The Australian division of internet search giant Google yesterday introduced real estate listings on Google Maps in a move that is set to shake-up the online listing sector.

Google product manager Andrew Foster wrote in a company blog post that users can enter a search that includes the words “real estate” and a suburb, and can then search through real estate listings marked on the map.

“This also means you can perform a search and see all the properties for sale close to, for example, a local school you’re interested in your kids attending. You can click on each marker and each small circle to get more detailed information about the property, including the listing agent’s website and contact details.”

“It’s also easy to refine your search further by criteria like bedrooms, bathrooms, garaging and price. And if you decide that Seaforth is more your speed, you can pan the map to another area entirely to see the listings there, and the map will automatically update, without typing anything new.”

The move could pose a challenge to the two largest online real-estate portals in Australia, Realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au.

Meanwhile Business2.com.au‘s editor Peter Ricci writes:

Google’s first foray into the highly competitive world of online real estate already has the industry in a spin.

Currently there are a number of listings driven from Homehound, Harcourts and other property groups, although the big portals Domain and Realestate.com.au have yet to send their listings through the free service. The reason for this seems to be that they do not want to create a competitor with the pedigree of Google — but if the take-up is significant they may be left with no choice.

It will be interesting to see how Realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au play with Google with this new product. In most major markets across the globe it is free for agents to list their vendors properties on portals such as zillow.com, however in Australia agents pay fees ranging from $400-$2000 a month, netting these portals tens of millions of dollars in subscription revenues. On top of this portals also take fees from 3rd party advertisers such as banks and building societies as well as selling sold data back to real estate agents and consumers.

Google Real Estate is a solid first step and with Google’s already impressive mapping tool, consumers now have property listings to go alongside some great research tools. Judging by some of the comments on Business2.com.au (technology website for real estate agents in Australia and New Zealand) it has already won the majority of agents over.