To sell properties you need clients….
But to gain clients you need a visible and trustworthy brand….
But to build a brand you need to sell properties…
It’s a tricky one, isn’t it?
Just what is the best way of establishing a presence online that prospective clients buy into and trust?
One of the major challenges for any broker striking out on his or her own, or for someone trying to grow an established agency, is making yourself stand out.
Building a website for your real estate brokerage is an excellent way of growing your brand, showcasing properties, and of generating new leads.
But with so many real estate website builders to sort through, it can be a real challenge figuring out where to start.
So how do you ensure you’re picking the right platform on which to create your own digital real estate?
To help you out, we’ve reviewed what we consider to be among the best real estate website builders around.
This discussion will cover the essential things to keep an eye out for when window shopping for a real estate website builder and then shortlist our top recommendations to consider if you want a truly stunning website.
Click on the following links to read the specific sections:
HOW TO PICK THE BEST REAL ESTATE WEBSITE BUILDER
When you’re part of a growing agency or trying to make it on your own as a broker, having an eye-catching real estate website is a no brainer – right?
After all, a beautiful website not only makes you to stand out from the crowd, but can help you to manage and grow your business too.
You want a website that catches the attention of potential buyers and sellers, helps to build your brand, and most importantly, helps you get found among all the competition online…
So why not build it yourself?
Using a website builder is the best way to create a professional-looking real estate website that can help your business reach its potential without breaking the bank.
When you’re researching website building platforms, it’s worth remembering that the very best real estate builders will:
- Help build your brand
- Help you be found by customers online
- Enable access to IDX listings
- Show off properties to buyers
- Generate new leads
- Help you run your business more efficiently
1.Help build your brand
Having your own real estate website is a great way to grow your brokerage and build a respected brand.
The only downside is that every broker and agent from New York to L.A. has had the same idea – so how do you stand out?
The best real estate website builders will offer you a selection of professionally designed templates that you can either use as a jumping off point to build your own site on top of, or as inspiration to help get your creative juices flowing.
Either way, a website builder will be a massive help in helping you establish a clear brand across your website. It couldn’t be simpler to change the color of backgrounds, borders, menus or the font, size and color of text.
Use our helpful guide to identify the best colors for your website, and then watch how quickly you can roll your business’ branding across your site.
2.Help you get found online by the right customers
Having a website for your real estate business isn’t going to be much use if you can’t be found…
The best real estate website builders can help you get be heard over the online static!
There are lot of misconceptions about what SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is and how it works. Thankfully it’s not as complicated to understand as many people would have you believe.
Asa rule of thumb, your focus should be on creating content that your audience wants to read. Keywords are still important but they are more of a guiding hand rather than the be-all-and-end-all, as they used to be, for SEO.
These days, content is king – so it is essential for your real estate website to have a blog that you can post regularly to. Not only can you show off the latest properties, but you can share your industry thoughts and expertise too.
This helps to show Google that your website is regularly updated with fresh content (an important part of SEO!) that it is relevant content to your niche, and also has the added bonus of building your brand and establishing you as an expert.
The best website builders make it easy to add a blog to your website. Most will also offer SEO optimization features, which will help you to tailor your website towards your target market.
3.Enable access to IDX listings + the MLS
IDX (Internet Data Exchange) – enables real estate professionals to display up-to-date property listing data on their own websites.
MLS (Multi Listing Service) – real estate services that are used to handle appraisals, offers and compensation among brokers.
If you’re in the real estate game, then you already know the importance of being able to access the IDX, as well as being able to close deals via the MLS.
Not having IDX listings on your site would be like going to a bakery only to discover they don’t stock bread!
With this in mind, it is really important that your website can access the IDX in order to help your business grow.
Thankfully a growing number of real estate website builders are equipping their platforms with the ability to pull in listings from the IDX – albeit in varying degrees.
And if there isn’t a native solution available immediately, then – once again – it’s worth looking at the available apps and plugins from third party developers that will enable this on your website. Be aware you’ll more than likely have to pay for these IDX/MLS apps – but once you start closing deals , they’ll pay for themselves.
4.Show off properties to buyers
Buyers aren’t interested in things they can’t see, so ensuring your properties look as great as possible when posted online is an essential thing to look out for when shopping around real estate website builders.
The very best ones will offer you a wide array of methods to promote your listings, from image slideshows to automated carousels (e.g. sets of images that cycle through automatically), from pop-out lightboxes to videos – you want as many options as possible.
You may not use everything on offer, but it’s definitely better to have it than go without.
Take the smartphone in your pocket – you probably don’t use every app every day, do you? But they’re still useful to have when you need them!
It’s your business on the line, so make every decision count and take your time to test-drive the free trial periods on real estate website builders. Discover what design features they offer, try them out and then decide if they are for you.
5.Generate new leads
Your website is an important tool for your business, so being able to prominently display your contact information or even embed a form for interested parties to complete and submit can be invaluable.
The best website builders will enable you to either add forms and text boxes (to stick your contact details in!) directly onto your web pages – just drag it around until it looks good and then drop it, simple.
Nurturing leads through your website is a great way of warming up prospects and re-invigorating your pipeline of properties!
To warm up leads you could use in-built marketing tools, such as Wix Shout, which allows you to create and send email campaigns to a list of subscribers – ideal for promoting auctions.
For more adventurous users, head over to your chosen website builders app store/marketplace and have a poke around.
The very best platforms will offer you a wealth of useful apps and feature plugins that you can add to your website to help generate new leads and business prospects.
6.Help you run your business more efficiently
The biggest and best website builders have an app store or marketplace, similar to the one on your smartphone, where you can find all sorts of third party features and functions to help you run your business much more efficiently.
How much simpler would your life be if you could arrange viewings directly through your website and then be updated automatically when a slot is booked?
How about including a dynamic map so that prospects can plot routes to properties?
What about adding a blog to share your expertise, build trust and potentially boost your google rankings, leading to more website traffic and subsequently more new leads?
I don’t know about you, but that sounds incredibly efficient to me – and all it would take to achieve is a quick browse in the website builder app store to find the right apps for the job!
THE 4 BEST REAL ESTATE WEBSITE BUILDERS
Using a website builder is the smart way of getting your brokerage online and growing your business – let your website do the hard work so you can focus on the things that matter most – like closing deals!
Deciding whether to have a website for your real estate business is a pretty easy decision to make – I’m sure we can all agree on that.
But deciding on the right real estate website builder to use? Well that’s not quite as easy.
There are dozens of great website builders on the market, so it can be pretty exasperating trying to figure out where to start, let alone what features to look out for, price points and whether your specific business needs will be covered.
One of the major considerations you’ll need to make is whether you opt for the powerful versatility of an all-round website builder or for a highly specialized, but more limited platform that only makes real estate websites?
Both types of website builder have their own pros and cons, so to take a weight off your mind and help you decide on the right platform for your business, we recommend using our list of the four best real estate website builders below.
1) Squarespace (1+ million websites)
Squarespace is a website builder known for creating stunning, mobile responsive websites. Thanks to its beautiful templates and high-end feel, Squarespace is a great choice of platform to grow your brand on and is also capable of MLS search integration, so that you don’t miss out on any sales.
Making a strong first impression is essential in the business world and even more so in real estate, where you need buyers and sellers to put their trust in you.
Squarespace’s template selection is by no means the largest, but it does offer a number of beautiful, professional-looking designs for real estate websites, including ‘Five’ and ‘Bryant’ – both of which are ideal for making yourself stand out from your competitors and establishing your brand as one to trust.
Using a template is a great way of saving time and effort because it is essentially done for you! All you need to do is update the imagery and the text and you’re good to go.
You’ll also find that Squarespace places a big emphasis on imagery in its templates, which makes it the ideal platform to showcase properties and catch the eye of prospective buyers.
It’s not just first impressions though, it’s about keeping old leads alive too!
Thankfully Squarespace can help you warm up leads without the need for a single cold call – because we all know how much people hate getting a cold calls!
Squarespace offers a number of marketing integrations that act like apps on your smartphone and add extra functions to your website.
Integrations with platforms like MailChimp can help you build subscriber lists and craft dedicated marketing campaigns that can warm up cold leads and even generate fresh ones.
There are even integrations to help you promote your brand on social channels – perfect for the growing millennial market.
One of the major concerns for any real estate website is actually getting found online. Squarespace provides in-depth help articles that guide you through SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) best practices, so you can give yourself the strongest chance possible of ranking.
If you’re willing to push yourself a little bit, you can utilise unofficial Squarespace integrations to grow your business by adding an SEO manager or even a blog, which, as we mentioned earlier, can be invaluable in helping your SEO efforts and brand building.
You can even add third party features by adding small pieces of HTML code to your webpages, which is perfect for adding an MLS (multiple listing service) property search to your site.
Now I know HTML sounds scary – but I promise it’s not.
Squarespace have prepared a brilliant, in-depth guide that details every step. It’s pretty simple and involves adding a ‘code block’, which is a type of text box that allows you to add custom HTML to your pages. The code you’ll need will be provided by your IDX service of choice.
And if you get stuck, Squarespace provides impressively in-depth help guides for almost any issue you can imagine, as well as user forums and in-editor pop-ups that can simplify and guide you through the design process.
You can also take advantage of support via email (24/7) or live chat (4am-8am EST).
2) Wix (110+ million websites)
Wix is a simple-to-use and versatile website builder. It offers a huge selection of professionally designed templates that you can choose to work from, a wide-ranging app market for adding extra functions and features to your website, and one of the easiest to use editors on the market – a real time-saver for non-technical people in my experience!
Wix offers over 500 professionally designed templates, with around 10 dedicated entirely to real estate websites. These templates include some great features like contact forms, dynamic maps, and even online booking forms that clients can use to arrange viewings – convenient and time-saving for both parties I’m sure you’ll agree!
Why spend thousands of dollars on a bespoke real estate website when you can build one for the price of bagel on Wix?
Having an eye-catching website that also helps to make prospective clients’ lives easier is a great way of making yourself stand out in a crowded marketplace. In fact, there’s really no need to edit the templates at all – they’re ready to use out of the box! The best bit is that you don’t necessarily need to even know any HTML – great news!
All you need to do is update the imagery to your branding and properties, tweak the text and you’re good to go – it couldn’t be quicker or easier to get your site ready to publish online.
It’s not just Wix’s templates that are great for making your brand stand out. The Wix App Market is home to hundreds of useful apps that you could use to really expand your reach and capture new customers.
Whether it’s adding dynamic forms to accept bookings on the go, an integrated blog (for valuable SEO-boosting content publishing), or even a utility like ‘Testimonial Builder’ that allows clients to provide testimonials for you to display on your site – a great way to build trust – It’s definitely worth poking around to see what you turn up!
Wix also provides an impressively large selection of articles to help you optimize your website for SEO factors and get you ranking.
These range from advice on best practice (e.g. personalizing page titles) to rundowns of their top SEO boosting apps, which include apps such as ‘Site Boost’ that can help push you up the rankings – the perfect tool for helping you get your brand noticed and business growing.
There are also a wide choice of marketing and social apps that can help you build contact lists, create custom email marketing campaigns and even help you build a presence on social media.
Using Wix apps is a smart (and time-saving) way of contacting leads in each and every market niche so that you don’t miss out on any sales.
Wix also offers a wide range of support to ensure you don’t get stuck. If the tooltips in the editor don’t clarify things, then head over to the huge Wix support centre where there are hundreds of helpful articles that solve most common issues.
You can even arrange a phone call back from Wix at a time convenient to you – super helpful if you already a have a busy morning of viewings.
The only drawback is that it can be a little difficult to add IDX/MLs listings directly to your site as there is no official plugin at this time. However, having looked over a number of IDX broker websites, it does seem possible to create a widget (like an app for custom functions) and add this to your Wix site, which would be a very handy workaround.
3) Weebly (40+ million websites)
Weebly is one of the easiest website builders to use and is great if you are looking for a straightforward website building experience. It provides a simple and efficient editor, a great selection of templates that can be easily edited, and is capable of integrating IDX listings directly into your website.
While there aren’t quite as many templates as Wix, Weebly possesses a strong selection of professional-looking theme designs for you to work on straight out of the box. Weebly doesn’t provide specific real estate themes, but does offer some great options for you work with.
Themes like ‘Avenue’ and ‘Bayside Inn’ are a great starting point for your website as their clean, simple designs make it easy to align them better with your brand. Both offer great ways of displaying your property photography in various slideshows, galleries and frames, which can help you showcase properties and catch the eye of prospective buyers.
Editing one of Weebly’s templates is a great way of giving yourself a head start on the designing process and can prove to be a real time-saver as you may not need to change too much other than text and images. It’s a really convenient way of working and frees you up to focus on generating leads and selling properties – the real meat and bones of your business.
Thankfully, Weebly’s editor is exceptionally easy to use, you simply drag the element (text/image/slideshow/etc) and drop it where you want. This makes it a great option for non-technical agents and brokers looking to design a website quickly and easily, publish it to the web and start ranking as soon as possible.
Weebly is a very solid platform to build your brand and grow your reputation on as it is underpinned by some great SEO support. Staff blogs guide you through SEO best practice principles for the Weebly editor, including updating headings, titles, page descriptions, and much more.
It’s also easy to add a blog so that you can keep adding fresh content to your website and improve your ranking potential.
And if you need an extra boost, you can sign up to a premium plan and take advantage of numerous SEO-focussed apps that are designed to further improve your search engine rankings – as always, read the reviews and find the app best suited to solving your needs.
The support Weebly provides for boosting your presence is very impressive and extremely handy if you’re unfamiliar with SEO and what it entails – it certainly helped us when we were starting out on Weebly!
Ranking well on search engines like Google is essential if you want your real estate website to be found, but there’s no point in being found if you can’t promote the properties you’re trying to sell. Without a showcase of properties on your website, why would visitors – even if they found your site on page 1 of Google – book a viewing or make an enquiry?
Answer: They wouldn’t!
Thankfully the Weebly App Store contains apps that can integrate IDX feeds directly into your real estate website – a major competitive advantage! Apps like ‘Realtyna IDX’ will prove invaluable if you use Weebly for your real estate website.
You can also use one of Weebly’s many marketing apps to encourage visitors to sign up to subscriber lists, or even create tailored email marketing campaigns to generate leads, warm up old prospects and even show-off property deals. This is a very handy way of keeping in touch with clients without the need to spend hours on the phone cold-calling people.
Placester is the only dedicated real estate website builder on our list. This specialization has helped to establish Placester as one of the leading platforms in the real estate niche thanks to a number of great features that can really make your site stand out in a very crowded market.
Placester understands why real estate agents and brokers need their own presence on the web..
Placester websites are designed to help you sell more houses and and so their choice of templates are clean, concise, and mobile responsive – important for agents who need to travel a lot. They achieve this through innovations like video backgrounds for a truly stand out appearance – just imagine how impactful seeing a video tour of your future house could be for one of your prospective clients!
There are a number of extremely useful apps available, such as dynamic map search for highlighting routes to properties, blogging capabilities and home valuation tools, however these are only available through certain paid premium plans – so you’ll need to cough up if you really want to make the most of Placester’s platform.
Unfortunately, this does come at a premium as Placester is a much more expensive platform than any of Wix, Squarespace or Weebly. Placester starts at $99 per month unless you are an NAR member, in which case it is free to use. You’ll also be liable for a setup fee that ranges from $99-$199, which feels a little steep.
Placester doesn’t offer an open free trial so it can feel like a big step into the unknown if committing to a paid premium plan.
Admittedly, you do get a lot of support on Placester, which you would hope for with the price you’re paying. The setup fee ensures support setting up IDX Integration as well as the rest of your website, so it is useful, but with additional monthly costs tacked on for things like extra templates then you can easily see costs spiral with Placester – undermining one of the key reasons for choosing a website builder, it’s cost-cutting benefits!
Add to this the fact you need to apply and wait to be approved to use Placester, and well for users looking for a quick and easy way to build their online presence then Placester probably isn’t the platform for you. However, if you’ve more time and money to invest, then Placester is definitely worth considering!