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

 


MLS hotlist slideshow widget

The new RealBird Map-based MLS Search service has a pretty neat, new feature, which enables real estate agents and brokers to create widgets for their MLS hotlists. A hotlist can be matching IDX listings of any search criteria configured to provide market snapshots or even for farming purposes. It can be a service to track activities in a particular geographic area or a niche search such as luxury homes or budget lands. The RealBird service provides many ways to create eye-catching widgets for MLS hotlists to acquire new visitors for your IDX search. These widgets can be distributed via emails, blogs, social networks and even via banner ad networks. The following tutorial walks you through the steps of creating a slideshow widget for the most recently listed properties withing a search criteria and market area:

MLS Hotlist Slidehow Widget

For the sake of this example, let's configure an MLS hotlist slideshow widget for luxury homes in Saratoga, CA using Rona Arjomand's live service. To keep the interest level high, while walking through the setup steps, I included the end result first. The slideshow below rotates the matching properties' photos using the a shuffle effect but many more effects are available for you to chose from. Hovering the mouse over the image reveals the brief characteristics of the property such as list price, bedrooms, bathsrooms and address if available. Clicking on the photo will open the private labeled RealBird Map-based MLS Search service and  will zoom to the subject property. The Map-based Search can be configured to provide a lead capture email form for more information or to redirect to even more details provided by your 3rd party IDX service.

The following are the setup steps:

1) Start your own RealBird Map-based MLS Search service


2) Jump to your desired location (use the location entry, panning and zooming tools)


3) Set the search criteria and click "Search"


4) Click the "Just listed" button, then click the raw RSS feed link, which will open another browser window. Copy that RSS Url from the address bar



5) Login to your RealBird member area, visit the "Widgets" pages and select "MLS Search". Select the "MLS Photo Slideshow" tab and paste the RSS Url you copied in step 4


6) Select the desired slideshow size and transition effect from the drop down list. The preview updates as soon as you click the "Preview and get code" button. Finally, copy the generated code from this page and paste it into your website or blog.

     

Live examples:

  1. Tim Wade embedded two MLS hotlist slideshow widgets on the left sidebar of the website showing recently listed Single Family and Condos respectively.
  2. Dave Roberts demonstrates it on his ActiveRain blog embedding a "Windsor bargain homes" hotlist slideshow

-- Zoltan Szendro
RealBird.com


Map-based MLS Search 2.0

Map-based MLS Search 2.0 Introducing the RealBird Map-based MLS Search 2.0

It's been a while since our last major update of the RealBird Map-based MLS Search service. I am pleased to announce that the new version is now available for real estate agents and brokers in our current MLS coverage areas. (More MLS coverage is added ongoing)

There are many, many new features and novel benefits of this new release. I am going to post tutorials on a regular basis of concepts and techniques about how to best utilize these features. At this time, let me  emphasize a unique marketing concept, which enables real estate agents to reach out for home buyers beyond their website, via syndicated featured listings, viral marketing and social networks.

The problem

Your IDX solution is only as good as the level of traffic you receive on your website. Unless you have sufficient traffic coming to your site, the most advanced technology locked up on your site will not bring you business, simply because nobody knows about the value it provides. One of the most powerful real estate marketing techniques is blogging and not just because you can show off your expertise and niche while building brand and trust (the content), but for being a technology solution which reaches out for buyers and pulls them back to your online presence, your blog or website, where you can provide them with additional services (the reach). Since blogs are syndicated by default, expressed via machine readable RSS and loved by search engines, your content (and online business identity) can go a really long way to reach consumers by feed readers, aggregators, fellow bloggers sharing and tracking back your content and most importantly by search engines. In short: you "push" your information via blogs to meaningful destinations where consumers search and research and "pull" them back to your website for more. This is very powerful, no question about it.

Following this marketing concept established by real estate blogs, we decided to port the technique to single property websites:

The solution

For the first time in the industry, the RealBird Listing Publisher enables you to create Single Property Websites with Map-based MLS Search embedded for instant, live showcase of nearby for sale properties.  Take the following scenario for example:

  1. You create a single property website with RealBird and embed the Map-based MLS Search application
  2. Your listing site is automatically syndicated to Google Base, Zillow, Trulia, Geebo, Oodle, Vast and more and you can easily post it to Craigslist, Kijiji and Backpage for even more traffic
  3. A home buyer finds your featured listing on any of those highly popular portals
  4. The home buyer clicks thru to visit your RealBird single property website
  5. If your featured listing is not a perfect match, the home buyer is provided with an instant option to see similar for sale properties without ever leaving your site. In other words, you capture a portion of the traffic of home buyers from major portals. That portion can be huge relative to your regular website traffic.

Your IDX search solution (the home buyer lead capturing tool) is pushed one click closer to high profile destinations, to portals where most of the online home buyers start their search. Similar to blogging, the RealBird Listing Publisher pushes your information to 3rd party sites with high consumer traffic (portals and search engines) and "pulls" home buyers back to your full IDX solution.

Since the RealBird Listing Publisher also allows you to manage and promote your pending and sold inventory, listings sites which are already indexed by major search engines will continue to bring cumulative traffic and leads to your IDX solutions via your single property websites even after your own listing is sold !

The Listing Publisher is available for agents and brokers in the US, nationwide. For the embedded MLS Search option, please check the coverage on RealBird .com (You can also request coverage there. We'll do our best to implement new MLSs as soon as possible, based on user demand)

Below are a few examples of live single property websites with the Map-based Search integrated:

Stay tuned for the upcoming tutorials on other new features such the visually stunning MLS Hotlist widgets.


-- Zoltan Szendro

RealBird.com