The Web has become a place where people go in search of not only useful or entertaining information but also goods and services that have real value only in the offline world, which is why real estate website development should now be regarded as a means of encouraging prospective clients to make their purchasing decisions.
Why invest in creating a real estate website?
The realtors’ aim has long been to get themselves in local newspapers and magazines by placing their classified ads there. However, everything is going digital now and at some point, it became clear that having a website can give extra possibilities for the growth and development of a real estate enterprise, too.
There are many channels, platforms, and websites on the Internet that your customers are going to and where your business can have a presence on. Consequently, cutting through the noise of the Internet is harder than ever now. It is extremely difficult to win people’s attention. For some of the real estate professionals, it is a convincing enough argument against establishing and supporting a website. But despite the fact that there are many different destinations for your current and prospective clients to go on the Web, it does not mean that you have to be present on all those platforms trying to make them notice you and thus getting lost in the digital space. Your own real estate website is, in turn, a place (and the only one) where you are not competing for attention with anyone. Unlike social networking websites, your own site is much more likely to contain no such distractor as your competitors’ banner ads. So, when there is a platform that you can use for your benefit exclusively, a good idea for you is to perceive it as your personal marketing engine.
1. Lead generation. Engaging customers and capturing potential leads on your website is what you can get help with in the first place. The aim here is to generate enough traffic to deliver a sufficient number of clients. For these results to be satisfying, the website has to be optimized and the most efficient ways of doing so will be discussed below.
2. Establishing your expertise. Real estate agents are trusted only when they are good at their reputation management. A website is a great platform that you will be able to have total control of. Chances are there will not always be all happy and satisfied clients. Yet, you should stay focused and keep track of all the reviews that go online. Build credibility by being honest and show your expertise while sharing custom content on your website, also consider starting a blog. Leverage your website to the fullest — testimonials, awards, and accolades are all good for the purpose of establishing and maintaining your reputation.
If you still feel suspicious about getting a website for helping buyers and sellers with their real estate needs, we can give you five more reasons to invest in a real estate website:
3. Brand awareness. Every real estate agent is a brand communicating a particular message to his or her target clientele. A website is thus not just a good-looking brochure or a profile page. Your website should be a reliable means for supporting that message with a quality, consistent design. Brand awareness eventually means that local home buyers and sellers know who you are. It is improved by carrying out brand awareness activities like:
- Making wise brand-related ad expenditures
- Offering appropriate information that intrigues the attention
- Connecting with audience members and cooperating with opinion leaders
4. Always up-to-date information. On your real estate website, users must naturally be provided with information on what property is being sold in the area, what is currently available on the market. It is real estate websites that offer excellent local content and coupled with decent search experience, it is bound to generate a lot of traffic.
5. Time-saving. The most important part of the realtors’ job is to close deals, which entails managing all the paperwork, traveling to properties with clients, guiding them through the process of staging and preparing their homes for sale, keeping in touch with them after the sale via email and the like. With a feature-rich, beautiful and lead-generating custom website, you can focus on these activities and carry out the main duties and responsibilities.
Basic requirements for making a real estate agent website
When determined to establish a website, it is high time for you to think over how to make people enjoy their experiences of interaction with it.
Three pillars of your real estate website in terms of its design and hosting are the following:
1. Strong SEO.
We have already mentioned that a real estate agent who is willing to prove his or her expertise should start a blog on their website. However, having a blog may benefit you even more than that. Eventually, it can help capture more leads.
Search engine optimization is addressed when your site or blog content is being improved to become more relevant and attractive to search engines. It is often a good idea to involve third-party SEO specialists who can formulate detailed recommendations on improving the visibility of your site in search engines via organic or algorithmic search results. Although the real estate market is dominated by giants like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com, you still have a chance of getting a high ranking in Google if you focus on local rankings adjusting your SEO strategy.
2. A smart domain name.
Choosing an effective domain name for your website is equally important. This decision is normally made once, so you’d better make no mistakes and manage to connect your enterprise to the market at the first attempt, so these are the tips to consider:
- Keep it short, professional, and consistent with your personal brand identity.
- Try using keywords connected with the real estate industry.
- Avoid using your own name unless your reputation is already well-established.
- Refrain from using acronyms or abbreviations.
- Ensure the spelling is not funky.
- Buy misspelled variations of your domain so that users were not redirected to other websites when attempting to reach you.
3. Intuitive navigation and responsive design.
Typically, a real estate website contains so much information that it may get difficult to navigate. Yet, a good user experience implies that people do not have to waste their time figuring out how to find their way around your website. It should rather resemble a life jacket whose existence one confirms during the safety instruction presentation but that is not looked at repeatedly to make sure it is in its place. Instead, one simply knows where to find the jacket when it is needed. So, ensure the proper functionality by providing the following on your site:
- A contact page
- An About Us page
- Users can get to any page from any page
- A good-looking, informative, and interactive menu
- An optimal viewing and interaction experience
Must-have features of a real estate website
Besides, there is a list of basic real estate site features that make up its backbone. These primary components required to build a real estate site comprise the following real estate website features list:
1. Multiple listing services access.
A good real estate agent website should connect users to MLS data. As local databases of properties for sale, MLSs allow sellers and property owners to have their property visible and accessible for multiple agents. MLS integration connects an agent’s website directly to the local MLS database. The drawback of this kind of integration is that the access is not exclusive, although the whole process is managed and configured in a simple and convenient manner. It is the Internet Data Exchange (IDX) that makes it possible to pull listing data from MLSs and integrate it into your website.
2. Live search.
Real estate property and rental searches have to give appropriate results. For that to happen, you have to provide users with a comprehensive set of search filters: listing type (buying, renting, or selling), price, home type, number of bedrooms, amenities, facilities, year of construction and more. A special tool will allow mapping out exact search boundaries to capture the neighborhood in which a user wants to find a property.
3. An adequate set of images for each real estate asset.
Though intuitive navigation and responsive design warrant good user experience to your website’s visitors, the success of a site is measured in how many deals are closed with its help. But first, future buyers or tenants have to get interested. This interest is stirred up by professionally-looking property images. Relevant and high-resolution images speak for themselves, so it is a good idea to set strict requirements as for photos’ size, format, and resolution on your platform.
4. Video or virtual excursions.
A tour inside a chosen home tells even more about a real estate asset than the most detailed and quality set of images. A video excursion is a great alternative but Augmented and Virtual Reality technologies, in their turn, can provide users with general but at the same time comprehensive information about the exterior and interior modeling.
To find a perfect place, a buyer has to communicate his or her requirements clearly while sellers and real estate agents have to adequately respond to these interrogations. Thus an inbuilt messaging tool should be convenient for all. It can be either a live chat, which is the fastest way to get some feedback, or a system of direct text, voice and video messaging for contacting property owners or realtors.
Real estate website advanced features
If basic features are a backbone that supports a strong, search-engine-friendly website that is easy to find on the Web and use; advanced features of a real estate web platform give extra options for the user experience improvement.
Detailed listing. Prospective tenants or buyers are eager to know as much as possible about the properties returned in search results. Thus, you have to ensure that there are such possibilities for the display of these details on your website. For example, breaking down and color-coding neighborhoods in the city and saying if they are bad, very bad, neutral, good or great gives a clearer idea of where the property is located. This feature makes it possible showing the results of collecting tons of information: demographics, crime rate, real estate medium price and more, while 15 years ago only realtors had access to this kind of information.
Calendar. Connecting a calendar tool to your real estate platform, you will let users check real estate agents’ availability and allow booking meetings to look over the property. In such a manner, property owners, realtors, and customers can access the calendar, view and edit details of events unless they are blocked from doing that. Besides, you can enable the synchronization of user-profiles with external sources like Google Calendar or Apple Calendar for added convenience.
Calculator. This feature offers a financial tool for calculating house affordability by considering criteria like annual household income, salary and other incomes (before tax), mortgage loan term, interest rate and more. Also, it is great when the difference between the cost of buying and renting a real estate asset is readily illustrated.
Steps of real estate web development
1. Ensure the necessary inventory. For your real estate website to be great, its structure has to be well-planned and -designed. So, from the very beginning, enumerate the basic and advanced features you would like to pack it with and therefore ease the problem. Then, try and formulate your purpose in developing a website, the main goals in doing so, and explore who your target audience is.
2. Choose a price range and assemble a development team. When your business and personal objectives are well-defined, make it clear what price range you expect the website development to fall in. With all that in mind, you are likely to get your money’s worth. Meanwhile, you can select a software development company to cooperate with. When the right team is found, you will most probably have your objectives slightly transformed. A strong partnership, the willingness to engage in a dialogue and exchange ideas are a key to ensuring better end results.
3. Wireframes, mockups, and prototypes. At this stage, your website’s structure is taking shape. Wireframing, mockup development that relies on these wireframes and your future website design prototyping are all good for creating a site that makes a good first impression. It takes planning to design a high-performance website, so your logo, the color scheme, images, and other user interface elements have to be arranged both sequentially and consistently on each page. Since users complete tasks in a certain order, make sure to organize elements in a way to reflect that order and help users navigate your content.
4. Coding. Decisions made during the preparation process must be transparent for and communicated among all those involved. Completion of all the preparatory steps provides the basis for successful project implementation. Once a technical specification is issued, Knowing what features are needed, the hired software developers will choose an appropriate tech stack. They can also take advantage of themes, APIs, modules and benefit from IDX, MLS, and SEO.
5. Quality assurance and review. All that was done previously has to be now reviewed by skilled quality assurance engineers. As a result, it is ensured that the real estate website is user-friendly and that it delivers a flawless experience to property owners, buyers, tenants, and realtors visiting it.
How much does a real estate website cost?
There cannot be any predetermined price for quite a number of parameters will influence the outcome. The cost of your real estate website development depends a lot on the scope of work and who is going to be involved in the project implementation. The hourly rate varies based on where software engineers and other employees live and how qualified they are. Let’s assume that an average hourly wage equals $30. Then, the total cost of a real estate website development can be calculated by aggregating the following components:
|Web development||250 hours||$7,500|
|UI/UX Design||150 hours||$4,500|
|Testing and Quality Assurance||120 hours||$3,600|
|Project Management (10-15% of the total budget)||-||$1,560|
However, you should keep in mind that the real estate website development has many different nuances and the total cost has to be further specified.
Today, every agent should consider real estate web development that may help support and promote his or her business development. With a custom website, it is getting easier to build trust and start closing as many commercial and residential real estate deals as never before meeting all the customers’ needs and wants.
When bringing together a team of high-skilled software engineers, you are multiplying your chances for success and getting a perfect website in the end. Contribute to other people’s happiness and give them a free hand in finding a perfect place to call home!
© 2019, Vilmate LLC
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