Here’s a real estate website I worked on recently. The site’s concept is to help sell houses by offering a video commercial about the property, complete with professional voice work and property details. This might not sound revolutionary but real estate sites tend to be very dry, information packed affairs.
Typically, if a real estate agent has a page of their own within a real estate company website, it is unreachable by a general Google search and/or you can only get their name and phone number from the website. There is no place to add a video for a certain property or customize anything for any agent. I have yet to see a real estate company allow their agents to use their website to help them stand out from the crowd of other real estate agents.
It’s a shame, really. Those websites are made primarily for other real estate people to browse and NOT for their target user. Yes, shoppers want to know how many bedrooms and acreage and so on, but they also want to know about the feel of the place. How’s the traffic? Where’s the closest market and gas station? Are there cultural places and events nearby? Is the neighborhood friendly or does everyone keep to themselves, mostly? In short, regurgitating the MLS information and adding a few photos is not really enough to entice a buyer. Adding a professionally produced video is a step in the right direction.
So here were my parameters:
1. A black background. I incorporated a blurred and seamlessly tiled local map faded into the black to reinforce the impression of property and real estate. It’s subtle but should serve to take the site seriously as a real estate resource.
2. Offer contact information for real estate agents to contact the videographer and get videos done for their properties. The header and footer accomplish this, plus the home page tells about the video process and what to expect. The home page even shows a random video with a few details and links to its property detail and real estate company pages.
3. From the home page, visitors should be able to shop for property by real estate company. This helps the site being built with name recognition plus it promotes the companies themselves.
Each company has a dedicated page. Currently, I have installed only four properties in two different counties, all under the CMK Real Estate Page. The page lists details about the company along with the properties available.
Each property listed has an image and the location listed beneath. Clicking on the picture takes you to the property detail page.
4. In addition to searching by company, I was also asked to provide a way to search by county. The area this site covers (at this stage) are four counties in upstate New York, namely Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery and Saratoga counties.
Each county page shows the New York state map with the county location, a link to more information about the county and the properties available with picture, location and real estate company logos. There’s also some text about each county discussing local attractions, amenities and history (which is good for both potential buyers and search engines.)
Again, clicking the picture link takes you to its property detail page.
5. The property detail pages, like this one, have all the standard information for contacting the real estate agent and the property information like number of bedrooms, school district and acreage. The company logos are displayed prominently and link back to the company’s page to promote browsing within the company’s offerings. The property detail page also shows pictures and the property video.
All of the text would be indexable by search engines and all the pages would be fully optimized for them. This is important. Say you drive by a property and see a for sale sign; you jot down the address and then search for it online. Typically, you don’t get the real estate details of the address you searched unless the property is being handled by a very well known company.
Most real estate sites offer a few pictures but this property detail page is flexible. It can be customized to include a hundred pictures, drawings, multiple videos and tons more information. It would be nice to include a quote by the current homeowner about the nice things they’ve enjoyed about the property.
6. The header image was provided after the initial site layout and colors were chosen. It may need to be recreated wider and its colors integrated into the website more fully. The colors and look of the header graphic should also be repeated in the footer. That’s something I will discuss with the site owner after he looks it over.
7. What else needs to be done? There are various possible features that could be added, such as a contact-the-realtor button. The only thing is that real estate companies usually (and severely) restrict how leads come in, so I’ll add features as requested.
Other features such as SEO tweaks, Facebook Like buttons and social media integration should be standard additions to all pages but this site is still in beta. Once it goes live with the final tweaks and finalized layouts, these sorts of things will be added where most appropriate.