ORLANDO — Thanks to a booming economy that’s brought the unemployment numbers to record lows, today record numbers of Americans are looking for a home.
But the methods they’re using to search for a home sure have changed. Not so long ago, when a prospective buyer wanted to find their dream home, they called a real estate agent and told them what kind of home, price range and neighborhood they were looking for.
Or they might have driven to the neighborhood of their choice and looked around to see which homes had “For Sale” signs.
Then came the internet, and with it, an explosive change in the way people conduct their searches. Now virtually all prospective buyers visit online real estate listings services, type in what they want, and search from the comfort of their home. They can even take a virtual tour of the homes they’re interested in.
But that doesn’t mean that real estate agents and builders have been cut out of the process. Their knowledge and expertise in drawing up complex contracts that meet all state and federal regulations, ability to keep the process of securing a mortgage a smooth and efficient one, and their ability to represent the interests of the buyer all help factor into this process.
With so much stiff competition out there, Realtors and builders alike need one thing to be truly successful in 2019, and that’s a great website that helps showcase their experience, skill and proven track record.
What Are Smart Ideas for Enhancing Your Real Estate Website?
Searches on Google related to real estate and home buying have grown by a whopping 253 percent in the past few years, the National Association of Realtors reported after completing a joint study with Google.
But online technology doesn’t have to take business away from Realtors or builders – it can just as easily be used to help drive your success. What all agents need today is the ability to deliver relevant information to prospective buyers through illuminating and instructive websites, video tours of homes, and mobile applications.
There’s no reason why they can’t be a full partner in the world of digital house hunting.
But what does it take to ensure your website is taking buyers from their initial search engine to making your website the one they come to rely on, trust, and recommend to others? In 2018-2019, 90 percent of home buyers will search for a home online. And today, most real estate agents have a website. But you don’t want it to just sit there with no one visiting it.
Here are some great examples of effective websites for real estate agents and builders, that will help you attract more leads.
What Makes a Real Estate Website appealing?
Sheerin Feizi Group of Delray Beach, Florida has a very visually appealing website.
It uses strong rotating visuals of their homes to attract those who first land on their site, capturing the front of homes, the interiors, and the neighborhoods they’re built in. It allows for a quick search of the property types buyers are looking for (including single family homes, condos, multifamily developments, rentals and commercial properties), by location, and for their price range.
You can sign up for email updates, check the value of your home, and get information on relocation assistance. The website is easy to navigate, and provides prospective buyers and sellers with the tools they need for their search.
The Home Search tool is key. Make it as convenient for them as possible, but try also to give them as many options for matching their interests.
Easy Navigation, User-Friendly
The website for Scot Karp is also very effective. There are social sharing buttons on the top of the page, and a search bar prominently close to the top for finding homes.
That’s important, because putting that information Above the Fold ensures that your visitors know what kind of site they’re on without having to scroll down the page.
The site also allows you to explore the neighborhoods in South Florida that Karp covers, and clicking on any one of them provides a wealth of information. That includes a description of the community itself to appealing photos and a list of the properties available there for sale.
The site allows visitors to take a tour of the neighborhood they want to buy in.
Easy navigation is a key for real estate websites. You want home buyers or sellers to have no trouble whatsoever locating the information they need, and you don’t want your site to look cluttered or confusing.
Focus on the Niche Market
EWM Realty International has some truly stunning visuals of the interiors of their homes, ones that almost certainly help entice the visitor to remain on the site. EWM appeals to a very niche market, and visitors can check out very specialized listings in categories that include waterfront living, golf & tennis, island living, luxury homes, ultra-luxury homes, and even equestrian communities.
Clicking on any one of these shows the visitor a map of the region where homes fitting into that category are located, along with EWM’s listings.
If you also appeal to a specialized market, EMS offers a great example of what a successful niche website looks like. It provides the big picture their unique audience is looking for.
Establish Your Brand
The New York–based agency CORE has a series of videos on their landing page, that quickly capture the visitors’ attention and makes them want to learn more. It’s a unique approach that works quite well for them.
The videos are quite appealing because they’re very professionally done. They introduce us not just to the CORE team (seen arriving at, and then working at, their office), but also how they lead buyers through some amazing luxury homes. The videos also offer visitors an appetizing glimpse of scenes from Manhattan as well.
CORE also has a designation at the top of the site, noting that they are the No. 1 real estate brokerage firm in Manhattan, specializing in the sales and marketing of premier residential properties. They proudly state their brand and why customers turn to them.
And at a time when websites often try to cram too much information onto the landing page, CORE is effectively minimalist. At the bottom of the page is a list of “Where You Can Find Us,” with the addresses of their five offices in the city, and that’s it.
Making Your Team a Key Focus
Some real estate websites focus on showing us the homes they’re marketing, while other sites focus on the appealing lifestyle choices within the communities they cover.
But another smart way to stand out is to put a focus on your team – to build your reputation through the trust and professionalism that your agents inspire in buyers.
The Goodhart Group employs this tactic on their website, branding their agents as a critical selling point, and making them as much of a key feature to their brand as their listings.
They also show visitors featured listings, a blog with helpful information about buying and selling, and facts, photos and figures about the neighborhoods in Northern Virginia that they cover.
But they’re also unique for letting agents with more than two decades of experience become a key selling point to buyers and sellers alike.
What Are Great Things To Remember Before the Redesign?
It’s important to keep in mind that website designs for real estate firms has become extraordinarily sophisticated today. Digital marketers can now help guide real estate agencies and builders on ways to employ tools that help them not only find leads, but also convert them to loyal customers.
Graphics, videos, blogs, and navigational schemes are all being used to take full advantage of the unlimited possibilities that the internet offers today.
Buyers and sellers are increasingly sophisticated as well, and they know how to conduct searches on their own. Today consumers are doing a lot of research on their laptops and smart phones before making any decisions about buying a property or selling one.
And it’s amazing how much information a buyer can find online about multiple homes, neighborhoods and developments — without visiting any of them.
That means Realtors and builders need to be creative – and to provide their customers with the information they need, but to do it in a way that’s visually appealing and draws site visitors in.
Here are a few other tips to consider when creating your site.
1. Remember your SEO keywords
You want to be sure your website has the right keywords, so think about what your customers are likely to be searching for on Google. That could include keywords related to prince range, the size of a home, the neighborhood, amenities within the development, and so on.
2. Offer content
Videos, blogs, social media posts and email campaigns are all effective tools for showcasing different types of content categories that help provide your customers with the information and facts they’re looking for. Be certain that you’re employing highly focused, specific categories of content, and not information that’s so broad that it isn’t likely to find its way to the top of the search engines.
3. Don’t forget about mobile devices
Make sure you have a responsive design, and a website that’s viewable on mobile devices and is very mobile friendly. Otherwise, you’re missing out on the customers who conduct searches on the smart phone, and there are plenty of them out there today.
4. Get key information from your leads
You want to be sure visitors provide you with key information, so remember to give them an opportunity to provide that to you. A proven method is to provide them with the option of signing up for free resources on your website. In order to get specific information, all they have to do is enter in their name, email address, etc. This enables you to create a list of potential customers.
Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the book “Of Cats And Wolves.” Contact him at Freelineorlando@gmail.com.