If you’re looking to build a real estate website, you’ve come to the right place. That’s because today, we’re going to be sharing everything you need to know to build a successful website that adds value to your business and helps to drive a return on investment and improvements to your bottom line.
Learning how to build a real estate website can be confusing, especially because new technologies are constantly making their presence felt and changing the way that we approach business. For example, blockchain is increasingly being used in real estate to create an interoperable database of properties, so don’t be surprised if you start to see tokenization and other blockchain features being discussed in meeting rooms when you’re working on real estate projects.
The best real estate agent websites 2019 all have one thing in common: they mix new technological approaches with good design and well-crafted web copy. Getting each of these factors just right will help you to create the kind of website that turns casual visitors into paying customers for life.
Learn from the best: The top five best real estate websites
Zillow's website is short, simply designed and right to the point, with an easy to navigate search bar front and centre that's almost reminiscent of Google. Below that, it has calls to action that clearly spell out the three main services that they offer: Buy a home, sell a home or rent a home. One of the most notable features of Zillow's website is its Zestimates, which are designed to give people a rough idea of how much any given home might be worth.
Realtor's website also features a big search bar right in the middle of the home page, but from there they place much more emphasis on their content, which focus mostly on recent trends in the real estate industry. They'll also hook you up with home loan providers and hook you up with information on nearby schools and whether pets are allowed at any given property in their database.
As the largest real estate portal in the United Kingdom, Rightmove has solidified its position as one of the major players in the industry. They too go with a search bar, hitting visitors with their slogan of "find your happy". They use calls to action for people to sign up for property alerts, and they also have a pretty impressive selection of extra tools you can take advantage of if you sign up to their website and create an account. It’s a definite reminder of the importance of personalisation.
Trulia is a perfect example of a broker site which sits between buyers and sellers to hook them up with each other. One of its distinctive features is the way that users can browse different neighbourhoods to see highlights and to get a feel for what the market is like in the area. It's particularly interesting that their major listing categories, at least on the home page, are "Safe Neighbourhoods", "New Listings" and "Fixer Upper Homes".
Redfin feels a little more like working with an actual real estate agent because of its more premium feel, and its low listing fees means that it has plenty of properties available in its database. It’s perhaps not as well suited to making sales to the general public, but it knows its target audience and it goes out of its way to cater to it. They do a good job of it, too.
How to choose a successful real estate business model
If you want to learn from the best, you also need to get a feel for which real estate business model those companies are using. Different models have different advantages in different situations, so getting to know them first and then building your website around that is vital if you want your site to be successful.
Brokerage & consultancy
Brokerages and consultancies go hand in hand, and many businesses offer both services. A broker typically acts as a go between for buyers and sellers, facilitating deals and taking a commission on any deals that are made. Consultants tend to work for an hourly rate and are tasked with carrying out specific transactions on behalf of an individual or a company. Both models have their place, but you’ll want to put some thought in first to determine whether you want to specialise in one form or the other or whether you want to offer a hybrid of both.
MLS (Multiple listings service)
A multiple listings service is basically a set of tools that real estate companies use to manage their portfolios. Using an MLS will allow you to more widely share information about properties with other third-parties who might be representing potential purchasers. It essentially helps you to expand your reach, ultimately bringing in more clients and more money.
Features of a successful real estate website
Different real estate websites have different features, and it’s important to make sure that your site ticks as many of the boxes as possible to give you the best possible chance of success. Here are just a few of the features that you’ll want to look out for.
The way that your website looks and feels will have a huge impact on the way that visitors perceive both your website and your company. Each of the top performing sites in the industry look beautiful and make it a pleasure to browse their listings and to look at properties. It doesn’t take a genius to know that if your website looks bad, no one is going to buy from you.
Data exchange (IDX) search
An IDX is an internet data exchange, a piece of software that allows you to access information from elsewhere and to display it on your website. If you’re running a multiple listing service (MLS), it’ll be the IDX that allows you to access the data. Some of the leading IDX providers include IDX Broker, dsIDXpress, Ihomefinder and Showcase IDX, all of which will integrate with WordPress. Shop around a little until you find the best piece of software for you.
We’ve seen neighbourhood pages in action on most of the top performing real estate websites we’ve looked at, and there’s a reason for that. By creating different pages for different areas in the neighbourhood, you cater to search engines and human visitors alike by providing something above and beyond what your competitors are able to bring to the table.
In today’s interconnected era, it almost goes without saying that your website needs to display seamlessly no matter which device it’s viewed from. Still, it’s important to make sure that you don’t overlook it because if you don’t get it right, you’re going to find yourself wondering why people are visiting your site but not taking any action.
Quality content is another no-brainer when you’re trying to cater to both human visitors and search engines. Here, we’re talking about everything from realtor information and testimonials to high quality photos, downloadable ebooks, tutorial videos, a multi-faceted blog and more. In this day and age, the content that people consume helps to determine who they buy from. By creating quality content, you make sure that they want to buy from you.
If people can’t navigate around your website and find the information that they’re looking for, they’re quickly going to leave and look elsewhere. Navigation is an important part of user experience, and working with a user experience specialist can be a great way to make sure that your website’s navigation is as intuitive and as easy to use as possible. If in doubt, consider reaching out to third parties and getting them to test for you.
Contact the owner or realtor
In marketing, there’s a concept known as a call to action, which is when you basically tell people what to do next, such as “buy now”, “sign up to our mailing list” or “click here for more”. Real estate websites are no different, and the most common call to action is for people to contact the owner or realtor. This call-to-action may differ in other areas of your site, but it should be plastered all over your product listings if you’re hoping to convert visitors into customers.
The bottom line
By now, you should have a good idea of what you need to know if you want to build a successful real estate website, but there’s plenty of other factors that also need to go into your decision. For example, you need to decide upon a budget and find a reputable supplier who can work within it.
The good news is that what you’ve learned today will get you off to a good start, and with just a little bit of work and research on your part, it’s not too difficult to find the perfect partner. And of course, if you’re on the market for a real estate website developer then be sure to get in touch with us here at Zfort Group. We look forward to hearing from you!