Real Estate Websites: Are they Extremely Competitive, or The Most Competitive?
To say that ‘Real Estate is – and always will be – a competitive field’ is to understate it. It’s “competitive” on steroids! Technologies that, in one way or another, facilitate buying and selling, are evolving quickly, as are client expectations, and you can see that reflected in some of more state-of-the-art real estate websites.
So what features should today’s Realtor have on his/her website? The obvious is, at the very least, you need:
- Info for buyers/renters: Property listings with photos and stats;
- Info for sellers;
- Contact info; and
- An attractive home page.
Of course, many agents have added all manner of gizmos, calculators, and research tools. For example, you may find tools to research neighborhoods, calculate interest rates and mortgage payments, rate schools, and selling prices for comparable properties. One can argue about whether including these gizmos is useful or just adding clutter.
Here are five advanced features that we think users will come to expect from real estate websites:
- Mobile Optimization – Your clients aren’t just doing their homework on their desktop and laptop computers anymore. Particularly in the realm of real estate, people are out and about. They’re out looking at residences and office space and they’re viewing your properties on their smart phones and tablets. If they have to continually pinch, zoom, and pan to read your listings, they’re going to be annoyed.In fact, technology research giant Gartner predicts that 2013 will be the year in which smart phone and tablet devices overtake PCs as the way most people are accessing the web. And, with that, there is a growing expectation that your site will be optimized for smaller screens.
- Instant Mapping and One-Click Calling for Mobile – Now that you’ve created a mobile site, it’s time to take advantage of the technology. Smart phones and tablets have built-in GPS and mapping features. Why not make it easy for a prospective buyer/renter to find your listed properties? It’s actually pretty easy to link your properties to code that ties them to their phones’ mapping applications, which can then also generate directions.
Likewise with One-Click Calling, which gives the mobile user, at the click of a button, the ability to call you with news (e.g., “We’ve made a decision!”) or questions (e.g., “Is my particular type of business allowed in this zone?”).
- Property Search with Tool to Sort & Filter listings – Virtually all real estate sites include property listings. But not all give users the ability to sort those listings (e.g., show me properties sorted from least expensive to most) or filter (e.g., show me properties with at least 2,500 sq. ft. of office space that are $30 or less/foot). Today’s real estate shopper expects this tool.
- Customized Back End – When you get a new listing, you want it up on your site immediately. Likewise, when a property goes under contract or sells, you need to make that update right away. In most cases, it’s up to you and your firm to keep your website up to date. The question is, how difficult is that? With today’s Content Management Systems, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be easy for you and your team to have a tool that’s customized for your needs and for easy updating. Delivering updated information in real time is the goal; these tools are designed to make it easy.
- Enhanced Picture and Video Content – Today’s property shoppers are expecting to find more than just a single featured image for each property on your site. They expect to see exteriors, interiors, and perhaps even short video tours.
So Realtors, when you’re ready to take a look at your site, make sure these items are on your agenda. And, by all means, call us… we can help!