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Google tweaks real estate listings on Google Maps

When Google makes a move in the real estate space, everyone watches for clues that might signal the sleeping giant is hungry for a bigger piece of the real estate pie.

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Google drives a lot of Web traffic to real estate sites everyday, including ones based in New York City, pictured here.

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LOS ANGELES - Google Inc. may crush all other Internet search portals, yet when it comes to real estate listings, its often less of a destination than a pit stop. But will that change?

The Internet search behemoth drives a ton of Web traffic to real estate sites everyday. Still, Google hasn't made a major play for domination in the online property search market, unlike sites such as Zillow.com, Trulia.com and Yahoo Real Estate.

So when Google makes a move in the real estate space, everyone watches for clues that might signal the sleeping giant is hungry for a bigger piece of the real estate pie. Such a move came about last week, when Google decided to spruce up its popular Google Maps page to highlight its real estate search tools and also began making searches for home listings available in Australia and New Zealand.

In the short term, the move will boost traffic to other real estate Web sites, figures Bill Tancer, general manager of research for Hitwise, an Internet tracking firm. But long-term, could be a different story.

"It's a competitive threat," Tancer suggests.

Established online listing hubs like Trulia and Zillow aren't quaking in their boots, yet. And they don't appear to have any reason to, according to Google spokeswoman Elaine Filadelfo.

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