Google Maps now shows UK homes for sale

Just announced on Google's blog, Google Maps now shows hundreds of thousands of UK property listings just like it does in the US.

Data is sourced by listing syndication providers and is provided via Google Base, again just like in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. 

Interestingly enough we have already been providing the RealBird Map-based Property Search for the UK for a few months, using the same data from Google Base :) Below is an example, courtesy of Graham Phelps of GR Phelps Limited

UK, US and Canadian agents and brokers can provide a private labeled, ultra fast and flexible map-based search on their websites and blogs for their visitors via the RealBird Property Search service. 

All leads our forwarded to the RealBird member agent.

You can learn more about the service and register at RealBird.com


Google Earth API integrated with the RealBird property websites

More and more advanced desktop technologies are being ported to the browser platform and ultimately the barrier between the two will disappear. RIA (Rich Internet Application) frameworks like Flash and Silverlight, online application platforms, like Facebook and OpenSocial and enabling technologies like AJAX and Google Gear started to deliver both the smooth transition between the online and offline environment - i.e. applications can work both connected to and disconnected of the Net - and improvements in speed, performance and user experience. 

Google released an update of the mapping API in June, and the Maps API now includes support for browser based 3D Google Earth maps. This is a product which was even amazing as a desktop application when it was first introduced by Keyhole a few years ago and now the core functionality is ported to the browser. While the Microsoft Virtual Earth technology had similar browser-based, 3D maps for a while, due to the popularity of Google Earth and the KML standard, Google's move is quite significant. This is their first release and it is plug-in based, i.e., the user has to download a small browser extension before this feature is available for them. The current Google Earth API features seem to focus on core navigation and KML integration. One can of course expect, that eventually all of the Google "virtual world" products (Maps, the 3D Google Earth, their recently acquire Lively virtual world platform, Google Street View etc.) will all merge. Imagine being able to start with Google Earth and once zoomed into the street level, being able to smoothly switch to Street View which could show Google ScetchUp architectures and Lively virtual world content. I am not sure how far it is but it's coming within a year or two for sure.

The property websites created with RealBird now provide embedded Google Earth. The feature requires a plug-in to be downloaded and installed by your visitors, but it is designed in a way, that it is transparent to all of those users who do not have it yet installed or do not wish to download the plug-in.

For an example, see Ryan Jenkins listing below.Click the screenshot to see it live.

Google Earth on RealBird

-- Zoltan Szendro
RealBird.com

 


Street View API released - 28 hours later we are online

Google finally released the Street View API  yesterday. It is pretty neat, although it came short of my expectation of allowing 3rd parties to add hotspots and flash media into the Panorama itself. Maybe with their next release. Nevertheless, the API is clean and powerful and even allows animation controlled from Javascript. We've been promoting Street Views embedding into single property websites and blogs for real estate estate neighborhood presentations, but from now on, the API eliminates the need for the manual tasks.

Hopefully, Google will speed up the addition of new cities. Through the new API implementation, new coverage will be automatically added to the RealBird listing websites, even if coverage is currently unavailable.

This is indeed a great, great feature for real estate. I bet, many new applications will pop-up now that the API is available. Check out the RealBird examples below to see how powerful this new neighborhood tool is when integrated into single property websites.

Denver, CO auction - check out the bargain alert also !

Denver home for sale

Boise, ID single family home

Boise, ID home for sale

-- Zoltan Szendro

RealBird.com


Google Street View - amazing neighborhood virtual tours

We could not wait until Google provides access to the amazing Steet View imagery via their Google Maps API, so we went ahead and for the first time in the industry, we made Google Street Views available for RealBird members with a very simple manual embedding process.

As many of you already know, Google started to take 360° panoramic photographs of streets in 2007, starting with major metropolitan areas. Many in the real estate blogging sphere covered Google's product release and most of them including me found it an amazing and a very valuable tool for real estate virtual presentations. Slide-shows and interior panoramas provide virtual walk-through of the house; maps and aerial photos give great information about things in the vicinity including buildings, schools, points of interest, roads and more and now, finally, with Google Street View, home buyers from remote locations can "walk around" in the neighborhood, virtually, without ever leaving their own place. From interior virtual tours through neighborhood walk-thrus to bird's eye views, finally you can provide virtual presentation for all aspects of your property.

While Google still does not provide API access to this feature (i.e. enabling 3rd parties like us to automatically use this imagery), they quietly released a feature in December, which allows you to embed the interactive Street View  widget into your website and blog. And now with RealBird's capability of handling any kind of embeddable widgets, you can use the Street View on your single property websites built with RealBird Listing Publisher.

How to add Google Street View to your RealBird single property website

Let's see a live example for demonstration, then I will show the simple steps it actually take to do it for your own listings for free.

Click the image below, then on the property website, click "Street View".

Amazing, don't you think?

OK, so  here  are the  steps for setting up a single property website like this. (You  will need to have a free RealBird account)

See if Street View is available for your location

Go to http://maps.google.com, type in the address and see if the Street View button appears on the top right. If Street View is available, drag the little yellow icon to the location where you want your viewpoint to be set . The streets with "Street View"  capability will be highlighted once you click the "Street View"  button.  Drag the person-icon to a location on one of the highlighted streets. As you will see it in the next step, the actual, current Street View will be provided as widget, not your initial location. In other words, fine tune the view of the location before you continue to the next step.

See if Street View is available for your location

Grab the code

Click the "Link to this page" link above the map on the right.

Link to this page option

The second text box contains the default iframe code, which you can copy and paste just like that. You can further customize the widget. Click the link: "Customize and preview embedded map"

Step 3 - Customize code

There is another feature, which can be very useful, but is not obvious as an option on the configuration screen. In some design layouts, you may want to have a full bleed 100% width for the widget. Just take the code Google provides and replace the width="xyz" with width="100%". The Street View widget's width will automatically scale to whatever design you embed it into.

Embed the widget into RealBird single property website

Login on RealBird (or get a free account in a few seconds).

RealBird

Add a new listing or edit an existing one. On the listing editor page, click the Embedded Media tab (it can be used for any widgets: video, slideshow, audio, iframe, in this case we are going to embed the Street View into a listing website)

Post Street View on your RealBird site

Enter "Street View" in the "Tab text" field and paste the embed code into the large text box. "Publish" or "Save as draft" and it's done.

~~~ Easy, elegant and absolutely cool presentation. ~~~

I believe, this is a must have widget for any online listing presentation if Google has coverage for your area. While these manual steps will not be necessary once the Google Maps API gives access to it, but until then, this feature on your RealBird sites can be a great marketing vehicle for virtual presentations and to separate your listings and yourself from the crowd.

-- Zoltan Szendro
RealBird.com

 


Sold Listings Map widget released

Based on the popularity of the RealBird Featured Listings Map widget (for showing your active listings on an embeddable map), we have released a similar tool for your sold listings. Showing off your sold listings on your websites and blogs are important to encourage seller prospects to trust their listing on you. Showing them your sold listing portfolio will ensure them that you can actually deliver on your promise of selling their listings.

The Sold Listings Map widget is a powerful visual presentation of this marketing concept. See the example below showing the sold listings of Roland and Linda Hauhe on this widget


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Rather than deleting your listings published via RealBird after they are sold, you can now update them with sold as the listing status and automatically show them via this new widget. You can of course enter sold listings directly by simple setting the listing status to sold, rather than active while creating the RealBird property website. Make sure, that you use the Publish feature for saving the listing. Sold listings are not syndicated to 3rd party classified sites, but setting the sold property site published will enable it on your new Sold Listings Map widget.

The widget can be scaled for any size via the configuration tool and can make a great sidebar widget on your blog or ActiveRain or a full screen map on your website or your blog post.

Stay tuned, some major updates are coming soon...

-- Zoltan Szendro

RealBird.com

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