The Complete Guide to Building Your Real Estate Website

If your real estate website is not a lead magnate, you are leaving tons of money on the table.

With 80% of all buyers searching for homes online, your website could be one of the most important factors in the success of your lead generation efforts. You not only have to ensure your brand’s presence on the top of search engine results by using various real estate SEO tactics like keyword competition analysis, but you also need to have a website that can convert visitors into qualified leads.

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Despite the fact that a website is a real estate brand’s face and identity, most real estate agents do a poor job of providing great user experience to visitors.

In this ultimate guide to building your first real estate website, you will learn:

  • The best solutions for your website’s design
  • Should you go for a fully customized website or should you choose an inexpensive theme-based website
  • The most important elements of a real estate website
  • How to design your site’s header
  • How your website’s footer should look like
  • What elements you should have in the sidebar
  • What you should put in your main content area
  • How to choose color scheme
  • Why you should make your website mobile friendly

Things to consider when choosing a website design solution

When you are building your first website, you will be overwhelmed with choices and confused as to what type of website design solution you should choose.

Basically, you can either hire a web developer and designer to build your website from scratch or purchase a website theme and tweak its design slightly on your own. You just need to have your logo designed and learn to navigate around your website’s backend dashboard and theme panel to change color scheme.

There are pros and cons of opting for either of these two options. A custom-made design (that you will have to build from scratch) is a very costly and time-consuming option. A theme-based website will have certain limitations when you need to expend its functionality and features in the future.

Whether you decide to go for a fully customized website or a theme-based solution, you need to put yourself in the shoes of home buyers and sellers and try to determine what they will look for when they are on your website. Your prospective clients will visit your website mainly for the following four reasons:

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  • They will search for the latest listings on the market. Most qualified leads will have budget, property type and/or location in their mind
  • They will try to find out if it is the best time for them to buy or sell homes based on the market trends
  • Sellers will be curious to know how much they can list their home for or in other words, how much their home is worth.
  • Buyers will try to know more about their target location (amenities, public transport, schools etc).

If you have managed to engage these visitors, they will perform any of the following five actions on your website:

  • They will explore listings by using your IDX solution
  • They will connect with you through social media
  • They will subscribe to the content you have on your website to stay updated with the latest market trends and new listings
  • They will use calculators to get an idea about their property’s worth or their monthly mortgage payments
  • And if you are lucky, they will immediately contact you via email or phone call

Your website should be equipped to handle all these actions. If it is, it doesn’t matter whether you have a custom-made design or a theme-based one.

User Interface and User Experience

When a visitor lands on your website, she should find it attractive and useful. In the world of web development, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) are two of the most important elements to ensure that your website engage visitors.

User interface is associated with navigation. Your visitors should be able navigate through your site easily. In other words, the navigation shouldn’t be confusing. User experience is associated with your site’s look. It should be appealing and attractive. A crisp clean design and easy to access navigation structure will keep visitor stay on your website and lead them to take some action.

Home search

Home search functionality is undoubtedly the most important feature of your website. Visitor should be able to put in their budget, location and property type to find suitable homes. Your website must have easy-to-navigate search functionality or IDX integrated.

Another important feature most real estate agents miss out on is a comparison tool which visitors can use to compare properties, price and locations. A comparison tool can help your visitors in the decision making process.

Featured properties are yet another important element of a real estate website. This section should display the most appealing home buying opportunities in the communities you serve.

Call-To-Action

If a visitor has found a suitable listing, your website should lead her to take some action like call you for free consultation or property showing. At this stage, a call-to-action is the most important feature. If it doesn’t have one, you won’t have any leads to follow.

Credentials, Reviews, Testimonials

Why should your visitors trust you? They will if your website prominently displays your previous work and customer satisfaction record. If you have good customer reviews on your social media profiles or other platforms like Zillow, you should display them on your website. The same is true for testimonials. You can have text, audio and video testimonials from your happiest clients.

The ‘About Us’ page should be able to grab attention of your visitors.  If you have a team, the ‘About Us’ page should feature each team member in an impressive and a very professional way.

Content

Listing descriptions makes up the majority of content on a real estate website, but your website must be able to prominently feature other content formats:

  • Blogs
  • Community pages
  • Video tutorials for buyers and sellers
  • Neighborhood info
  • Local real estate news
  • Events
  • Things to do in communities you serve

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Connect

If a prospect wants to connect with you, your website should make this seamlessly easy. Your website should:

  • Have a ‘Contact Us’ page
  • Display all social media channels you are using prominently
  • Have your email and phone numbers prominently displayed

The best solution for your website design needs

WordPress is obviously one of the best solutions. You can buy beautiful themes for just $50-$100 and hire a WordPress website designer to customize the theme to your taste. Most real estate website themes come with above-mentioned functionalities built-in.

A professional website designer with experience in real estate UX and UI can make small changes to the theme’s CSS (cascading style sheets) and customize it as per your requirements.

Most important elements of a real estate website

Any website – in real estate niche or otherwise – can be broken down into four main segments: header, footer, sidebar and main content area. Each of the sections should have a specific role to play. While there are universal rules as to what elements should go into each section, you know that rules are sometimes meant to be broken. You can get as creative as you want, but you should not let things go out of control and end up with a messy layout. Always keep in mind two things – UX and UI –when you have your creative juices flowing.

Here, we would talk about the normally accepted norms in the world of website development and how they apply to real estate niche.

Header

Header is going to be the first impression for your website visitors. It acts like curb appeal when you show a home to a prospective buyer. If it’s messy and don’t help visitors determine they’re in the right place, they are going to get confused.

First of all, you need to have your logo designed by a professional designer. If you don’t know a designer personally, you can hire one on Upwork or Freelancer.com. Your logo represents the personality of your brand, so it should be impressive, clean and easy-to-read.

A tagline below the logo will help your visitors understand your brand’s core message. It could be funny, serious, or simply a keyword that you are targeting.

Next comes the navigation. You can have as many items as you want in the navigation, but here are the most popular choices:

  • Search properties
  • Communities
  • Associates or agents
  • About
  • Services
  • Blog
  • Contact
  • Videos
  • Featured listings
  • Call us Now (You can have your phone number or email displayed separately in the header)
  • Mortgage Calculator
  • Social media icons
  • Testimonials and client reviews
  • Sign-in/register

You don’t need to have all these menu items, but only the ones that are most relevant to your business. You can start with a few of these and add more later as you have more content on your website.

Footer

Footer looks like the least important part of a website, but it is actually one of the most important one. If a visitor has scrolled to the bottom of a page, he will decide whether to leave your website or continue browsing it.

  • Does your footer have some kind of a secondary call-to-action to keep this visitor engaged?
  • Does it have navigation menu so that the visitor doesn’t have to scroll back up?
  • Does it display your contact info prominently so he can call you immediately if he wants to?
  • What if he decides to keep in touch with you on Facebook or Twitter? Does your footer display social media icons to make this easier for him?

Most unmotivated visitors will leave your website even without reaching the bottom of your home page or whatever page they land on your site from search engine results or social media channels. If a visitor has bothered to read your content up to the footer then he can definitely be considered a motivated visitor.

Your website should provide some call-to-action in this section to keep this visitor engaged.

Sidebar

As per the latest trend, an increasing number of real estate websites don’t have a sidebar at all because the home page displays featured listings and search functionality from left to right, but you can still place some elements there:

  • Quick search widget
  • Recent listings
  • Featured blog posts
  • Contact Form
  • Testimonials
  • Social media widgets
  • Contact info

Main body

Now, this is undoubtedly the most important section. It must have certain features to engage your visitors immediately. As a rule of thumb, most real estate websites put a slideshow of featured properties right beneath the header. To engage visitors, your website must display professionally clicked photographs of featured properties with basic information like price in the right bottom.

You can also have a banner displaying a call-to-action like ‘view more featured properties’ or a property search widget on the right side of a static image.

The images in the slideshow (if you go for this option) should be clickable and take your visitors to a landing page or a page displaying more featured properties. You can come up with your own unique call-to-action. The bottom line is to get visitors to take some action on your site.

  • Below the featured properties section, you can display IDX property search widget.
  • Below the IDX widget, you can have a Google map displaying areas that you serve. By making different sections or neighborhoods on the map clickable, your visitors can navigate directly to the places they want to explore.
  • You can have a widget displaying the latest blog entries from your blog page
  • You can have small sections side by side that explain how you serve buyers and sellers from different segments like professionals, families, empty nesters, millennials and also display listings suited to them or have a call-to-action button in each section that takes a visitor to the corresponding page.

Making your website visually appealing with beautiful color schemes

Color psychology is a science that states how colors affect human behavior. Colors have profound effect on people. Studies suggest that it takes a mere 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product. And, 62-90% of that interaction is determined by the color of the product alone.

The color scheme you choose for your website should put your visitors at ease. They should feel comfortable while browsing your website.

Here are some tips for choosing the right color scheme:

  • There should be only two or three prominent colors on your website
  • The header and the logo should define the most prominent color
  • White background works best for the main content area
  • The call-to-action widgets should have bright primary colors for text, call-to-action buttons and background
  • Photographs should be visually appealing

Responsive design

You may put all your focus on creating a great website design for desktop users, but you will be surprised to know that 83 percent of new home buyers search listings on smartphones.

Studies also suggest that 67% of consumers are more likely to buy from a mobile friendly site and users are three times more likely to contact a real estate professional after searching on mobile.

Needless to say, you need to optimize your website for mobile users.

You have three options when it comes to making your website mobile friendly.

  • You can build a mobile-only website, but it’s a very expensive and time consuming option. You may also lose some of the functionality that your desktop website provides to visitors.
  • You can have a mobile app. You can display a link to your app on your desktop website, but the visitor will have to download the app from their smartphone’s app store in order to use it.
  • The best and least expensive option is to have a responsive website design. A responsive design resizes to fit the screen of the device that a visitor is using to browse the website. It means that when a visitor will view the website on a smartphone, the screen will adjust to fit the device size.

 Conclusion

As mentioned earlier, your real estate website is your brand’s identity, so you need to get it right the first time. Don’t build it halfheartedly. The bottom line is to give your visitors a great experience when they browse your site.

Ekta Sharma

Ekta Sharma

Ekta is the co-founder of RealtyCrux. She helps real estate businesses script success stories with her implacable writing and digital marketing skills. Under her guidance, her team creates unique real estate website designs with great user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), logos, landing pages, infographics and lead funnels.