Building a real estate website: how to establish yourself online
These days, anyone looking to buy property will start their search online. This holds true across the board – for people who want to rent an apartment, buy a house, or procure a plot of land, whether for their own use or as an investment. That’s why, classic real estate platforms and agent networks are important for anyone who’s active as a real estate agent.
However, if you’re looking to stay independent of large platforms and networks and want to have an extra asset in the fight for buyers and renters, you should consider creating your own real estate website. Keep reading to learn how to create a real estate website and what advantages it brings.
- What are the advantages of creating a real estate website?
- Building your own real estate website: a must in corona times
- Creating a real estate website: what are your options?
- What kind of content makes for a good real estate website?
- Step-by-step guide: how to create a real estate website
What are the advantages of creating a real estate website?
Given the presence and reach of websites that show various kinds of real estate, many agents wonder whether it makes sense to build their own real estate website. However, it’s all too easy to exaggerate the positive aspects of established real estate platforms and underestimate the advantages of creating one’s own real estate website. Having your own personal web presence has the advantage of being independent of real estate platforms and networks – which means you also save money on fees for these services.
But it doesn’t stop there. Building a real estate website also comes with the following advantages:
- In the real estate sector, business often materializes via personal contacts. When getting in contact with clients, having your own website can be a key element for success.
- Having your own online presence can help simplify administrative processes. You can easily share up-to-date information with potential buyers and renters and display important data and addresses.
- When you have your own real estate website, you have plenty of space for showing your personal strengths as an agent. There is no room for this on real estate platforms. You can also reference the special characteristics of your local/regional market.
- Marketing is also very important in the real estate sector. When planning campaigns and executing social media offers, having your own website can be key.
With a website of your own, you’ll have the chance to optimize your presence and image on the market. The basic requirements are that you have an online portfolio that’s representative of your work and that you perform regular maintenance on the site.
Combine your own real estate website with List Local to ensure that your agency appears in relevant databases, platforms, and apps, and manage information and feedback in one place.
Building your own real estate website: a must in corona times
It would be wrong to think that the real estate industry has been hard hit by the corona crisis. The need and demand for living spaces is as high as ever. However, delayed construction work, unpayable financing plans, complicated procedures for viewings, and longer administrative processes do have an effect on day-to-day business. That’s why, having your own real estate website is more important than ever for getting clients’ attention, starting and continuing a conversation, and serving as a point of contact for information and updates.
Even if your local government hasn’t placed any corona-related restrictions on the real estate branch, you should try to limit in-person contact with the public.
Even if you already include corona-related information in your ads, your website offers the perfect platform for prominently presenting detailed and up-to-date information. And when it comes to viewings, having your own website makes it possible to offer alternatives to in-person showings: You can add extra photos to your real estate ads or even present a 360-degree tour of the property.
At IONOS, we want to be a strong partner to you and your real estate business, especially in corona times. On our IONOS online store site, we summarize our diverse offers for support.
Creating a real estate website: what are your options?
The first important decision you’ll have to make in building your real estate website is how to implement it technically. Most people don’t have the necessary knowledge and time to program a website themselves, so there are plenty of easy-to-implement solutions for laypeople. Depending on your needs and budget, you can opt for a website builder, CMS, or employ an agency.
Keep reading to find out more about each of these options.
Program the website yourself
Employ an agency or design service
If an individualized and professional design is important to you, you’ll want to consider employing an agency or design service. They’ll take care of the programming, design, content, and maintenance of your website, so you can concentrate fully on the other aspects of your business. And you’ll need little to no technical knowledge of your own. However, this option requires a significant budget, as the costs for employing an agency are significantly higher than for the other solutions we present here.
Building your real estate website with a CMS
Modern content management systems (CMS) boast diverse features that enable you to design your own website from scratch without extensive programming knowledge. In this sense, popular solutions such as WordPress are looking more and more like website builders – website elements can be added, modified, and removed using drag-and-drop, and high-performance WYSIWYG editors transform plain text automatically into HTML code. Another strength of CMS is the strict separation of design and content, which means that making changes to either of them is easy as pie. Since the majority of CMS are free and open source, you’ll only have to pay for the costs of hosting your website and any paid templates that you may decide to use.
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Creating your real estate website with a website builder
If using a CMS doesn’t offer you as much support as you’d like, a website builder might be a fitting alternative. With a website builder, you can also arrange preconfigured components using drag-and-drop and automatically transform content into HMTL or CSS using user-friendly editors. The difference here is that you’ll get the software directly from your chosen service provider, who will also take care of the hosting for your website. You’ll typically pay a monthly fee for these services.
IONOS’ MyWebsite Now and MyWebsite Creator provides tailor-made website builders for independent real estate agents and larger real estate firms – including your own domain, email address, and SSL/TLS-certificate!
Programming yourself, agency, CMS, and website builder: the pros and cons at a glance
Which solution is right for you will depend on your technical knowledge, your budget, and the amount of time you want to invest in the project. We’ve summarized the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options in a simple table.
|Program yourself||Agency/design service||CMS||Website builder|
|Technical know-how||IT professionals||No knowledge||Intermediate/advanced knowledge||Beginners|
|Advantages||Maximum freedom||Professional support allows you to focus on day-to-day business||Works with open-source software; good basis for long-term maintenance||Very user friendly; technical framework handled completely by service provider|
|Disadvantages||Big challenge; significant time investment||Higher costs; makes you dependent on agency||Regular updates (often time-intensive) to CMS required||Individualization limited, fixed number of templates available to users|
What kind of content makes for a good real estate website?
If you want your real estate website to be successful, well thought out content is of the utmost importance. If visitors to your site can easily find the most important information and contact details, then you’ve already completed the first step in sealing a successful business transaction. On the other hand, if a potential customer gets completely lost on your site, you may have already lost their business.
The following pages and content should be part of any real estate website:
- “About me” or “About us” page
- List of services, possibly with description
- Real estate listings
- Section for sellers
- Section for landlords (if relevant)
- Contact page
As the part of your website that users typically see first, the homepage plays a big part in the success of your site. It serves to inform users about the topic and contents of your website and gives you the chance to highlight important updates. Representative photos and text play an important role in catching visitors’ attention and making an impression. The homepage should also contain the main menu, which helps users navigate your website and get an overview of the other pages.
“About me” or “About us” page
As you’re well aware, trust, reliability, and personal connection are of key importance in the real estate industry. By introducing yourself and/or your team (with text and potentially with photos), you can already start collecting these important plus points with potential clients. This is also a great place to share the founding story and philosophy of your real estate agency. You can place references of successfully brokered deals here or on a separate page.
A well-structured real estate website will make it clear to visitors what kind of services you offer. However, an explicit list of these services is still advisable, especially if you deal in special kinds of properties or offer any other unique skills. This is also a great place to present any additional services you provide, such as home staging, assistance with moving, or investment and financing offers.
The main reason for creating a real estate website is to present properties. This is also one of the main reasons users will visit your site. Your own website is the perfect place to show listings, since you can stage the properties exactly how you want. You have free range over how many photos you show, which pictures make the cut, and how you describe the properties.
Make sure that you include contact details with each property, even if the contact info is the same for every listing. When the relevant email address, phone number, or contact form is listed directly with the property, it makes it easier for interested users to get in touch with you.
Section for sellers
Depending on the state of the real estate market in your area, it may be important that property owners who are looking to sell can reach out to you directly. Having a special section for sellers provides a good foundation for this. Interested sellers can then get in touch with you directly and also inform themselves in advance about your services and the way you work.
Section for landlords
If you work with rental properties, then it can be helpful to have a special section for property owners and managers who are looking to rent out a house or apartment. On this page, you can provide information about how you work and of course how anyone interested in your services can get in touch with you.
This is one of the most important parts of your website. On this page, you should display the different options for getting in contact with you – email address, phone number, contact form, and/or address and business hours for your office. It should be as easy as possible for anyone who wants to use your services to reach you, meaning that this page should be easily reachable from the main menu.
You can display the location of your office using Google Maps to make it even easier for clients to find you.
Step-by-step guide: how to create a real estate website
Now that you have an overview of the technical and content considerations involved, we can tie it all together in a step-by-step guide to building your real estate website. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know, from choosing a domain to publicity and marketing.
Step 1: Choosing and registering a domain
Finding a domain looks quick and easy at first glance, but can often be a source of headaches. The first challenge is finding a domain name that’s short and expressive and makes sense with the name of your agency. And then, of course, that name has to be available.
After you’ve found a fitting domain, you’ll have to register it. To do this, look for a domain provider that lets you activate your desired domain at a good price. For more detailed information and tips on choosing and setting up your web address, take a look at our article “The Most Important Tips for Domain Registration”.
You already have the perfect domain for your website? Register your domain right away with IONOS!
Step 2: Programming and designing your website
Now that you’ve secured your domain, you can turn to the technical and artistic aspects of your website. We’ve already discussed the different options for getting your website set up from a technical standpoint. But there’s more to this step than just writing code – or more likely having it written for you! Before you start creating your real estate website, you should put some thought into its functionality and design.
One important task is giving your users the best user experience possible. Smooth navigation is an essential part of that. It’s also important to design the site in a way that provides visual stimuli for the user, in order to capture their attention.
Many CMS and website builders offer you ready-to-use design templates. If you’re using the MyWebsite service by IONOS, you’ll also have a large selection of industry-specific design templates to choose from.
Step 3: Fill in the content of your website
After you’ve sorted out the technical framework for your website, you can get to work on the most important aspect of the site: the content. You’ve already read some details above about which content should be part of your site. But how you lay out those pages is completely up to you. Whether you set up individualized contact forms for your different target groups (buyers, sellers, renters, landlords) or start your own blog is a matter of personal choice. You might also want to consider a special log-in area for regular clients.
The most important content on a real estate website is your listings. Make sure you have professional photos and expressive, informative descriptions of the properties. Using videos, slideshows, and interactive elements can also set you apart from the competition.
Having a website is also a must in other industries. For tailor-made tips in other fields, see our articles:
Step 4: Publish, market and optimize your real estate website
Once you’ve built your real estate website and filled it with content, you’re finally ready to publish it. Check beforehand whether you’re satisfied with the finished product and whether the various elements (such as navigation, buttons, links, forms, etc.) work as intended. Of course, you can make changes once your website is live, but dysfunctions have a significant negative effect on user satisfaction and the evaluation of search engines such as Google.
The way that Google evaluates your website will be of long-term interest for you: The more prominent your website and its subpages are in search engine results, the more users and potential clients will find their way to your business. A solid search engine optimization (SEO) strategy will include:
- Well-planned and regularly-updated keyword strategies,
- Good internal linking,
- Image SEO,
- and voice search optimization.
At the end of the day, a real estate website also needs active advertising: Include your domain in print ads, on your business cards, and on official letters and documents. And if you’re active on social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you should advertise your website there as well.