For the past year, I have had a number of agents come to us from inexpensive $5.00 and $10.00 a month sites who were upset about the money they put into those sites, only to get a site that ran slower and slower every month and was very limited on what they could really do, in return. Though these inexpensive sites might be okay for a part time agent, full time agents should make a stronger investment when it comes to something that will represent them in their market.
There are a number of Real Estate solutions out there for agents to shuffle through, but if you're really looking for a solid Real Estate website, then you might want to take a few things into consideration.
Below is my list of the top 5 items to look for in your Real Estate website platform. Please note that these are not the top 5 things that you should do to get leads to your site, nor are these the top 5 marketing or social media tips. Those should come later. Just like building a home, you first need a solid foundation, or in this case, a solid platform for your website.
1. Customer Services: Your website provider should be there to respond to your questions or concerns within 24 hours. They should also be willing to give you some advice on your site and its performance, or at least where to look to find that advice. You should always have a way to contact them via phone, as there are some issues you just can't get a good understanding of through email or online support.
2. Website Freedom: You should have control over your website, the content, design and your marketing. Don't put all of your eggs in one basket! Make sure you have the right to hire and fire whom you wish when it comes to your website marketing, SEO and design. You don't want to put a lot of time into a site only to have to move the entire website just because you didn't like the company's SEO or marketing tactics. Make sure the platform you are on is flexible enough to advance with technology and can support responsive designs. (Designs that morph to the display of the users device, such as a smart phone.)
3. Speed: Overcrowded web servers can be the death of all your hard work and investments! If the server that your website is on is overcrowded, it will become very slow and your site will take a hit from search engines. Not to mention, your clients will not want to wait around for the site to load and this could cause them to move on to one of your competitors. A web companies servers should not service more than 100 sites.
4. Integrated IDX: Your IDX (MLS data) and website should be integrated for speed, flexibility and security. You can do so much more with your website if the IDX and the platform are built together. I am not saying that other solutions are not okay to use, I am just pointing out that a true Real Estate website will have the IDX integrated into the platform, along with social media, Google Analytics and SEO tools.
5. Growth: A good Real Estate website platform will allow you to grow your business into a team, or even a brokerage. The one thing you don't want to have to do is build up your website only to have to move everything when/if you become a broker or have a number of offices. Make sure the site has a way to manage leads and a way to qualify the leads. My Dad always said that he would rather see 10 leads a week come from his website that were truly looking for a home in his area, than to get 300+ random/junk leads that he had to shuffle through in order to maybe find 1. To him, his time was better spent showing property and not filtering out junk leads. A good Real Estate platform can do just that.
I have found that these are the top five items to look for when making a decision on your Real Estate platform. I know there are other topics, but they are not nearly as important as these top five.