovation to the real estate industry.