Every real estate selling agent should have a website, but do you have the features that effectively gains your prospects’ trust, encourages buyers to get in touch and communicates everything about what you offer and how you do business? Is it easy to find information, navigate and use the tools you provide? If you’re not sure, then read on for top features that every real estate listing website should have to keep your business booming.
Make It About The Client
Don’t make your website all about you and how great you are. Make your real estate listing website about the clients – those you are going to be helping to buy and sell – because they will be the ones that decide to hire you or not. Not sure what this means? Before starting out, go speak to your friends and family members who aren’t in the real estate business. Go to Starbucks and offer to buy people a cup of coffee if they’ll answer a few questions for you. Then sit down and ask them what they would like to see in a real estate listing website. What features would they want? What information would they be interested in? In short, what would it take to get them to use your website over something like Zillow or Realtor.com? Then take those ideas and implement them as best you can.
IDX Search Technology
It may go without saying, especially with today’s savvy home buyer having had access to the MLS database for years to find homes, but an IDX search function on your site is pivotal to any real estate listing website. It makes it easy for buyers who find you online to conduct a search and gives your home sellers peace of mind that you have their home listed. The property search function should be smack dab at the top of your homepage where people can easily find it.
What to look for when vetting a vendor of such solutions? An intuitive location box that includes cities, neighborhoods, areas, MLS numbers, etc.; input sliders for details such as price range, amenities and home features to help buyers hone down their search; an attractive and user-friendly results list; comprehensive details on homes they select; interactive maps; map markers with statistical information for a selected city or neighborhood; information on recent home sales in the area; and a filter for different types of properties by transaction type (short sales, foreclosures, etc.). Of course, you also want to make sure you are able to highlight your current “featured” listings to let your seller’s know that their home will be the main focus on your real estate listing website.
Your value proposition, mission, vision and/or services
Many real estate listing agents don’t take full advantage of a comprehensive branding strategy. However, think about the hundreds of real estate agents and brokers who offer the same services. How do you stand out from the crowd? By creating a tight branding strategy. You can consult a marketing expert or determine this on your own. To start, determine what your unique offering is. Do you specialize in a particular area? Why? How are you different from your competition? What is your relationship style in working with clients? Have you had a lot of experience? Have you been quoted in news articles that would make them feel like you are indeed an expert? Remember this area should focus not just on you and your business, but why you are different and how that will help them save money, find a home faster, or have an overall better experience.
Clients want to know that you can deliver on your services, and the best way to share that with them is through testimonials posted to your real estate listing website. Text is ok, but video is even better. If you can get your client to shoot a quick video while they are at the closing table or in front of their new home, it will provide much more realism. Ask your clients not to talk about how great you are – instead, ask them to explain how they benefited by using your services. Give the future viewer something to connect with and you will come out way ahead.
A real estate blog is one of the best ways to showcase your expertise in selling homes to a prospective client, but many entrepreneurs, not just real estate professionals, absolutely detest writing. If it’s not your strongpoint, employ the help of an intern or freelance writer. Sites like odesk.com and elance.com provide a wide range of freelance writers, many offering their services at a reasonable price, that you can easily vet, receive samples from and communicate with in order to find and work with just the right professional. You could even try hiring a local high school or college student who is studying journalism who actually knows about the areas and may be able to provide a different perspective, take some local photos, or even some videos of the local neighborhoods, businesses, and landmarks. Topics can include features or new developments in the areas and neighborhoods you focus on, local school updates and news, your views on real estate news and so much more. Try to vary your topics and pre-plan timely topics with a schedule. You can also write off the cuff when a particular topic moves you! Be forewarned – You can be honest and have opinions, but try to keep your posts neutral and more informative.
If you use Facebook and Twitter, among others, to keep up with clients, include the feed of posts and tweets on your homepage. Your web developer can help connect your social media outlets to your website or you can look for plugins that provide one-click solutions to easily embed them. Of course if you are going to link to your social media, make sure you are actually updating your social media. Nothing says “no business” like a dead social media feed (or blog) that hasn’t been updated in months.
An easy to use layout and navigation system
Try not to get too creative with your website’s structure. Pages to include: Homepage, About, Services, Local Resources, Blog and Contact. As far as the look and feel, simple, clean and easy win every time. Make sure to have solid calls to action and obviously good real estate lead capture tools in place.
Remember that time is precious
If you aren’t a website designer and have no desire to become one, hire someone to design a site for you. If you aren’t going to take the time to provide updated content, then hire someone to do it for you. Don’t waste your time on doing something that you don’t have a passion for and instead hire someone to do it for you. When it comes to real estate listing websites, content is king and a necessity, not an option.
By employing these basic tips, you can feel confident that your real estate listing website is working for you, even when you’re not.