FSBO Company Connects Google Earth and Real Estate Listings
Real estate search is a good effort, but needs clearer instructions, more listings, and a better user experience.
A site called For Sale By Owner Center has published what they call the "first 'FSBO' real estate website that allows you to search real estate listings directly in the Google Earth." I tried it out, beginning on their download page. At time of writing, one needs to email the site to get access. I received a reply mail that contained a zipped KML file, a short set of instructions, and a solicitation for feedback.
The instructions read:
Download the attached KML file. Simply double click on it to open the network link. Start by zooming in to any area you wish to search our "for sale by owner" real estate listings.
My User Experience
Now, I might have returned to the download page for fuller instructions, but I had closed it while waiting for the email reply. So, getting real estate search results took some poking around.
- I downloaded the zip file
- Unzipped it
- Opened the KML file in Google Earth
- I looked at San Diego, CA
I did not know what to expect at this point, but saw no change. I sarted poking around, and opened up "Places", the bar on the left that had been collapsed from my last session. Under "Temporary Places", I found a link to ForSaleByOwnerCenter.com. I clicked it, and dialog floated up, reading
ForSaleByOwnerCenter.com ForSaleByOwnerCenter.com properties.
- I checked the box next to the link.
- I Flew To Atlanta, GA, a city that was listed.
As Google Earth flew across the United States, I saw several homes plotted in different cities. I had not seen this effect before, because I had Flown To San Diego before loading the FSBO KML, where there were no listings. Flying back to San Diego confirmed my suspicion; there were no listings in San Diego. Houses visible during flight to Atlanta
This seemed to perform a query, indicated by an animated icon on the sub-folder "Show all Homes". The animation stopped. I expanded the folder. The listings that appeared seemed unrelated to the zoomed in area. There were homes from Illinois, Florida, Minnesota, etc. Then I noticed that some of the homes did not have a "City, State" under their Street address. I began clicking on these, thinking that they were local. Each result seemed to come from a different state, including Kansas, Georgia, Texas and Ohio. Perhaps I was not understanding how to narrow down the search results?
If I were to rewrite the instructions to "For Sale by Owner Center Real Estate Search in Google Earth", it would read something like:
- Send an email to Jesse at forsalebyownercenter.com
- Download the zip file
- Unzip it
- Double-click it the KML file to open in Google Earth
- In Google Earth, click "Fly To"
- Type a "City, State" into the text bar and hit return
- Expand the Places pane in the left column, if necessary.
- Drill down to
- My Places
- Temporary Places
- Temporary Places
- My Places
- Check the box next to ForSaleByOwnerCenter.com
If there are listings within your current location view, these should appear over the map. If you see none, either the search is not working, or it returned no results. To test, perform the following steps:
- Check the box "Show All Homes" under place ForSaleByOwnerCenter.com
- Expand the "Show All Homes" list
- Click on one of the addresses.
A word balloon should appear over the map, containing the home listing. The leader or tail of the balloon should point somewhere offscreen. Click on the link in the balloon to open a Web listing for the home. Note the city and state of the listing, and Fly To it. In flight, you may see other listings.
Oh, and I would give the search sevice a shorter name...
In summary, I thank For Sale By Owner Center for making this search available, and would encourage them to clarify the instructions. I hope that they can also improve the user experience, as is possible within the current framework of Google Earth. I look forward to seeing more FSBO listings, and similar offerings from traditional realty companies or listing services.
Know of another real estate listing service that offers Google Earth search? Please post a comment.