How to build a real estate website the easy way

Designed to sell

Make sure the house smells amazing. Strategically place plants and flowers. Offer a free truck to move. Get professional photography. All are great tips to help you sell your latest listing. But today’s real estate shoppers have more choices than ever to find their next home. How do you get them to your doorstep? More often than not they’re turning to search engines to find the right home, the right agent and the right finance package. That’s why it’s time to build a real estate website that will make your property the right pick.

An amazing real estate website helps you capture the attention of these new prospects in the market, as well as keep the attention of existing customers who are in the market for a new home.

Forty-four percent of all buyers looked online for properties for sale as the first step in their home-buying process, compared with only 17% who contacted a real estate agent as the first step. Ninety-three percent of all homebuyers overall used an online website in their home search — including 99% of millennials and 90% of older baby boomers.

Everything you need to build a real estate website

In this guide, we’ll review how to build your website using easy-to-use real estate website builders and templates, as well as the key features your website needs to win over the competition.

Here are the topics we’ll cover:

Related: How to start a real estate business in 10 steps

How to build a real estate website

While you’re an amazing real estate agent or broker, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to have the necessary tech skills to build a real estate website. And since you’re busy showing homes, writing contracts and marketing new listings, you probably don’t want to take the time to get those tech skills.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t have a website that reflects your business acumen and lays the foundation for your real estate business.

Before you build your site, you’ll need two things: a domain name and hosting.

 

Once you have these two components, you can decide if you’d like to build your own real estate website, or work with a website designer to build it for you. If you want to be in control of your website layout, content and design, you may want to use a DIY real estate website builder. It’s also a lower-cost way to build your own website than hiring a custom website designer.

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Buying a domain for your real estate website

Before you start building your new real estate website, you’ll need a domain name. The domain name is what people type into the address bar of their browser to get to your website — like godaddy.com.

Buying a domain name is straightforward, especially when you use a trusted domain registrar. Whether you choose to purchase your domain through GoDaddy or another company, make sure that the registrar:

  • Is accredited by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which is the governing body over domain name registrars.
  • Gives you full control over your domain. Some registrars will retain partial control, including adding their own contact information to part of the domain registration (making it hard to transfer it to a different registrar), or preventing you from pointing your domain to your desired hosting provider.
  • Provides high-quality support when you need it. Although you never expect something to go wrong, your registrar should be there to help you troubleshoot if it does. Verify customer service availability — before you buy! — so you don’t miss valuable traffic and customers because of a challenge with the registrar.
  • Offers additional domain options and pricing. Your domain is not likely to be the biggest expense of your real estate website. In fact, most domain extensions are available for $20 or less per year. There are other features like domain privacy, theft protection and automatic renewal to consider when picking a registrar.

Related: How much does a domain name cost?

Choosing a domain name

Even with all of these considerations, the hardest and most important part is picking the right domain name for your real estate website.

You want your domain name to:

1. Be short and sweet. Your domain name isn’t the time to roll out your best puns. Save those for the open house!

You want your domain to be easy to remember, say and spell.

 

You’ll use it throughout your marketing — from bus shelters to radio ads and, of course, those “For Sale” signs in front of all your listings.

2. Include your location. Including your location in your domain is useful for your customers and search engines. For example, you may be selling real estate in Loveland, Ohio, but if you’re not clear on your site, you may start getting questions from Loveland, Colorado. Some location-based domain extensions available now include .nyc, .boston and .la.

3. Use new domain extensions. If your area doesn’t have a location-based extension yet, you also can get creative using other new domain extensions including:

Related: Domain extensions guide: What you need to know before you pick a domain name

4. Be unique. It’s tempting when you see a competitor doing well to try to follow in their footsteps. Online, it’s even more important to be distinct. An online visitor can’t remember the smell of home-baked sugar cookies you bring to every open house (instead of the standard vanilla citrus trick simmering on the stove), so you need other elements of your site to stand out. This can include your domain and brand name.

Build A Real Estate Website Yellow Umbrella Different

Determining if your domain name is available

Once you’ve created a short list of potential domain names, it’s time to see what’s available. Unfortunately, just plugging it into your browser doesn’t always work. Sometimes domains are owned but still go to a “site not found” page because the owner hasn’t actually built their website.

To find out if your top domain choice is available, use the GoDaddy domain search tool. Enter your preferred domain name in the search bar and one of two things will happen:

  1. Your domain will be available. From here, you’ll be prompted to complete your domain registration and add it to your cart.
  2. Your domain will already be owned. If this is the case, you’ll get a list of similar suggestions to choose from. You can choose one of these domains that meets the criteria above, or you can start a new search with another domain from your list.

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Using a real estate website builder

If you’ve chosen to go the do-it-yourself route to build your real estate website, there’s good news. Unlike the real estate websites of 15 years ago, you don’t need an advanced degree or even a bunch of technical skills to use a website builder tool like the GoDaddy Websites + Marketing.

Website builders allow you to set up your new real estate website quickly, with templates designed and tested to work specifically for your business needs, like these real estate templates.

GoDaddy Websites + Marketing

GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing gives you all-in-one control of your website, from custom themes to mobile responsiveness, integrated SEO capabilities, royalty-free images, and email marketing tools to help you keep in touch with your clients.

Plus, the GoDaddy Websites + Marketing has integrated IDX capabilities to help your site visitors and customers find their new home faster and easier than ever before.

GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing brings all of these tools into one easy-to-use tool that you can even update from your mobile phone while you’re at an open house.

You won’t have to hunt for and configure plugins or pay for additional tools.

You can even get started with a free trial of GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing. Once you get started, all you need to do is choose from a variety of real estate website templates, personalize your details and images, and publish.

GoDaddy Sample Real Estate Template
Choose from a variety of beautiful real estate website templates with GoDaddy Websites + Marketing.

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Key features your real estate website needs

After you’ve picked your domain, secured hosting for your website and chosen a real estate website builder, the real fun of building your own website starts: developing content and adding features.

Think of it like actually starting to look at houses after you’ve narrowed down school districts, the number of bedrooms and the buyer’s price range.

Every real estate website should include:

  1. Searchable listings
  2. Photos
  3. Contact information
  4. Resources and content
  5.  Testimonials
  6. Mobile-responsive technology

Related: Easy real estate content marketing

Searchable listings

Today’s homebuyers are more empowered than ever. They aren’t just looking for validation about the real estate agent. They use online real estate sites to get information about available homes that they can choose from now.

By adding searchable listings to your website, you’re empowering potential buyers to research listings.

Feeling empowered gives them confidence in what they want to see, and saves you time in sharing listings that they may not be interested in.

When you’re developing your website, you should make sure that you integrate searchable listing tools, like the IDX tools available with the GoDaddy Websites + Marketing or MLS search tools.

Photos

Build A Real Estate Website House For Sale

“Beautiful three bedroom, two bath ranch with wood flooring and fresh paint throughout!” Every homebuyer who reads that description is going to have a very different vision of what that home looks like — from the color of the wood floors to the placement of the toilets in relation to the sinks.

Photos capture the imagination and passion of potential homebuyers in a way that no written description can.

 

And since 76% of all homebuyers found their home on a mobile device, your photos and photo gallery need to be accessible wherever your buyers are looking.

In addition to being able to search for available properties, your website should welcome visitors in with high-quality images from the moment they land on your website.

Beyond just adding photos, consider adding virtual tours and floor plans to your listings when possible. Fifty-two percent of homebuyers found online floor plans very useful, while 46% found virtual tours very useful.

Related: Real estate agents get ahead of the competition with visual search

Contact information

When a homebuyer is excited to see a house, they don’t want to have to wait for someone to respond to a contact form or dig around for contact information.

Make sure your contact information is easy to find when they’ve found the house they want. Don’t bury it or relegate it to a subsidiary page.

Instead, make sure your contact information is always visible on every screen. This may mean including your phone number in a sticky header as well as the footer of the website.

Also, give people many different ways to reach you. Some will prefer to text, while others want to talk over the phone. Others prefer email, even if it takes a little longer to get a response.

Resources and content

Whether your clients are buying their first house or their 10th, there are still resources that they need and things they can learn. Your website can and should give access to these resources including things like:

  • House-search checklists
  • How-to-find-a-lender guide
  • Links to school information
  • Regional event calendars
  • Utility information
  • Weather
  • Gardening
  • New housing developments
  • Government regulation changes

This is a great opportunity for you to introduce a blog to your real estate website. With a blog, you provide valuable information to your prospective, current and even past customers about the area in which you live, new developments, opportunities and more.

Having a blog gives you a reason to keep in touch with prospects and past customers so that when they are ready to make a purchase, you’re top of mind.

Creating these resources and blog posts establishes your expertise and helps you build trust with potential clients. You can write about virtually anything related to the home buying (and selling) process — from finding your first home, preparing your home for sale, and even local housing market reports. \

This range of content helps position your company as a local expert.

 

Plus, these additional resources and content that you’re posting create SEO value for your real estate website. Each new post encourages search engines, including Google and Bing, to revisit your site. You don’t have to blog daily (or even weekly) to reap these benefits.

One word of warning, however. Make sure that your content is accurate and error-free. This includes fact-checking your content as well as reviewing your grammar and punctuation with a tool like Grammarly. Errors in content or grammar can reduce the trust that you’ve been working on building with prospective clients.

Testimonials

Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions and transitions that will happen in someone’s life — financially and emotionally. Trusting the real estate agent or broker is key to reducing the stress that comes with this decision.

As a real estate company, your business depends on word-of-mouth advertising, recommendations and referrals. Testimonials from previous happy homebuyers help you build the trust of new buyers, even if they were referred by another previous customer.

What is a testimonial?

It’s simply a direct quote from a client about how great your business and service is.

 

They’re generally short and direct and accompanied by a photo of the happy buyer.

The good news is that it’s usually pretty easy to get a testimonial. You simply have to ask. To get a good testimonial, timing is key. The best moment is not long after a homebuyer has gotten the keys to their new home — but before they discover that their couch doesn’t quite fit under the window they way they expected.

One of the easiest ways is to send out a satisfaction survey with just a few short questions:

  • How do you like your new home?
  • How would you rate your experience in purchasing your new home?
  • Would you recommend our services to others? If so, why?

Of course, this survey also gives you the opportunity to address any challenges that may have come up through the purchasing and closing process.

Mobile-responsive technology

Build A Real Estate Website Man And Woman On Mobile

Today’s homebuyers don’t stay tethered behind their computer screens. They’re searching for a new home at brunch, at the gym or even on their lunch breaks at work. Sometimes they’re even looking up the website after they’ve driven past an open house sign in a desirable neighborhood. As of May 2019, web searches are happening more often on mobile than they are on desktop.

So, how do you capture that spontaneous website traffic?

You make sure your real estate website is responsive.

A responsive website adapts easily to different screen sizes. They are designed to work great on smartphones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers.

Your real estate website design should be responsive based on the builder that you choose. Builders like WordPress and GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing help you build a responsive website automatically, but you should be sure to test your website across a wide variety of devices to ensure it looks and behaves the way you want it to.

A responsive website doesn’t just enhance the experience for your prospective customers. A responsive real estate website design also helps you improve your search engine ranking, making it easier for homebuyers to find and choose you.

Additional real estate website features

Once you’ve covered the must-haves of your real estate website, there are also a few nice-to-haves to consider. These include:

CRM integration

A CRM (customer relationship management system) helps you stay in touch with your prospective, current and past client needs.

With CRM, you can track all of the details of how you met the prospect, what they’re looking for in a new home, their budget, and their timeline to purchase. You can even set it up to remind you when to follow up so you never miss an opportunity for a connection.

By connecting your CRM to your website, you can have new leads who request information about a listing get populated automatically into your CRM.

Related: How to connect WordPress to a CRM

Calculators

Money is everyone’s concern — from how much they can afford to how much their monthly payments are going to be. Integrating a calculator into your website is an advanced feature, but can also help you get and keep users on your website.

Chatbots

An integrated chatbot is a great way to build connections and generate leads for your real estate business. With today’s chatbot tools, you can set up automatic conversations using simple logic trees to engage customers when they’re most interested in getting more information.

Related: Best practices for online customer service

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Must-have real estate website design elements

Build A Real Estate Website Desk Hand Laptop

When you’re selling a house, it’s all about curb appeal. Well, curb appeal applies to your real estate website too!

Your website should immediately appeal to your target market with magnificent imagery, color choices and even typography that suit your industry and clients.

Beyond the visual appeal, your site also needs to be easy to use, provide social proof and provide lots of fresh, useful content.

Color choices and typography

Do you often work with laid-back families or high-powered corporate executives? The color choices and fonts that you use, as well as the images you select will connect you to the right customers while gently pushing the non-ideal away.

You may want to dip your toe into color psychology to pick the right colors for your business. To get you started, here are a few general guidelines for marketing in the United States:

  • Red: Energetic and a sense of urgency
  • Orange: Aggressive, call-to-action
  • Blue: Trustworthy, security
  • Green: Relaxing, wealth
  • Yellow: Optimistic
  • Pink: Romantic, feminine
  • Black: Powerful, luxurious
  • Purple: Soothing and calming, respect and wisdom
  • Grey: Practicality
  • White: Purity, cleanliness and safety

Related: How to choose brand colors and use them on your website

Easy to use

We’ve already talked about how important it is to have searchable listings on your website, but just plugging in a clunky search tool isn’t going to cut it.

From navigating to your site to finding your contact information, everything on your site needs to be easy to use.

As Steve Krug reminded us in his bestselling web usability book “Don’t Make Me Think,” the harder it is for users to achieve their goals on your website, the more likely they are to leave.

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Leveraging your real estate website to build your real estate business

Whether you’re planning to build a real estate website from scratch or optimizing and updating an existing website with new features and functionality, there are many more ways to use your website than just clicking publish.

If you’re using social media to market your real estate business, make sure you share links to your site on your social media channels, and link to your social media channels from your website.

You can share links to see new listings, check out your latest checklist or blog post, and even share new testimonials as part of your social media marketing strategy.

You should also update your email signature with your new website address, so it’s easy for clients and other professionals to reach your website whenever they need it.

This is also a great time to get new business cards. Yes, even in this era of instant messaging, texting, chatbots and social media channels, business cards still have a place in your marketing strategy.

Adding your website address to your offline marketing tools, from business cards to flyers and yard signs, lets customers access your website to browse new listings and learn from your expert blog posts.

Beyond just using your website to support clients you’ve already connected with, you can also use your website to reach new clients. Integrating an email list into your website allows you to drive visits to your properties and nurture relationships, building know-like-trust factors.

Ready to take the next step? Get started with a free trial of GoDaddy Websites + Marketing and a real estate website template. Start today, and have an amazing website in hours, not weeks or months.

Image by: Rustic Vegan on Unsplash