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To Map or NOT to MAP – That is the question?

In an age where small companies are trying to define the terms of how real estate is presented and practiced, medium to large brokerages are having to out leap the so-called deep thinkers. I remember when I became a Realtor, my idea of real estate was overshadowed by the naysayers who said that real estate cannot be changed, “it’s been this way for over 100 years.” Looking around at the industry on a horizon where all things are flat, they were right. Grab your print marketing dollars and go to town. Today, Realtors are faced with the choice- take a chance on big Internet marketing, mix the two or just go technology? I, for one, laugh every time I get a flyer on my door, but that does not make it irrelevant in the sense that it doesn’t work, ever.

This brings me to my fundamental issue of the moment, which is- do you bother to introduce IDX mapping to your online presence or go the way of the traditional bluehair and leave the static IDX image in tact? What do or will consumers want in the long run? I do believe that all buyers really want is an address and pictures, but in a world where Texas is touted as receiving 400,000 relos a year, we have to look at providing the larger picture for the buyer- they need to know what it means to be on XYZ St. Austin Tx, 78XXX.

I’ve spent the better part of 3 weeks looking at every end of mapping technology and was pleased to learn that a large cap investment isn’t necessary. IDX mapping is out there for all to see and purchase for their sites. I brought one of the sites online to test and try out, and as a nice pleasantry, they even waived the setup fee of $199.00. I completely give credit that the service is more flexible than other offerings in the market place, however, the look and feel of it answers to a bluehair’s idea of what modern technology looks like but ignores what those in the know are looking for. I did find a more packaged look from another company and we are in the process of conforming it. Meanwhile, I had to let the existing company know that I was going a different direction. That led to him asking me why I was leaving, to which I responded with the following:

There are 11 different idx map integration offerings in the market place that I’ve found but only two have a packaged interface that feels and looks more like google, yahoo, or msve- not to mention the countless other platforms such as zooven, and others that will be marching into our market place in the coming year. We either look like them, or loose market share to them. I’ll be watching your product over the coming months to see what if anything is improved, but for now, I have to go with what is the closest thing to a national look.

I went on to explain that I had called a few times with little success in reaching them for help in getting on the same page with no luck. Jeff replied with the following:

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I will tell you that of the thousands of customers we have, the most prolific ones, do not use any mapping what so ever. As a matter of fact, they refuse to use it. The other 98% of our customers talk about “mapping” until they are blue in the face. And they are the ones who have very little traffic to their sites. And also do very little business. In my opinion, the whole mapping thing is horribly overstated. I base this opinion purely on the activity of our top customers sites.

The question is- is 98% of his base wrong, and the 2% correct? Are you saying that 98% of the market doesn’t drag down the 2% holdout total market share? Is a company who is totally focused on IDX integration saying that mapping integration is stupid? 98% of those who want mapping are either stupid or small potatoes?

Jeff with IDX Broker is actually a really nice guy, but I look at companies like Zillow, Google, Yahoo, Zooven and can see how these large companies will (in the long run) pick apart the market share of medium to small brokerages, and even some large ones. Think about it… the point of providing an online source for every need is to keep them coming to you again and again and then buy or sell. In Jeff’s world, the market share begins at purchase, not at online service, and if you want to cover all bases with great interactive options for buyers and sellers, you’re just stupid and the world is flat.

I digress in that I do not believe a search map on the front page being everything you offer is the way to go. I am simply trying to bring IDX Resale Searching back to the forefront in my market in a way that looks as fresh as an online non-realtor site. Is 98% now the minority?

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. john harper

    July 7, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Let me know your final choice of products. I like the analysis and questioning. I don’t see a link on your blog to your main site.

    I’m not sure I can buy Jeff’s comment – sounds like something a salesperson would throw out.

  2. Marty Van Diest

    July 8, 2007 at 12:04 am

    Just stopped by to read your post for carnival of real estate.

    I don’t have mapping on my site…guess I better step up.

    Huh? I don’t even have IDX on my site. Bettey get some blue hair dye.

  3. B. R.

    July 8, 2007 at 8:46 am

    Marty! You have a blog and you’re hosting the carnival! Hold up on that dye!

    Honestly, idx has been secondary on my site as well as the look and feel of it really leaves a lot to be desired. The point of all of this is is outsiders have reinvented it and made it “neato.” So why not provide it ourselves if technology allows…

    Thanks for coming by!

  4. Heinrich

    August 7, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Hey Realty Genius,
    Genius Realty here… We’ve had our mapping tool up for about two years now and it is home grown. Give it a run. It even uses Ajax at the beginning of the search. Let us know what you think of it.

  5. B. R.

    August 7, 2007 at 11:36 pm

    I checked out your site and your map search function- I searched all of Boise 3/2 200k to 300k as a simple test (this is the same test I run on all search sites) and it choked. My suggestion is limit results to 150 as a start and give searchers the option to load the full boat with a warning.

    It isn’t just your map product that does that, most of them do with mixed results. Either pictures do not load, the map is too congested w/ indicators, or the wait ends up frustrating those who are searching.

    All in all I liked your site and your search results. Nice clean lay out, clean interface, great spacing between results in lists. I liked the truck, great branding, nice logo and appeal.

    Cheers.

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