The world is moving into a completely digital age and if you think your industry will not be affected think again. If you are a real estate agent and have worked based on referrals, cold calls and other traditional methods, let me share some thoughts with you.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), at 42 percent of home buyers in 2017 took their first step toward their purchase by looking online for properties available for sale. Compared to that, 17 percent contacted a real estate agent first. If you get a frown on your face from the disparity in the numbers – worry, because it will get worse.
You heard about the old phrase; “If you can’t beat them, go with them”? That is exactly what you should consider doing.
Thanks to digital, home buyers are entering the process of being more educated about market conditions, what to look for in a property and more. Often they begin their learning process before they even interact with an agent.
Make use of this change and educate your prospective clients first – using your own website.
The real process of setting up a real estate website is not difficult. All you need is a domain name, website hosting, and maybe use a website builder or a WordPress template to make things look and feel good.
Setting Up The Foundation: Domain, Hosting, Website Builder
A domain name is the address your online identity can use to allow people to access your website. This is something that is common to most people, but as a realtor, you need to care about it.
Your domain name needs to be something simple and representative, so that prospective clients can see it and remember it easily.
Web hosting is a much more complex business, but I won’t go into the nuts and bolts here, as WHSR is almost an encyclopedia of web hosting service providers.
Just browse and feel out a web hosting provider that is good for you and your business. Personally, I’d recommend GoDaddy Hosting or Hostgator Hosting, but that’s just personal preference.
Next is what you will use to build your software. Website builders are now advanced and easy to use. They are also, in many cases, free. All you need is a bit of a flair for the design and you can just use the building blocks to put your site together.
There are many good choices for website builders like Wix, Weebly and more which also package in domain names and hosting, if you are looking for an all-in-one solution.
Another option that I highly recommend you explore is WordPress.org. This application has tons of themes that you can use to design any space you want. More importantly, the WordPress ecosystem There are a huge number of plugins that you can use to perform the additional functions your site should have (more on this later).
WordPress also has a benefit originally intended as a Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to use content to grow site traffic.
Adding Features to Your Real Estate Site
You know the first impression count. If you can’t show a property in all its magnificent glory in a beautiful way on your site, well, you won’t get very far.
Most home buyers are in a kind of dreamy situation when they are looking for something to buy. I call it honeymoon syndrome and even a seasoned home buyer is susceptible to it. They are building a dream in their mind – can you fulfill it?
Of course, investors aren’t likely to fall for that, but who knows, right?
It also goes without saying that you need to have good pictures of the properties you have listed. Again, according to NAR data, of consumers using the internet during their home search, 89% found images about properties for sale helpful.
I’m not talking about a simple search box where users can type something in and scan your site, but something that contributes to how most users search in real life.
For example, they are likely to want properties in specific areas, between certain price ranges or even in a certain number of bathrooms. Make sure they find what they’re looking for!
Be Mobile Friendly
I’m sure you’ve experienced surfing a site on your mobile device and searching that may seem awful and misunderstood. That’s because the site is probably not mobile friendly. Mobile devices are small and websites usually don’t perform well on small screens.
Whichever tool you choose to build your site, keep in mind that ultimately, your site should be mobile-friendly. According to Statista, since early 2017, the number of people accessing the web from mobile devices has continued to exceed 50%.
Developing a site that is also not mobile-friendly is likely to alienate half of your potential clients!
As real estate agents, I’m sure you know the needs of most people looking for a property. Remember the sales pitches you had to run every time? Good.
Transfer that knowledge to your website. Aside from just the information about the property itself, remember to provide complete support information, such as nearby amenities, highways and education zones.
For investors, be sure to provide some form of market reports as they are likely to be of interest.
Allow Quick Follow Up
All this while I am sharing information with you on how to set the hook. Providing information and having good site designs is a must, but don’t forget to set the hook! Always have an easy option for the prospective client to contact you.
For websites, that’s what we call action. For example, a bright red button that says, “Call Now!” Will only appear to your users. Or maybe a link in your email for them to make an inquiry? Always find it close to where a prospective buyer may be standing on the verge of deciding.
Again, this is something you may or may not be doing but let me put it this way – If your prospective buyers are not listening to you, you can be sure they are listening to someone else. Instead, go ahead and give them the information they need to make good purchasing decisions.
Tell them the benefits of buying in some places for example, or this house is near a wonderful shopping mall with everything under the sun. Let them know how easy it is to access a major interstate highway or anything that helps.
Market Your Real Estate Website
Just because you have a website doesn’t mean you can just let it sit there and expect customers to come flooding. Remember that N + 1 I just mentioned a few paragraphs above? That fact remains, and you need to make sure your website is visible.
Social Media Marketing
This is an aspect of marketing that has revolutionized the last few years. Social Media is taking up so much advertising space that many traditional businesses just crumble. Make sure you use it by choosing a Social Media platform to focus on and use that to promote your website and engage with prospects.
Social Media is more fluid and interactive than websites, so you can brush up on your personality by interacting with them. They are also great for creating hype and excitement, so consider running tournaments or simple giveaways. Remember the open house shows you were doing? Social Media promotions are exactly that, even in digital form.
If you use Facebook as your chosen Social Media platform, you will have an added advantage – Chabot’s. These automated response systems are an upcoming form of powerful communication tool that will help you win more customers.
Done the right way, you can leverage on free (in some cases) and powerful bots to offer consumer information, speed up response times and generally, act while you’re otherwise is covered. Read more about marketing chatbots here.
All of this adds up and when redirected to your website which will have more comprehensive information, you are a winner.
Search Engines and SEO
Search Engines and SEO
One of the easiest ways to get a little more traffic is to make sure you list your website in the search engine directory. Make sure all your content is indexed by good people on Google or Bing and helps you when people are looking for services like yours. Best of all, these listings are free.
In the development of this however, one thing is very important: Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
When building your website content, make sure you watch keywords that clearly identify your beauty, such as: Real Estate, Property, or other similar terms
By now I’m sure many of you are getting a little dizzy. Yes, I admit that there is a lot for a first-timer to understand but relax and deep down. While this may all sound the way your field of expertise is, I assure you it is not.
Owning and maintaining your real estate website is one of the least important things in the field of business. It represents your customer’s professionalism, fortitude, reputation and many other things – all of which are good.
Take a little time to work on this as a side project and you’ll never regret it. Building websites and other related activities is also a MANY thing, so there is help around if you are only looking for it when needed. It may take you some time and – I can’t even gloss over it – some destruction, but isn’t everything in life an educational experience? Make that experience work to your advantage and get a leg up on today’s competition.