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Real estate easier to find in Google Maps

Homes for sale or rent in a given area can now be found without a specific query in Google Maps after Google added a "real estate" check-box option for Maps searches.

It's now easier to find unaffordable real estate in San Francisco's Mission District through Google Maps. Google

Another day, another improvement to Google Maps that increases time spent on the site.

A few days after sending shock waves throughout the portable navigation industry, Google's back adding features to Google Maps that will once again draw the attention of the real-estate industry. Google Maps has been showing real estate listings since this summer, but the company added a few tweaks Thursday designed to make it easier to search for a new home with Google.

If you're looking at a particular slice of the world through Google Maps, you now have the option to select "Real Estate" from a drop-down box in the "More..." section on the top of the map. And for those unable to afford real estate in San Francisco--or unwilling to pay the shockingly high prices offered in this town--Google Maps also now offers rental listings.

Google has always taken pride in the short amount of time users spend on its site, emphasizing that its goal is to get you the information you need as quickly as possible and get you on your way to that destination. But with features like these in Google Maps, you can spend almost the entire home-search process on Google, only clicking through to the real-estate company's page, once you've found the four or five places that pass muster.

It's possible that makes for a better search experience, but it also increases the amount of time spent within Google's domain. Advertisers like that.