Real estate agents are receiving an ever increasing number of leads through social media and the web as prospective buyers research the market on the Internet. In order to stay competitive, real estate agents need an attractive web presence which drives business even as they sleep.
In this article:
- How To Cut The Costs Of Web Development And Maintenance
- Best Premium Themes for Real Estate Websites
How To Cut The Costs Of Web Development And Maintenance
Many real estate agencies are paying web designers hefty fees for custom-made websites only to discover how expensive this really is once they request some extras (adjustments of the original concept) or once decide to move their business elsewhere. If you were lead to believe that you must shell out thousands of dollars for a custom made website which no one except your own web developer knows how to maintain, relax. You can cut the costs of web development by using prepackaged themes running on top of a open source CMS engine.
One of the best ways to cut the costs of web development and maintenance and still get to fully control your own website, is to set up a content-management system such as WordPress–the popular blogging software can very much serve real estate agent’s listings–and then furnish it with a ready-to-go theme designed from the ground up for real estate. Once you know what you want, an experienced web developer can complete this setup within less than two hours or you could also do it yourself if you really want to.
This way, you will be able to tweak settings through your own administrative interface: manage agents’ accounts, add listings and other content.
Using an off-the-shelf theme does not preclude you from having your own custom adjustments (it is not difficult and your web developer will be more than happy to show off her skills).
Tip: If you solicit the services of a web professional, make sure they “harden” your WordPress installation (this means that they make it more hacker-proof with a few little tricks).
Best Premium Themes for Real Estate Websites
A professional web theme can cost as little as $35 and serve you for years. Themes can offer powerful customization options which do not require coding, for example by means of so-called widgets (little graphical elements such as text boxes, calenders or calculators you can drag and drop around in the admin area to customize a web page). Many also offer skins, predefined optimized visual interfaces which allow you to change the appearance of your website with the click of a button and without paying for any more code.
A few such themes are truly remarkable for their design and/or flexibility.
The WP Pro Real Estate 2 WordPress Theme ($35) by contempoinc is one of the most advanced themes out there but not the most jaw-dropping one. The design does look a bit bare-bones out of the box. But it has a lot to offer.
WP Pro Real Estate 2 offers, among other things, a powerful search in listings, custom Agent profiles (obviously, the relevance of an agent’s commission wasn’t lost on the developers), and Google Maps integration. This cutting-edge theme supports custom menus of the most recent generation of WordPress (number 3.x as of this writing).
WP Pro Real Estate 2 uses a modern, future-proof code base (HTML 5 and CSS3). This is a big plus for modern browsers but can be a drag on older ones such as Internet Explorer prior to version 8, but then again, you can’t have it both ways.
You also get top notch support and free theme updates for life.
The OpenHouse Real Estate theme for WordPress ($35) by BuchmannDesign comes in a bundle so you actually get two editions of the theme: one for a real estate brokerage and one for an auto dealership.
It sports a built-in loan calculator, Agent-specific listings, a Google maps widget for each listing (no API key needed) and unlimited color schemes for easy adjustments. It is geared towards the most recent version of WordPress (3.x) with support for features such as custom post types. With an optional log-in form you can even allow sellers to post their own listings all by themselves.
The Real Estate Theme by designspike is not only elegant but also compatible with a wide range of modern and legacy browsers, giving your website the biggest exposure. It can show the status of your listings such as New, Reduced Price, Rented and Sold.
This theme packs a lot of content onto a small piece of screen real estate.
How To Set Up a Real Estate Website By Yourself
For those of you who follow the do-it-yourself approach, here is a recap of how to set up a website for a real estate agency you can control:
- Get a hosting package which supports WordPress (the principle is the same for other content management systems, but you need different themes).
- Install WordPress: this is usually a one-click affair using features such as Fantastico in cpanel. (If the theme doesn’t work out of the box, you need to correct file system permissions)
- Buy a theme for WordPress, for example from themeforest.com.
- Upload the theme to your server, log in to WordPress, activate the theme and go through the configuration (in most cases, you can add your own logo this way).
- Begin populating your theme with property listings, including photos and videos where appropriate.
- Mission accomplished!
No, you are never actually done. The listings keep coming!
You might also want to read this: How to Give Your Property Listings More Exposure And Find Buyers/Deals Quickly