In the world of real estate, having a website is similar today to having a business card 20 years ago, it shows you are legit. Whether you are a real estate agent, broker or a real estate team, without a website you are not taken seriously.
Real Estate Website Design
All real estate websites obviously offer real estate services. There are many real estate web designs, but more importantly, when it comes to real estate websites, you should be looking at it differently. The web design itself may or may not be the single most important aspect. You should look at your real estate website as a cog in the wheel of your branding and lead generation. Which area is the most important to you should drive your expectation of the design and functionality.
Truth is, real estate websites (and their design), fall into four major categories:
The Brochure Style
Each of the above style of real estate websites serve a purpose (the All-In-One attempts to do all) and depending on your expectations and what you need to get out of your web presence should dictate which lane you should get it.
Lets provide some insight on the different types of real estate websites so we can speak intelligently on the pros and cons.
The most basic type of real estate website is the Brochure style. this type of website focuses more on branding than lead generation and is the least expensive to implement.
The Brochure Style of Real Estate Website
Today, to show you are in the business of real estate and to tell a little about yourself you need a website. People do their research on the web, you need to have at least some sort of a web presence. Don’t think that your potential client won’t type your name into Google to see what comes up. A “Brochure Style” of real estate website fills that need.
A Brochure style of website is usually going to be www.YourBusinessName.com and generally focus on you, the real estate professional; whether you are an agent, real estate brokerage or a team. This is where you have the ability to tell why a potential home buyer or home seller would would want to work with you. This is where you explain your value proposition.
On the Brochure style of agent website you should introduce yourself (or your brokerage), talk about your previous real estate accomplishments, explain your unique value proposition and display client testimonials.
Do you provide professional real estate photos?
Do you do print advertising?
Are you a discount real estate broker?
Do you use electronic lockboxes?
Do you have any REALTOR Designations?
Any modern website should also include basic contact information and social media links.
The SEO (search engine optimization) for this type of site should be focused on your actual name or your real estate brokerage or team name. Unfortunately, many of these types of websites may get crawled but not indexed. You should have a Google My Business (GMB) listing set up under the exact Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP). The strategy so if someone types your name into a search engine, your web presence comes up. You may also want to SEO the site for other terms like – top agent in “yourcity”.
The Pros and Cons of the Brochure Style of Website
These types of websites generally do not generate new business. I know you just said to yourself, “then why am I going to do it”? Keep in mind, a brochure website is being found because they are looking for YOU (or at least your real estate branding) on the web. If that is the case, they already know your name, they know you are in Real Estate, they are just getting some more information on you or ready to reach out.
Captive Real Estate Audience
Since you are being found when a potential buyer or seller is searching for your name (also known in SEO terms as a branded search), they have already been exposed to your brand. They may have seen one of your signs, been referred to you or even looking you up after they met you at a dinner party.
You need to keep that in mind as you write the copy for this type of real estate website. This is a captive audience that has hunted you down. Tell them about your brand. A brochure style of real estate website may only have three or four pages.
Here is an example of some pages you might find on a brochure style of website.
About Us – Tells your story in the real estate industry
Sellers Page – Speaks of why you are a great listing agent (or have awesome processes when listing a home) and what will happen when they list their property with you
Buyers Page – Speaks of why a potential homebuyer should work with you when looking for a home
Testimonials Page – Shows recent reviews by past buyers and sellers.
Specialty or Geography Page – This may be on the homepage, or could be a separate page altogether. This is where you show your expertise in certain geographical areas or real estate specialties such as REOs or first time homebuyers.
You should always have an easy way for the consumer to contact you on every page. Be sure to IMMEDIATELY get back with someone who contacts you from your website. I can’t stress that enough. If someone reaches out to you from the web and you don’t get back with them within five minutes, you have lost them forever.
The Lead Driven Style of Real Estate Website
The next type of Real Estate Website is the Lead Driven type. This type of website may not talk as much about you, but focus on a subdivision, real estate vertical or specific geographic area and the marketing services to get in front of those people. This type of website will generally have real estate SEO, PPC or Targeted Facebook Advertising to drive traffic to landing pages on site and ultimately increase your real estate business. The focus more on the marketing services as opposed to individual branding.
Lead driven real estate websites focus much more on lead generation than branding. The usually require some form of paid digital advertising.
In most instances, if the owner of the Lead Driven style of website is directly paying for traffic, they will implement a sign up wall to capture leads. Although a sign up wall will drive many away from your site , if the only purpose is to generate leads they are serving a valuable purpose.
The person finding this type of website is searching for homes for sale in: “subdivision” or; buy a house in “city” or; foreclosures in “area.” There are many options for these types of real estate websites, such as Commissions INC and Boomtown. to a certain extent, these two examples do fall under the “all in one” style, but they leave much of the customization for branding and SEO out. They get their traffic for leads directly from Google PPC.
The lead driven style of website has little focus on your branding, your messaging or organic ranking; they serve one purpose…to generate leads daily.
The All in One Style of Real Estate Website
Also known as “real estate suites”
The all in one style of real estate website attempts to merge the front face of your web presence to your lead generation and lead follow-up processes and provides some level of a CRM. This is the holy grail of real estate marketing experts, but it is hard to achieve. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages of the all-in-one real estate website.
On the Pro side, for one price you get a web presence, CRM, lead generation tools, training and support for your entire suite of real estate technology. Being that everything is provided by one vendor, you can also expect them to work fluidly together and someone else on the hook for integration and functionality of the system as a whole.
The Con of this approach is that you may not get the best of all pieces of functionality. Meaning some of the companies offering all in one real estate suites may focus more on the ease of add creation and CRM, but lack website customization and SEO options such as Kunversion, while others focus on a customizable website and deeper SEO options like Real Estate Webmasters, while still others like Sierra Interactive try to split the baby and even provide free Google PPC management.
As a general rule for the all in one real estate website option, you are generally renting your website and lead generation and followup technology tools. If you stop paying said real estate technology company…needless to say, you will no longer have access to all of your systems.
Digital Marketing Budget
How much should you spend on Digital Marketing for your business? What should your Digital Marketing Budget be? How Much of your marketing spend should be allocated to Digital Marketing?
The answer to how much should you spend on Digital Marketing relies on your business model, your value proposition, your margin and a variety of other unique factors. Although it is impossible to come up with your exact Digital Marketing Budget with a calculator, we have leveraged our almost two decades of experience to provide some idea of your Digital Marketing Spend.
Just fill answer the questions in the form to get a good idea of what you should spend every month on your Digital Marketing to be competitive on the web today.
Digital Marketing Budget Estimator
The Custom WordPress Real Estate Website
Many real estate agents/brokers/teams choose to build one website that serves both of the above purposes, and in the worst of instances, some even try to develop it themselves. With WordPress being a relatively inexpensive option and the platform already makes up over one-third of the websites in existence (yes 34% of all websites on the internet are WordPress, many in the real estate industry use WordPress. WordPress websites, if built correctly, can be the most SEO friendly type of web development.
Custom WordPress for Real Estate
There are some incredibly awesome custom, WordPress real estate websites out there — but there are more duds. This all comes down to not only the web developer that is building the site, but the vision, branding, and image of the real estate brand itself. Real estate websites are different than most custom WordPress sites as much of the content is automatically delivered by a RETS feed via IDX (the Internet Data Exchange). In the worst of custom WordPress sites for real estate, they focus on the listings and not on the messaging.
With the massive competition on the web in the real estate vertical, your website needs to have more than just your local real estate listings from all of the brokers in your area. In most real estate markets, Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com have that already sewed up. You need to bring something else to the table if you expect to compete with those behemoths of real estate search.
For most real estate practitioners, they expect a return on investment from their websites. Unfortunately for most, that never comes to fruition.
Pros of a Custom WordPress Site for Real Estate
There are MANY advantages of using a Custom WordPress Website for your real estate presence. Let’s say that you have an excellent vision that is exquisitely implemented by your web development team. You now have no limits on the options you can take to drive traffic to your site. Your strategy may be to organically compete by choosing an SEO Agency and focusing on SEO, you may opt for immediate gratification with Pay Per Click, or you might want to focus on content marketing and social media to drive traffic. The point is it’s totally up to you.
Please do not take the fact that it is totally up to you as a strict positive! Many real estate practitioners are not the perfect person to be attempting to compete on the web with Redfin, Remax, and Coldwell Banker. The smarter real estate agent or broker will hire a professional to strategize with and implement a holistic digital strategy.
The custom WordPress website for real estate can cost a little more upfront than some of the less expensive options, but the level of flexibility is dramatically better once the site is up and running. For most that take this route, you should have your digital marketing budget already in place befor the sites go live. To assess what your digital marketing budget should be, click HERE.
Cons of the WordPress Real Estate Website
Having your own WordPress website is not all sunshine and rainbows. You will generally pay a pro a small fee for monthly updates, maintenance and security, but if you are tech-savvy, you may be able to do that on your own or by your in house technology team.
The biggest challenge with your custom site is that you will be responsible for choosing the other pieces of technology that you will need to be competitive in the real estate industry. Much of what is included in the All-In-One style of sites, you will be vetting, purchasing, and integrating on your own.
This goes from the IDX vendor that you choose to:
Your CRM – possibly your most significant decision
and a million other things.
Which Type of Real Estate Website is Best?
Understanding the TYPES of real estate websites lets you make an educated decision and have a realistic expectation of the results.
The lest expensive style of real estate web design is the brochure site. If you are an agent, your real estate broker may provide that to you. If you are a real estate broker, your franchise may give you with this style of site (which you, in turn, can offer your agents). The critical thing to understand is not to expect much in the way of acquiring new business.
If you choose to build a Lead Driven style of site, you should ALSO have a Brochure site. You should link back and forth between the two. If someone finds your Brochure site, in telling them that you specialize in foreclosures, you should link to your Foreclosure website (anchored correctly) within that copy.
From your Lead Driven style of site, when you do speak about yourself, you can link to your Brochure site. It doesn’t need to be done that way, but Google will like it better, which means it will rank better.
The custom WordPress style may look to be the more attractive route, but if you are not willing to dig into the design and content, the site will most likely fail as a lead generation site. If you are not careful, it can fail miserably as a branding or brochure site too. In addition, don’t forget that you will need to integrate the other real estate tools such as IDX, CRM, and others.
Custom sites have the ability to bring something new and refreshing to the web, or to fail miserably.
Regardless of which style of real estate website you choose, you should think about what the goal is of the site. Is it branding? Is it lead generation? Is it both? Understand if you want a high level of customization, it will cost more. Don’t expect one style of website to do something else.
Looking for a Partner for YOUR Real Estate Marketing?
Because we are first a digital marketing agency, we can afford to build your custom real estate website little above our costs. Ourwebsite pricingis very aggressive, as many of our website customer become long term SEO clients.
We can put together a fully holistic strategy that leverages your internet marketing spend in the most efficient manner depending upon your budget. For a new agent or brokerage, we can start with a minimal but fully custom, website that we can build up over time. While building the website, we can jumpstart your internet marketing strategy by implementing Local SEO to start generating revenue and move more aggressively as the ROI begins to flow.
For more established real estate brokers and teams, we can build the most complex of real estate websites, while implementing your lead generation strategy online.
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