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Google Ventures Further Into Real Estate, and Other Inman Connect News

By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

During a session yesterday morning at the 2010 Inman Real Estate Connect conference in New York, Inman News founder and publisher Brad Inman pressed Sam Sebastian, Google’s director of local and business-to-business markets, about the search engine’s plans to buy Trulia. Sebastian would neither confirm nor deny, but did elaborate that Google is actively looking to acquire one to two small technology companies a month.*

Corporate M&A activity aside, lots of innovative real estate ideas and tactics were discussed at the event. A majority of the 2,000 practitioners and techies in attendance agree that 2009 forced them to do business differently and rethink their plans.

Some tech experts, such as New York Times Editor Sam Grobart, believe tablet PCs are the wave of the future. He noted that Bill Gates made this prediction in 2001, but expects that 2010 will actually be the year they take off with Apple’s long-awaited but yet-to-be-confirmed version of the handheld computer (which would probably irk Gates to no end).

In the coming months, watch out for more applications to integrate social media. Example of this include PegShot, which allows you to upload photos in real time while tagging information about location, and Nabewise.com, which gives users detailed information about neighborhoods.

The dire market has forced practitioners to think differently and drastically cut costs—Jonathan Kauffmann, principal broker/owner of Nest Realty, said his firm has scaled back in office space and now uses virtual assistants.

Also, Ken Baris, president of Jordan Baris REALTORS explained that his office hosted several property tax events in 2009, in which his associates helped their clients lower the amount they owed by as much as 20 percent. He also cultivated a deal with his local Lexus dealership to become the official car of his business. His associates receive a discount on the luxury cars and the dealership sends leads over to the office.

More insights from Inman Connect to come.

*This blog entry has been corrected from the original posting.  Google is looking to acquire one to two companies, not specifically real estate technology companies.

Brian Summerfield

Brian Summerfield is Manager of Business Development and Outreach for NAR Commercial and Global Services. He can be reached at bsummerfield@realtors.org.

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Comments
  1. Nabewise seems to be a great idea. I hope they build on that website to be resourceful to more then just New York and San Fran.

    - Tony Nguyen

  2. jdhomes

    I was at the conference and listened to the interview and Sam Sebastian did NOT say “We’re actively looking to acquire one to two small real estate companies a month.”. Take out the words ‘real estate’ and the quote would be what he actually said…but then I guess you wouldn’t have anything to write about.

  3. Inman News has posted video from the conference.

    http://www.inman.com/news/2010/01/20/google-rpr-and-future

    Here’s the relevant section of Sam Sebastian’s conversation with Brad Inman:

    Sam Sebastian: I can’t speculate on acquisitions, but, we’ll probably acquire and we have in the last 18 months, one to two companies a month. So we’re always looking to acquire small, nimble kind of tech focused companies in big spaces that scale. But on Trulia I can’t speculate on that particular acquisition or deal or perspective on it.

    Brad Inman: Have you bought any vertically focused companies like in trucking, or travel?

    Sebastian: I think we clearly — with the exception of, like YouTube I think was a pretty focused effort to get into a huge space at the time, video, and I think it’s paying off or has paid off — but for the most part our acquisitions and our strategies focus on big, horizontal scale, of big problems were trying to solve. So potentially the AdMob acquisition if that goes through, mobile advertising, a big space. Video was a huge effort. Social, et cetera.

    If you just look back at our history I don’t think we’ve done a bunch of very vertically focused acquisitions, its much more at scale, horizontal, and things you could plug into broader efforts.

  4. It wasn’t so much what Sam Sebastian said. It’s what he didn’t choose to say. He could have denied that Google was going to expand their presence in the real estate space. But he didn’t. Specifically, he said he couldn’t comment on that question.

    It appears that Google is poised to, at the very least, acquire an existing real estate portal so it can further monetize real estate leads. It already, of course, sells pay per click, etc. Anything beyond that would be purely speculative. I personally didn’t infer anything about acquiring real estate companies.

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