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Google Real Estate Search – New Trend Away from MLS Based IDX

real-estate-wordpress-plugin

No IDX Required says it all.

RealShout has launched its plug and play Real Estate Search Wordpress plugin that actually says it quite clearly, “no idx required!” And although RealShout, a division of Go Smart Solutions did its best to get the word out via press releases and a few choice emails and blog comments, it got very little real press.

Remember that MLS punking?

The plugin itself is one of a few new WordPress plugins that capitalize on Google’s Real Estate Search as of late that signals a potential shift away from costly MLS dues, and forced relationships with Associations that some agents want no part of, as well as what it costs to get IDX service providers into new markets.

On the surface the idea of utilizing Google Real Estate Search seems innocuous enough in that the major complaint is that data may not be as up to date as it should be, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. Agents have an opportunity to do what they do best which is verify property availability and schedule showings based on those conversations.  It essentially works in tandem with what Agents do every single day.

Circumventing Absurdity

Also, there are many markets in the country that do not allow agent IDX at all, and this type of solution absolutely circumvents that absurdity all the way around lending new and marvelous opportunities to expose listings in ways they couldn’t before further supplementing the listing agents portfolio offering, including indexing in Google the listings themselves.

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The big picture is so beautiful

Let’s face it, just as Google was once new, its search functionality improved, I suspect that so will Google’s Real Estate Search, and as Agents utilize this type of solution more and more it will only get smarter in turn working with Google’s Nexus One and Android operating system.

Back to the pluginrealshout

RealShout’s Real Estate WordPress Plugin is customizable through and through and they offer further customization for independent agents and brokers as well as supplemental lead capture systems (AG nor I have any affiliation).  The plugin itself is free, offers detailed search criteria, photos, Google maps, save and contact agent tabs, as well as neighborhood places with area info and more and I see no reason that a plugin such as this couldn’t be used on ghost sites, idle domains, or even in tandem with your current idx search- give it a shot, let us know what you think!

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.

50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Cameron Novak

    January 6, 2010 at 4:29 am

    I’ll have to take this in over time. Quite a change!

    Cameron
    Corona Real Estate Agent
    Corona, California

  2. Ken Brand

    January 6, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Looks pretty cool. Especially useful, HAR sends all their listing data to Google Base. I’ve banged around and installed it on my blog, took about 20 minutes, because I’m slow. In the end, I can’t the maps to serve up. I’ve sent them a help request. Not sure, what I missed, I double checked all at the settings and added the Google Map API. We’ll see.

    Sharing this kind of stuff is awesome. Thanks Benn.

  3. Janie Coffey

    January 6, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Great topic Benn. RealBird is using Google Base to create property search links for agents with custom keyword search. It’s an amazing tool for agents. I can create a totally custom search and post the link on Craigslist, Backpage, my blog, Twitter, etc. and capture EXTREMELY targeted buyers (price, location, keyword specific). Works like a total charm. I love it! The old grip the boards had on info is dissipating quickly and the TOP agents are going to be in front of the wave, not struggling to keep up.

  4. Jim Duncan

    January 6, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Fascinating. Between this and Diverse Solutions’ new plugin for IDX search, everyone’s going to have searchable listings on their sites … but as MLS listings are further commoditized, they are devalued. So what’s the value in having something just because everyone else has them?

    I wonder if/when Google will allow us to embed their google real estate search?

    (and this commoditization and devaluation is another reason that I think RPR has a shot at being a tremendous value-add for Realtors)

    • Benn Rosales

      January 6, 2010 at 10:09 am

      That’s what this plugin does, it’s a pull from GoogleRE not MLS – no idx required.

    • Robert Drummer

      January 6, 2010 at 10:51 am

      What is the value-add that RPR brings to Realtors that doesn’t exist today? Could Google’s recent move into parcel mapping and the associated data aggregation make RPR a non-starter?

  5. Fred Romano

    January 6, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I tried this out and it screwed up my website’s sidebar, also it was very difficult to figure out the setup. Lame duck as far as I’m concerned. I’d go with IDXBroker if I was going to have a “real” search on my site.

    Right now I use a free solution from our mls and “iframe” it. I like IDXBroker because they offer complete integration into the website.

  6. Nobu

    January 6, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Fantastic! This opens the door to a wealth of opportunity and innovation for us Realtors, thank you open-source technology. We’re all on notice at this point: brush up on your GoogleBase skills.

    • Fred Romano

      January 6, 2010 at 10:50 am

      I doubt that Google can replace the need for IDX unless every MLS ships their data to GoogleMaps. I personally think that would be a bad idea. Listing information should be limited so brokers can retain some control over their data. Giving it up to almighty Google is not a good thing.

      • Benn Rosales

        January 6, 2010 at 11:39 am

        “I doubt that Google can replace the need for IDX unless every MLS ships their data to GoogleMaps” That’s the really fascinating part right there, Fred, you know those markets that do not allow agents an IDX feed at all nor public MLS will be the perfect testing ground.

  7. Fred Romano

    January 6, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Does anyone know all the tables names this plugin creates? I want to remove them from my WP database. ** PS. if they were smart, they would have prefixed their database codes with something like rs_ so one would know.**

    Any help would be appreciated.

    • Fred Romano

      January 6, 2010 at 10:46 am

      Forget that… I figured it out.

      • stamp

        February 11, 2010 at 2:47 pm

        Fred Romano:

        How did you figure out where the database is? I need to access it too. Thanks.

  8. Fred Glick

    January 6, 2010 at 11:20 am

    Any idea how we hook up with google to submit our listings?

  9. Janie Coffey

    January 6, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Fred, your MLS may already push to Google base, but if not, quite a few 3rd party listing portals do. For example, I post all my listings on Realbird, they push to quite a few including Hotpads who push to Google Base so all of ours are there already, no extra work required… But quite a few do as well. Yours might already be there if you use these portals…

    • Benn Rosales

      January 6, 2010 at 11:40 am

      really wicked point.

      • Janie Coffey

        January 6, 2010 at 11:48 am

        Benn, makes it really really easy 😉 I’m all about maximizing efficiency!

    • Fred Romano

      January 6, 2010 at 2:16 pm

      Oh yeah both of the mls’s I use most of the time already do. I am a flat fee broker, so it really doesn’t phase me. But if I were a traditional broker I’d be worried about loosing control.

  10. Misty Lackie

    January 6, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Thanks Benn for the coverage. You can see a couple of sites this is currently being used on at https://realestateinchicago.com/ and https://www.jenspwagner.com/. We have lots of plans to enhance this over time. Your comment “you know those markets that do not allow agents an IDX feed at all nor public MLS will be the perfect testing ground.” is one of the main reasons we developed this. We have a few clients that are in this exact situation.

  11. Misty Lackie

    January 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    I also think Benn hit it right on with “the major complaint is that data may not be as up to date as it should be, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing. Agents have an opportunity to do what they do best which is verify property availability and schedule showings based on those conversations. It essentially works in tandem with what Agents do every single day.”

    Fred – not sure why it was messing up your sidebar. Maybe it was conflicting with the template?? We would be happy to help though. As for an “iframe” solution – that will get a search on your site but will have no value in search engines. Search engines will not be able to index listings in an iframe so your website will not value from organic or long-tail search traffic. I recommend to all of our clients to use a solution that integrates a NON iframe search. There are good IDX solutions that offer a non-iframed search and of course this plugin offers that too.

  12. Justin LaJoie

    January 6, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Interesting post but I see a few flaws with this. While I think getting indexable listings on WordPress site is a must. The data you provide must be complete. The listings that are exported to Google in all cases I have seen are just subsets of the actual IDX data. Not all the detail information is there along with missing properties of those that decided to opt out of syndication. I guess this would be fine if you had no other options. But the agent down the street who you compete with just may be getting the complete IDX data for his WordPress site. The more data for the consumers searching and search engines the better (to a certain extent) along with providing as much information as possible when those customers land on those details or city pages from the search results or SERPs.

  13. Houstonblogger

    January 6, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I feel like such a nimrod in these type of situations. All I can get from this is “Google, blah, blah, blah, IDX, blah, blah, blah, MLS….” It is Greek to me. Do I need to get a degree in computer programming now to be a Realtor? I’m so confused. Help a poor soul.

  14. Chuck G

    January 7, 2010 at 12:02 am

    I’m early in the installation process, but I did notice that this plug-in really slowed down my page load times, and my site is already as slow as a pig with lipstick lately… so unless I can find a way to eliminate the additional delay, I can’t justify using it.

    I will tinker with it some more though because I like what they’re trying to do…

    • Benn Rosales

      January 7, 2010 at 7:48 am

      Hey chuck, I hate to get into support issues here, but I thought I might let you know that these related post queries, especially with images are often a culprit to slowness in general. disable that plugin and see if your site doesnt load faster all together, if it does, try a plugin called contexual, it’s less drain on your cpu. the other known culprit is gd star, and shadowbox, either one of these two plugins can act negatively with random plugins. also, you’ll note we dropped that facebook app, it takes 4 seconds to load all by itself.

      My point is the earlier plugins I mentioned might make your site more natural, related plugins for some reason in the last two wp versions have plagued since 2.8.

      But btw, your site does look rockstar 😉

      • Chuck G

        January 7, 2010 at 8:32 am

        Benn,

        Thanks for the direction on the plug-ins. I’m definitely “guilty as charged” as far as plug-in/widget overload — it used to be worse, but I’m in a good 12-step program now…

        I looked at the site through Firebug and did see that GD-Star and FB are the guilty plug-ins. I’ll tinker with these and see if I can’t streamline the operation a bit more. Contexual sounds interesting. It’s a bit more concerning now with all of the talk about Google taking site-speed into account in their new page rank algorithms.

        Thanks for the kudos on the site. It only took me 2+ years to finally get it right 😉

        Chuck

  15. Misty Lackie

    January 7, 2010 at 1:08 am

    Hi Chuck – if “your site is already as slow as a pig with lipstick lately” adding further plugins will just slow it down even more. This plugin connects to the GoogleBase API so there are resources being taken there. If your site has a lot of other plugins and widgets installed on it, they in addition to this or any other plugin will add to the load time. Of course your hosting can make a difference too. We have the plugin installed on sites that load very fast (example https://realestateinchicago.com/) but they are on good servers and don’t have a lot of other plugins installed.

    You may want to take a look at the WP Super Cache plugin https://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wp-super-cache/. It caches your pages and does help with load times. I have installed this on WordPress sites that are slow on a shared hosting environment and it made a significant difference in load times.

    Also feel free to contact us https://www.realshout.com/contact-realshout.php if you need any help.

    • Chuck G

      January 7, 2010 at 8:36 am

      Hi Misty,

      Thanks for input on wp-super cache. I’ll give it a try — I used wp-cache before, but it didn’t have a noticeable effect on the load times. Biggest impact for me will be to part ways with a few near-and-dear plug-ins….

      CG

  16. Bruce Lemieux

    January 7, 2010 at 4:48 am

    (Sorry in advance if this is a dup – my last comment is stuck in moderation)

    his will only make it more difficult for home buyers to obtain accurate listings. I spent a few hours comparing the data quality of multiple popular web sites in the metro DC area. Specifically, I was curious about the quality of sites like Zillow and Trulia that rely on syndication vs. MLS/IDX based sites. As expected, sites that rely on syndication have horrible, horrible data quality. I tried to include Google, but this was impossible. Too many dots all over the place.

    Here’s my point-in-time review comparing several sites – bit.ly/6SYIw8

    I gotta say, I’m really pissed off at supposed “home search sites” like Zillow, Trulia and Google that rely on syndication. They pose as consumer advocates providing data directly to the people, but it’s all a sham. They know the data quality is crap, but they don’t care, do they? They only want to drive traffic to their sites to sell ads and sell services to real estate agents. If they had any shred of consumer advocacy, they would plaster a big disclaimer on their sites saying “Be aware that active home listings on this site are incomplete and inaccurate, so you shouldn’t rely on data on this site when searching for homes”.

    Now, with free WP plug-ins like this, thousands of agent sites will aid in the propagation of bad data making it even tougher for home buyers. Great. Just great.

    • Daniel Bates

      January 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm

      While I tend to agree with you in regards to zillow and trulia (sweet post by the way). Who knows what Google’s end game is, complete world domination or just geeks playing around? Yes they make they’re money from ads, no denying that, and maybe I’m just crazy, but I kind of trust google, they’re business model has been nothing but provide the masses with amazing free toys so far and it’s making them rich. Yes the data is far from complete, but google hasn’t even put any energy into that and MOST agents now use programs like vflyer that distributes to google. Instead of looking at google as the enemy, why not look at your Realtor board as the enemy, they’re the ones ripping us all off at every chance they get, selling out to homes.com and making REALTOR.com most pathetic resource we all depend on. I look at things like this as a solution for us all to get around on Realtors boards and get some control back in the business. We create the data, we should have control of what is done with it not some good old boys network bent on making the rich richer and holding back technological progress every step of the way…phew, I feel better now. If google wanted, they could make base better than than any MLS search site out there overnight, tying it into so many tools. Yes it’s an industry changer, but are you really happy with where the industry is now?

      • Daniel Bates

        January 7, 2010 at 1:09 pm

        Advise to the wise: If I use this on my site I would indeed put a disclaimer that data is not provided by MLS and therefore cannot be guaranteed as reliable, but call with any questions. You might end up getting a lot of calls from people that want to buy a listing that sold 6 months ago or is a FSBO that isn’t offering any buyer rep payment, but get over it and figure out a way to help them or kindly thank them for their time.

      • Bruce Lemieux

        January 7, 2010 at 1:38 pm

        I guess that’s what it comes down to – “are you happy with your Realtor board?” and “Are you really happy with where the industry is now?”

        I believe that the single biggest, core issue with our industry is the low to non-existent barriers to entry of our profession – not the use/mis-use of listing data. For better or worse, our Realtor boards are the *only* organizations that can implement improvements to our profession. So if we’re not happy with our boards and their rules to share listing data, should we do everything to by-pass them via Google? I don’t think so. As painful as it may be, we should work to improve the existing organizations in place. Actively by-passing our boards only lowers our profession. As an agent, if you are unhappy with the professionalism/direction of your broker (and it’s the broker that owns listing data, not us individual agents), then join a more progressive broker, or start your own.

        Many people think that listing data is public record. It is not. Unlike IDX-based data which must comply with an MLS business rules, syndicated data doesn’t. I don’t believe we should get excited about the ability to propagate inaccurate and incomplete listing data. It’s not in our customer’s interests.

        “Who knows what Google’s end game is?” That’s simple, isn’t it? To make money. There’s nothing wrong with making money, but I don’t think we should assume they have some higher, altruistic mission. People search for homes. They don’t need all the data or complete data, they just need a lot of data so they can profit from those searches. Period.

        • Jim Duncan

          January 7, 2010 at 2:06 pm

          Bruce – Regarding this:

          I believe that the single biggest, core issue with our industry is the low to non-existent barriers to entry of our profession –I believe that the single biggest, core issue with our industry is the low to non-existent barriers to entry of our profession –

          I encourage you to email the NAR Leadership Team – all of them – what you wrote above.

          Heck, I’m contemplating starting a petition drive to let them know how many of us believe what you say – and are willing to let them know.

          The NAR does have the power to effect change; they need to hear from enough of us that we want positive progress.

  17. Susie Blackmon

    January 7, 2010 at 4:48 am

    There is a God!!

  18. Daniel Bates

    January 7, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Well that’s certainly interesting. I’ve been waiting on ListingPress to expand to my area, but this might hold me over and create a little SEO presence on domains that I’ve just got sitting around. test.mcvl.net if anyone wants to see it at work. For distance, you just enter a number, I had “2 miles” and it didn’t work until I changed to just “2”. Must be some other trick to get land to work as well unless nothing in my area has been submitted correctly to that category, anyone else having luck?

  19. Janie Coffey

    January 7, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    1) Regarding low barrier to entry – This is really a huge problem. How is it that we, as Realtors, are the main professionals dealing with often the biggest purchase of someone’s life, both long and short term, have a lower barrier to entry than say, a stock broker, where people can buy penny stocks? I know the example is extreme, but so is the impact we can have on an individual’s life (good or bad).

    2) Do boards really want to control the data for the sake of the consumer? I don’t think so. They want to control it to try to cling to their monopoly. When something goes open source, the kinks that were hidden in the “old way” work themselves out, and so will the quality of the data. It is only a matter of time, regardless of how you feel about it. Once the floodgates are open there is no turning back.

    • Jim Duncan

      January 7, 2010 at 7:26 pm

      Regarding your #1 – Please see my comment above. 🙂

    • Bruce Lemieux

      January 7, 2010 at 7:31 pm

      Janie – on #2, I think this really comes down to the local board. I don’t have experience with any others, but I believe that GCAAR and MRIS (Metro D.C.) are better than most. As an agent, I can get MLS-sourced data from a number of MLS-approved IDX providers – even from MRIS through their Homes Database product. So in my market, there are plenty of places to get quality listing data. Trulia, Zillow and Google aren’t *needed* to provide listing data – they only provide confusion since their data quality is so poor.

      As I think about it, if my board didn’t allow me to present MLS-sourced data, then I’m sure I would look for other sources – like Google and this WP plug-in – and put syndicated listings on my site with a disclaimer. I think its in the best interests of the consumer, brokers and agents to present quality, MLS controlled listing data directly to the public. If a specific board doesn’t get that, then the agents within that board should push hard for change (and run your business, and keep up with technology, and run your life…)

  20. Loren Nason

    January 8, 2010 at 2:28 am

    Ok, I bought a domain name.
    Installed WP
    Installed Theme
    Installed Plugin
    Got API keys
    Setup Plugin

    Took about 2 hours (doing other stuff at same time)

    Thoughts:
    Contact form leaves a LOT to be desired
    I set Home Search page to be home page… this causes generic listings from all over country to show up unless you click on city in sidebar to refresh

    But… It is kinda neat… i bet it will be upgraded… so I give it a thumbs up for a 1.0
    If you want to see it:
    https://www.yorbalindapropertylistings.com

  21. Misty Lackie

    January 8, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Hi Loren – you should be able to control the initial listings on the main page by setting your default search to a city/state in the plugin settings. Looks like the default search on your site is not set to a state or city so it is pulling in everything. Setting the default settings to Yorba Linda, CA should pull in only Yorba Linda listings on that main page. We have already gotten lots of great feedback about things people would like to see in version 2. I would love to hear your suggestions about how the contact form could be improved. Can you submit your suggestions at https://www.realshout.com/contact-realshout.php? We will pretty much be developing out version 2 based on the feedback and requests we get from others.

    • Loren Nason

      January 8, 2010 at 11:42 pm

      Tried setting in to Yorba Linda and CA on the default search settings.

      No dice.
      Maybe it needs to wait for update?

      Either way it’s cool

    • Loren Nason

      January 8, 2010 at 11:44 pm

      Slip of the finger on the mouse.

      Your suggestions fixed it

      Loren

  22. Leah

    February 10, 2010 at 12:06 am

    This is a powerful plugin. We had a couple issues with getting the key – I had to create a separate gmail account but now it’s working smoothly. We are integrating it with a Google map that shows all locations of properties on one map. We customized our WordPress category and archive templates to display listing results so ‘all categories’ will show on on page, and are using a featured posts plugin to display featured listings on the front page. So far RealShout plays nicely with all of these tweaks. One big feauture request: Auto RSS/XML Google submission – As a coder, I know that is a huge project to take on, but a lot of realtors don’t want to deal with submitting data to Google, let alone entering their data into their site.

    firstchoicerealtyonline.com

  23. dems

    April 23, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Hi-
    Wondering if anyone is having problems with the advanced search function? When i search simple, it finds all the listings for that area no problem but as soon as I try the advanced search, it says narrow your search but wont let me get any further no matter what I select from the options

    I imagine i configured it correctly as if i didnt, the simple search wouldnt show the listings but they are definitely there. Also tried disabling other plugins (i dont have many to start with).

    If anyone has had a similar issue or knows how to tackle it, I would be most appreciative to hear about it!

    Thanks!

    • dems

      April 24, 2010 at 1:04 am

      Hi-
      Please ignore… I reinstalled everything- created new database and started over from the beginning and all seems to work now- LOTS of extra work but totally worth it!

      Thanks!

  24. Misty Lackie

    April 23, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Please provide the url to your blog so we can take a look at the search form.

  25. AV Homes

    June 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    That is absolutely and completely phenomenal! Thank you so much for that information. You rock!

  26. Houses in Palmdale

    August 12, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    You have no idea how much I wanted something like this. The MLS in my area leaves a lot to be desired.

    Thank you so much for the info.

  27. Garrigus Real Estate

    January 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Jeez, this business is changing so fast every day that its hard to work in the business AND keep up with the changes! 🙂

  28. Rancho Cucamonga Real Estate Agents

    April 20, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Too bad this isn't available anymore. Google killed their real estate side of their business model before RealShout could be fine-tuned and optimized. Is there an alternative anywhere other than IDX?

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