Every real estate agent can benefit from having a professional website. This article tells you how to get started and offers tips for building a site to make you stand out from the competition.

Do you have an active real estate website?

  • No. (53%, 53 Votes)
  • Yes. (47%, 47 Votes)

Total Voters: 100

Why you need an agent website

If you’re reading this article, you fall into one of two categories:

1)    You don’t use a website to display your listings, but you want one; or

2)    You don’t use a website to display your listings, and don’t think you need one.

If you fall into the second category, here’s some food for thought: 74% of buyers and sellers use websites frequently in their home searches, according to a 2014 National Association of Realtors survey. This same survey found 34% of buyers and sellers used their phones or tablet to search for homes frequently. In fact, 27% of buyers surveyed found their new home using a mobile application.

Of the agent website features offered, buyers and sellers found the most helpful to be, in order:

  • photos;
  • property details;
  • interactive maps;
  • virtual tours; and
  • neighborhood information.

If you don’t already have a website, building one will help you reach out to more potential buyers and gain more listings.

Start now: The quick and easy website

Your first step is to choose the web platform best for your needs, time and abilities. It’s important to do your research before pouring energy into building a site on a platform that may not have been the best choice. Here are six options to consider:

1. Your brokerage may already provide access to a website template. That’s great, because that means you work for a broker who understands the advantages of an online presence. Often, you only pay a minimal fee to include your personalized real estate brand and listings on the larger company site.

On the other hand, if you want an easy set-up, readily available support and don’t mind spending a little extra, consider using a template from a listing aggregate like Zillow or Trulia. Visitors to your website won’t know it’s being run by Zillow or Trulia, even though it’s powered by one or the other.

2. Zillow’s plan starts at $10 per month and includes integration with your local MLS, your chosen domain name, and gives clients mobile access to your site. The details are found at Zillow’s Premier Agent Websites page.

3. If you’d like a more comprehensive (and more costly) set of online tools, look into Trulia. With a premium subscription to Trulia One, which costs $99 per month, you get to personalize your website in addition to receiving an ad-free featured listing on Trulia’s website and online tools to navigate marketing campaigns.

Zillow or Trulia’s home price estimates don’t impact their website services. However, if you prefer to avoid Zillow/Trulia, here are some stand-alone website services:

4. One of my favorites, Agent bizz up is a website design service designed specifically for real estate agents or brokerages. Their most popular plan for individual agents is $12.99 per month if you sign up for a full year. This plan features unlimited listings, unlimited photos and up to 2,500 email campaign recipients sponsored each month. Agent bizz up allows you to customize your site based on your client type: residential, commercial, and even has features for landlords and vacation rentals. Access to analytics (which displays the number of page views, unique visitors, and time spent per page) is the cherry on top of this website service.

5. Another option is RealEstate Sites, with different packages for different budgets, starting at $29/month. This site provider offers hundreds of themes to choose from. The range of options offered by RealEstate Sites can help you turn your site into something really custom, but might be overwhelming if you just want a simple set-up. Real Estate Sites also assists in making property sites for individual listings.

6. One of the few free website creation services out there for real estate agents is RapidListings. Their free version, which limits your page to display only five listings, is meant to be a taste of what their broader service offers. Therefore, don’t expect to pay nothing and get any praise for your website. However, the free version can help you get a feel for their customer service and features before committing. To unlock unlimited listings and other useful features, RapidListing’s monthly fee starts at $34.95, with a $99 initial set-up fee.

A to-do list for every real estate website

Already have a website? Fine tune your website by following these tips.

1) Invest sweat equity to make a better website. Commit a solid 3-5 hours each week to maintaining your website. A stale website with old information is not just useless, it hurts your online credibility. Adding new listings, new photos and new reviews can go a long way to keeping your site fresh and relevant.

2) Keep it clean. One of the worst things you can do to your website is bog down the homepage with too many links, menus or too much text. This turns off visitors to the site and will have them looking for something easier to navigate.

3) Brag about your achievements. When it comes to gaining potential clients’ trust, everyone likes a show off. Consider highlighting one of your accomplishments on the homepage, such as belonging to the “longest-established brokerage” in your city, or winning a real estate related award.

4) Add some web videos. Investing in a couple solid videos provides benefits beyond the single listing the video promotes. It also shows potential clients your work in action, while branding you as willing to go above and beyond to get your listing sold.

To read more on effectively producing and promoting real estate videos, see our interview with online marketing expert Ahryn Scott.

5) Include reviews from past clients. Not only does this demonstrate your success as an agent, but it also can improve web traffic to your site. Real estate is a business still heavily dependent on word-of-mouth!

6) Spend a little time on search engine optimization (SEO), the science behind how clients find your website. You can read a whole bunch of SEO tips in our interview with local SEO expert Jason McDonald.

One of the most important aspects of gaining traffic is to keep it specific. There are a million websites out there about “California real estate for sale,” so the chance of your website popping up in someone’s internet search is slim. Potential clients are much more likely to search for homes in specific cities, zip codes or even neighborhoods. Thus, tailoring your website to the exact area you serve will boost your SEO.