This is EXACTLY what we've been talking about regarding the monetization potential for maps and local search.
It's a map-based local (real estate) search site with advertising. Redfin is only available in Seattle, but it is noteworthy for many reasons.
First, it offers better resolution than what's otherwise available online via satellite mapping. While HousingMaps uses Craigslist data, this has complete MLS data (for Seattle). It also features lots of internal and external photographs, detailed property descriptions and personalization features.
Google and Yahoo! are now permitting (via an API) third parties to layer data on top of their maps (a la HousingMaps). Yahoo! insists upon hosting the maps, whereas Google will allow third-party developers to put the maps on their own sites.
You can see it coming: Someone is going to potentially create a Redfin nationally with Google Maps before Google. For its part, Yahoo! should integrate maps into its real estate vertical.
The folks that can tackle this on a national scale will create an enormously powerful (and lucrative) vertical. Portals, search engines, real estate verticals (e.g., HomeGain) and, especially, newspapers take note.
Print real-estate classifieds were worth $4.2 billion in 2004, according to the NAA. As sites like Redfin develop across the country and more consumers use the Internet for home buying, that offline ad revenue is increasingly under pressure, which is why Classified Ventures bought HomeGain.
Newspapers must develop this type of dynamic (Redfin) functionality for their branded sites or risk losing consumers — and eventually advertisers — to others online, including their own verticals.