There are literally millions of real estate agents in the United States – 1.3 million, in fact, according to the National Association of Realtors. And one of the best ways to separate yourself from the rest of the herd is with a real estate website that increases your web presence and helps people to find out more about you and your business.
Creating your own website, or paying someone to do it for you, is an important resource for your business, your clients, and your community. Here are a couple of ways you can easily get your own website up and running:
Making Your Real Estate Website
You’re probably thinking, “Hey, REthority – I’m not a web designer. How can I possibly create my own website?” It’s a good question and we just happen to have an answer for you. One of the greatest things about the internet is that it’s accessible to everyone. And we don’t mean just the information.
We mean that anyone can create a website about anything. All you need is a little creativity and time. You don’t have to know complicated coding. These days, there are a few services you can use to create your own website that make it easy.
1. Get a Web Domain
The first step in setting up your website is to get a domain name. This is basically just the address of your website. There are a few domain registrars you can use to acquire the web address you want. There are several other sites you can use to create and register a domain name for your website. These include:
- Domain.com – This site costs $9.99 per year to register a .com or .net domain name.
- Bluehost.com – This site offers web hosting too (which we’ll talk about next!). If you use their web hosting services, then you get one domain free with a package. If you just want to register the domain, it’ll cost you $11.99 per year.
- GoDaddy.com – You can register a .com website with this service for $0.99 for the first year and $14.99 each year after that.
- Name.com – Register your website address with this company for $9.99 per year
When choosing your domain name, it’s important to put some thought into it. After all, this is going to be your identity on the web, so it needs to fit your business while also being easy to find and promote. Here are a few tips to help you choose the perfect domain name for your real estate agent website:
- Keep it simple, short, and sweet
- Make it easy to type
- Avoid using hyphens and numbers
- Make it memorable
- Do some research to help you find the right target keywords
- Target your geographic area
Domain registrars will let you know if a domain name is already taken and give you suggestions if it is. Also, note that it’s best to have a .com website for your real estate business since it’s the most common.
2. Find Hosting
Once you have a great website name chosen and registered, it’s time to find a company to host your website. There are plenty of companies you can use. As mentioned above, some domain registrars such as Bluehost offer hosting services too. A few other hosting options include:
- InMotion – This hosting service offers something for all businesses, big and small, in both WordPress and e-commerce. They have different packages to choose from that run anywhere from $3.99 to $13.99 per month.
- HostGator – This is a great hosting service if you’re on a budget. They offer a basic plan that costs $2.64 per month or a business plan for $5.68 per month.
- Hostinger – This is a great hosting service for businesses that’s inexpensive and easy to use. You can get a single shared hosting plan for only $0.80 per month if you commit to a four-year contract. They do not provide domain name bundles. Just keep in mind that shared hosting accounts are only a good idea if you have a smaller website that won’t use a lot of bandwidth.
- GoDaddy – You can get your domain name and hosting services all in one package with this hosting service. They have an economy package that starts at $2.99 per month, a deluxe package for $4.99, and an ultimate package for $5.99 per month.
3. Set Up Your Website
Once you have the domain name registered and the web hosting squared away, it’s time to start creating your website. Deep breaths – this will be relatively painless!
WordPress is used by a lot of people because it’s easy to use and allows you to create useful and easy-to-navigate websites. It also has some easy to understand SEO tools to help your website in Google and other search engine rankings. The cost to create your own website can be as little as $100 and as much as $3,000. It really depends on what you need your website to do for you.
Before you begin designing, it’s important to think about what you want your website to accomplish. For many real estate agents, a website is a way to display your listings, attract customers and leads, and boost your sales. A great real estate website gets people’s attention and is the first step toward making the sale. Some website features you may want to include are:
- Listings as well as relevant information about each one
- Your contact information
- An option to make appointments
- Links to your social media pages
If you intend to have a large number of listings on your website, you also want to make sure to include great search functionality as well as a way for potential buyers to filter the search results. That’s why you also might want to include:
- Custom fields to help you tailor searches for your specific market
- A map search to help visitors find properties in their target location
- Home filters that allow potential customers to filter a property search based on things such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms
WordPress isn’t your only option, of course. You can also use sites such as Squarespace, Wix, Placester, and Weebly, all of which are relatively inexpensive to use to get your website started.
4. Get Creative!
Now we get to the fun stuff – actually creating your website. Here are some easy steps you can follow:
Pick the Right Theme
Choosing the right theme can help to highlight your properties. Luckily, WordPress has themes specifically designed for real estate websites. Some of the more popular themes have their own listings systems with search features already included as well as custom galleries.
Of course, you don’t have to pick any particular theme just because it has a real-estate focus, but if you don’t want to mess with plugins, then it’s a good choice. Look through the real estate themes and see if there’s one that offers features you think may be useful for your own site.
List Your Properties
The heart and soul of every real estate website are its listings. Your listings must look great, have plenty of good photos, and be descriptive. The better your listing section is, the more leads you can attract. If you choose a theme that includes a listing functionality or plugin already, then getting your listings up will be easy.
If you have decided on a theme that doesn’t include this functionality, then you’ll have to use a plugin such as Easy Property Listings. The good news is that Easy Property Listings is a free plugin and all you need to do is install it and then activate it. There are some add-on features that can cost extra, but it’s really up to you if you use them or not.
Setup an Online Appointment System
An online appointment system is an important part of a real estate website because it encourages someone who may simply be browsing your listings to contact you in order to find out more about a property.
If you make this easy to accomplish, then the more leads you can generate. You can use a contact form on your website or simply make sure your phone number and other contact information are easy to spot, but having an actual online appointment feature can help you take your website to the next level.
You need a plugin such as Easy Appointments for this. It’s a free tool that helps you manage appointments for separate locations, so it’s perfect for this. All you have to do is download the plugin, activate it, configure your locations, and display a booking form on your website.
Following these steps will get your website off the ground, but if you don’t have the time or inclination to go through the process, then hiring out your website setup and design is always an option.
Hiring a Website Designer
While it may be easy to use a website builder to design your own website, you might want features that go beyond the themes and plugins available to you. Hiring a website designer ensures you get a professional-looking, custom website with all the features you want, but it’s going to cost you!
If you determine that having a professional do the job is the best course of action, then here’s what you need to do:
Before you hire a designer, you need to plan out the website. Much like creating your own website, you need a clear plan that you can then convey easily to the designer to help you get a final product you’re happy with. Make sure you can tell them:
- What your goals for the site are
- What you want from the site
- How intricate in size and level you expect the site to be
- How many pages you want the site to be
Once you have all this nailed down, then you’ll be able to easily communicate what you’re looking for out of a website.
Now that the designer knows what you have in mind, then you need to provide them with all the information they need. Any photos you want to use, content, and so on need to be passed along. It’s also important to be clear about what you can and can’t afford. Create a budget early on for your website and ask a professional designer what you can expect to get for that price.
How to Hire a Designer
How do you find a professional designer to create a website for you? There are a couple of ways you can go about it:
Hire a Freelancer
Believe it or not, there are a ton of freelance web designers out there and they’re not hard to find if you know where to look. Freelancers are a great option if you’re working on a tight budget and they offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to working hours, deadlines, and project scope.
You can easily find freelancers on specialized freelance websites that work to match freelancers with jobs they’re perfect for. Guru, PeoplePerHour, and Upwork are just a few of the legit options out there.
Go to one of these websites and you can easily browse profiles of freelancers to help you find the right one for your job. These sites also provide you with a way to contact the freelancer to discuss the job with them and you can use the interface on the website to help you take care of payments, transfer files, and communicate, too.
The cost of working with a freelance web designer varies, but it’s not uncommon to pay anywhere between $60 and $200 per hour for their talents, depending on how much experience they have. Make sure to ask up front for an estimate of how long the build will take so you can agree on a price before any work starts.
Work with a Firm
Working with a design firm has a lot of advantages. After all, they employ teams of people who are all working to ensure your website it the best it can be.
That means more functionality for your website and help with the branding of your website for your business, possibly by incorporating some more advanced items into the website design.
The only real downside to working with a firm is cost. You’re looking at $5,000 and up for a professionally built website with a firm. But even with the high cost of a firm, you can try to negotiate a budget that can work for both of you.
Web design services such as DreamHost offer work by professional designers to create your site but in more affordable packages.
They can create a fully functional site for you for as little as $999.00 and also offer branding services to help you create a logo, email signature, letterhead, and business cards. They’re just one of a few price-effective strategies to get a professionally built website when you’re on a budget.
What About IDX?
The internet data exchange (IDX) allows you to connect to the MLS system in order for visitors to your website to search available properties. It’s a valuable tool for independent real estate agents who want to capture leads through their website.
WordPress offers IDX themes, but there are several other tools you can use to build an IDX-enabled website that also happen to include some great customer relationship technology to help you capture, track, and grow leads. Some of our favorites include:
- An IDX-enabled website builder with many templates to choose from that is also mobile-ready and SEO optimized
- Advertising and lead generation tools to help you manage Google and Facebook ads
- Lead capture widgets you can add to your website and tools to help foster the leads you do capture
Real Geek pricing starts out at $199 per month for up to two agents. Adding additional agents to the service will cost $25 each per month. That cost gets you an IDX website, marketing tools, and CRM.
Placester can help you to build mobile-friendly, up-to-date real estate websites that help you to capture leads. It’s a very basic service, but that means it’s really affordable at just $99 per month if you’re a member of the National Association of Realtors. If you’re not a member, then it’s still only $125 per month. For that price per month you get:
- An IDX website that also has blogging functionality
- Marketing tools
- Lead magnets
Zurple is a little different since they can build a customized IDX website for you. If you’re not comfortable building your own site and want an expert to tackle IDX for you, then Zurple is your company. They offer:
- An IDX website building service with SEO-optimized websites, mobile optimization, and site search
- A system that can auto-respond to new leads and sends you alerts to engage with prospective buyers
Zurple will cost you a one-time onboarding fee of $199 to $499 per month based on how many pages you want your website to be. They also charge $349 per site and if you want them to manage marketing for you, that’ll cost $250 to $450 per month.
It’s expensive when compared to other services, but keep in mind that they build your website for you, all you have to do is pay them. The only caveat with IDX websites is that you have to make sure you’ve got the right hosting service to handle the bandwidth, so it could cost you a little more to set up and run than a non-IDX website.
How Should You Create Your Real Estate Website?
Every real estate professional needs an online presence as a part of their real estate marketing and lead generation strategy. After all, if home buyers can’t find you online, then that’s business you’re losing out on.
Today there’s no excuse not to have the best real estate website you can afford to help you accomplish this goal – not when you have so many easy to use tools at your fingertips!