The process for building a website is not for everyone; a real estate website can vary quite substantially between a simple approach to a much more complicated real estate online presence. Because there are so many moving factors in the real estate online space there have been quite a few services that do all the heavy lifting for you, for a fee.
In this series we’re going to be diving into the details of what goes into a real estate website and what questions you should be asking in whatever choice you make… weather it’s choosing a service or building your own real estate website.
The easiest approach to building an online presence is to just pay a company to provide it for you. There are numerous companies online who specialize in real estate website hosting and more then likely they’ve got all your needs covered.
With very limited development skills you can be up and running fairly quickly for a monthly fee. Provided you don’t mind committing to another company for the next few years this might be a good path for you. We strongly advise you, if you have the option, to use the service but make sure you can use your own custom domain name vs using company X’s subdomain or sub directory installation. Confused? Here is an example.
Joe Brown wants to use company X to host his real estate website, he signs up and he doesn’t use his custom domain name (joebrownrealestate.com) but just uses company X’s subdomain (joebrown.companyx.com) . Three years later Joe decides he no longer likes the company or they’ve closed shop whatever the reason and decides to leave. The problem for Joe is that his domain joebrown.companyx.com no longer exists, all of his old clients, his search engine results, his business cards are now pointing at a website that no longer exists.
Content Management Systems & Themes
There are quite a few content management systems in the world, the biggest one of them is WordPress. With over 22% of all new websites using WordPress, it’s a great platform to build your real estate website. WordPress offers over 30,000 plugins, thousands of themes, and an amazing community around the world who can help you building your real estate website.
If you’ve made a choice of using WordPress as your platform, the first place to look for real estate themes would be a market place. There are a few companies who are selling real estate specific themes as well but a marketplace is typically a great place to start.
We recommend ThemeForest as it’s the biggest and most supported marketplace. There are quite a few themes to choose from, you can preview each theme in detail, and each theme is built to be very easy to customize to your particular needs. This can be a first great step in educating yourself in terms of what you can expect your website to look like and functionality it might have.
A good tip when browsing a marketplace like ThemeForest is to pay particular attention to the support forums and ratings. Make sure that the authors of the theme are responsive and are actively developing and supporting the theme. Technology changes each and every day and when building a new site you want to make sure you’re using technology that’s up to date.
If you’re a website developer, or you’re feeling like you want to dive much deeper into the WordPress world, you might want to build your own custom solution. Perhaps you have very specific requirements that none of the existing themes meet or you might have a design that you’re building that’s custom… if that’s the case then you need to build a custom solution. This can be done via the world of WordPress real estate plugins.
Although the most complicated of the approaches of building your real estate site, this will give you the most control. Typically as a website developer you’ll want to go in this direction as you can work with a clean slate and develop a truly great site with no burden of features you don’t need and dealing with someone else’s code.
There are many plugins that deal with real estate listings, lead generation, photo & video galleries etc… we’ll get into all of these in more detail later in this series. The trick is to know what to expect from each plugin and to choose plugins that can grow with the business needs. You don’t want to be stuck 6 months down the road with a plugin that cannot handle a new feature you need to add on the website without ripping it out.