Around half of the Googlers in our Sydney headquarters are software engineers, working on some really cool things - Google Wave, App Engine, Google Docs, and of course, Google Maps.

Recently, some of us have been working on a particularly interesting project that combines Google Maps and search technology - we've been trying to work out if your search query in Google Maps means you're interested in having current real estate listings returned to you. It's nice to get to work on some 'search' engineering down here!

So here's what we've been cooking up - in the past, if you wanted to view real estate listings on Google Maps, your best bet was to select "Real Estate..." from the "More" menu at the top of the map.

Now, simply searching for "real estate" will return, well, real estate (try it)! You could also try "homes for sale sydney" or "homes for rent adelaide". Or while you're at it, check out "apartments for sale brisbane", or "homes for rent near perth". The idea is to make it really easy for you guys - you tell us what you want, and we get it back to you! Of course, we'll continue to work to return the best results for all your Google Maps queries, whether you're looking for local businesses, geographic features, or your perfect home.

We also wanted to tell you about the integration of real estate listings with Place Pages. Now clicking the "more info" link next to a listing takes you to a faster, easier-to-read page that gives you all of the information we have about a listing: photos, inspection times, videos, details, a Street View preview and nearby public transit information if available, allowing you to quickly find the listing you want and click through to the sources of the listing.

We hope you find these features improve your real estate search experience on Google Maps.