Real Estate business is a particular case when it comes to website development. For the time being, although it is not a business that can be said to be suitable for e-commerce, we should say that it is suitable (and very suitable) for e-marketing.
For the time being, it is hard to imagine someone's actually buying or renting a house online: browsing homes online, finding one he likes, and clicking the “add to cart” button, entering his credit card or bank account, filling out the online form, and announcing the date on which he wants to move into his new home. At this time, after seeing all I have seen happening with the internet revolution, I definitely will not be the one who says “that will never happen”. In fact, I think it will happen, but I do not think it will happen soon. So for the time being, real estate business usage of the internet is mainly focused on marketing and promotion.
In marketing and promotion, real estate business is perhaps one of the most classical businesses that takes great advantage of internet marketing (along with the car business).
If you ever have been through the process of buying or renting a house, you know that it takes time - a lot of time - to visit houses. Most people work during the day, and visiting houses during the night is not possible. Most prospective buyers and renters have to leave that task for weekends. That reduces the number of houses a buyer or renter can visit. For that purpose, internet marketing is great. It will provide your customers with 24 hours a day, 7 days a week access to your home database. They can check it from every place, from their work place, at lunch time, from a cybercafé, and from their homes at night. When planning your project development and how you will export it into the internet, you have to take care to focus on the right place. That means, you have to think carefully about the intended audience and what will they be looking for.
It’s a good idea to focus oin your area of influence. If you are a real estate agent in a certain area, you will be more interested in people looking for houses in your area, and not in people from other areas.
I mean, the best thing would be for everyone to reach your site, but unfortunately that’s generally not possible, so you will have to take the people looking for houses in your area. If you have multiple areas of influence, then you should think about having multiple sites, each one for each area, at least as entrance points. The backend can be the shared by all your sites, but it is better to have one site for each area as an entrance point.
As in every web design project, the first thing you have to take care of is your site’s content. Real Estate sites have one rule of thumb: “Lots of photos and more photos”. The power of the internet for the real estate business is given by home photos.
There is a marketing strategy change here that you will have to get use to. Unlike printed and traditional marketing strategies, you don’t have a limit to the photos you can show on the internet. If you have the proper storage size in your affordable website, you won’t pay more for publishing fifty photos of a house than publishing one, while in traditional marketing, like newspapers, magazines and even TV, you face that limit.
You should not limit the number of pictures, the more the better, but you should also pay special attention to image quality. A house shown in a fuzzy, and unclear image will probably not be too attractive to customers. A dark house will not attract anyone. You have to pay special attention to that. Images are your marketing material. A professional photographer that will be an investment that will give you good returns. You should think about incorporating views from every angle, the kind of photos that provide a complete view of a room which is inviting to see. Videos can be incorporated too.
While photos are the core of the info you should show, your affordable website should have other accompanying data as well. Information about the home is essential. Clear and complete information should be provided among the pictures, together with a brief caption beneath each picture, information about the neighborhood, and what services the area provides. This is essential info every home should have - schools, buses, shopping, police stations, fire stations, etc. The best way to do this is by avoiding free text and modeling the data in as structured a way as possible. You will define certain attributes that each home for sell or rent should have, like its total floor area, number of bedrooms, number of bathrooms, etc.
A map is also a good idea. Remember, the more info you provide the better. If someone is not interested in it, he just won’t visit it, saving you and him time.
It’s always a good idea to provide a floor plan of the house when available, and when not available to take some time to draw one with one of the many floor plan drawing tools that are available online. An important thing I have noticed in several real estate sites is pricing update. Real estate business is generally a long term business. By long term, I mean that a house might take several months to be sold, and the asking price might change.
You should regularly check your home database and prices in order to be sure they are up to date. It’s not nice for a customer to ask for a house and then find that the house now costs more or less than it did.
Trust is a key feature when thinking about the design of your site. The person looking for a new home is looking for more than design; he is looking for a new life, a good one, a happy one. You should try to reflect that with a solid design.
As in any business, you should also think about all the related business you are in or will provide. In this case maybe you provide or have a partner who provides interior design services, or construction companies that work with you, or mortgage loan providers. You should have a place in your for other services.
For example, if you provide or have a provider of mortgage loans, incorporating an affordable mortgage loan calculator in your site is definitely a good idea. It’s very easy to implement. There are lot of calculators around there (of course you set interest rates and all the specific related info), and generally mortgage lenders do provide such calculators, too.
Regarding technical aspects of a real estate site, the host you select should have three main aspects: internet connection speed, disk storage size, and reliable database support.
If a user is convinced by your real estate website design that you have a property which is suitable for them, he is likely to get in touch with you over the internet itself. It is important that a well designed and detailed form be made available to capture such potential customers for your affordable website. The form should be customized to contain relevant real estate information of the user.
The overall look of a real estate website design should be lively and informative. Such sites also need a well defined search engine marketing plan in order to stand out among the heavy competition faced by them. Affordable eal estate website design can be done easily by most web designers. It is the role of the customer to provide the web designer updated information and real estate images which can be featured on the website.
As in every image-intense site, internet speed and storage size are mandatory. Your database will have lot of info, and it should be well organized and structured. You will have to define strong backup policies in order to assure your data preservation. An affordable tool you should definitely have in a good real estate site is a powerful search feature. You should allow your customers to search for as many and variable fields as he wants, and, most importantly, to retrieve data consistent with what he wants. Mailing lists are also a good service to provide. House selling and renting are a long term business. Iit takes some time for a customer to decide which house to buy, so you should think about tracking customers constantly. Mailing lists will provide you a way to keep your customers updated and to know their status, too.
A last warning: based on my experience, beware of data extraction. It’s a VERY common thing for competitors to extract data from your website in order to use it for their own purposes, so you should think about the impact that might have and take actions to prevent it.
Buying a house is no child’s play and a person is likely to spend a good time researching his options on the internet. A good real estate website design should also provide for a layout of the property so that the potential buyer can get a good idea of what is on offer and understand the space management of the property. The idea for real estate website designs is to be an information delivery method which is instantaneous and can deliver to people all across the globe.