Real Estate Homepage

Is your Real Estate Site Homepage Really Serving your Customers?

The most important page in a website is none other than its homepage.

It is more than a page that introduces your business to the viewers as it actually works as a guide. If one gets lost, one can always go back “home” and start again.

It is also the most valuable page that glues the entire site together. It basically works as a tool for the users to get to the page or content they want to see.

In Real Estate, the homepage needs to be designed to address the interests of the visitor. Why are they even there? What do they want? Read our Complete Online Marketing for Real Estate to understand what they really want.

Buyers come to a real estate website to buy homes. Sure, they maybe on different levels on the decision making process spectrum but all the same, they are there to make a purchase – maybe in a few weeks or even a few months’ time.

They make their purchase decision after considering all possible options available for them. Possible options meaning price ranges, home specifications, location, commute time to and from work or school, security and ten to twenty to a hundred more decision making parameters.

So how can we help them in their quest? With the use of our site, of course!

Let’s start with the homepage. Here are some popular content and site functions you will observe in most real estate websites:

The Navigation Bar or the Menu

the-navigation-bar-or-the-menu

The menu or navigation bar is usually seen at the top of a real estate website. It typically has these items on them which are either hidden or perfectly shown:

  • Home and/or Logo to redirect directly to the homepage
  • Search (drop down for price range, communities)
  • Sales (recently sold homes)
  • Blog (blog area of the site)
  • About

Some other common items are tools such as Home Mortgage Calculators, Market Reports and a Sign-up | Login area which gives full access to the MLS and other restricted areas of the site.

Additional Navigational Experience

additional navigation

Most of the time items or content of the entire site can be cut to portions and displayed on the homepage as “teasers” of what the entire site actually contains.

Think of it like playlists. In iTunes, one can set up different playlists, right? The exact same thing goes for real estate websites. We can display homes in a variety of ways.

Some of these playlists are pre-made popular search criteria like Search by Price, Search by Area, Most Viewed Homes or Recently Listed Homes. You can cut up your library into as many playlists as possible.

In some recent sites we’ve made, we have even sliced them up into categories such as Search by Design and Search by Features.

This is an ideal way to set up the homepage as it allows the real estate agent to summarize the site and let the visitors proceed as they wish to other pages.

Some of these pre-made searches are more efficient over others. People would generally hit Search by Price much more than Search Homes by Design. So it’s better to place the more powerful search categories on top of the others for faster access to those pages.

An Overall Feel – The Intuition

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In a sense, Google, Yahoo and Bing all do the same thing – they reply to our search queries. Zillow.com, Homes.com and Trulia.com also kind of do the same thing. They display results of homes for sale with the specifications given by their users.

But how did it feel like while working on Google or Zillow? Why did they stand apart from the others by almost by a mile?

A good reply to this would be that the overall feel of using their search services are very satisfactory. We get answers quickly and accurately and their interface, though very simple, is effective.

Your site content may be amazing but if it does not feel right or if it seems out of place, then this may cause people to leave the site and not come back. Or yes, they may come back, but very reluctantly.

We want the homepage to have the right feel. First of all it should feel smooth i.e. no rough edges such as slow load speeds, errors, glitches and vague content.

Another element of amazing homepages is that they should allow for a deeper navigation within a few clicks.

It’s like a child jumping back and forth – almost predictable on the outcome and without breaking any sweat. It literally should be a “walk in the park.”

Here are a few considerations you should be aware of that can affect the smoothness and easiness of the homepage:

Fast Page Loads

page loads

Slow loading sites are a disservice to your customers. It’s like asking them to fall in line when they want your service right now. Remember, they will not wait for your site to load. Use Google Page Insights to check your homepage and have your developer score above 95% to ensure fast page loads.

Accurate Page Loads for Devices and Browsers

accurate page loads

Mobile and Browser site compatibility audit.

I do not use Safari much, but most of your customers do. You may not use an Android device but thousands of your customers do. Not having all devices and major browsers ready to display your content shows that you do not care enough.

Although this is a tiring and time-consuming process, we recommend using manual inspections. There are some programs that can help you detect non-compatibility but they have not been 100% accurate. In fact, they are still far from it.

Fast and Up-to-Date Search Results

search results

Overall Site Search Functions and updated MLS results.

Information is the agent’s biggest asset. Outdated information is not helping you be on top of your game.

Here’s a list of other contents and functions within the homepage that need attention:

  • Site layout
  • Font consistency
  • Proportionally sized fonts and divisions of the page
  • Organized Navigational Sections (Search by Price, communities etc…)
  • Brand Content (About, Testimonials, Reviews, Sales, other achievements)
  • Contact Tools (Newsletters, Contact Us forms, Phone Number, Google Maps with Address, social accounts, blog updates)
  • City/Town Content – Not just for SEO, this content should prove that your site is the #1 resource for home updates, community knowledge, and market knowledge.

Art is important but design is when art and functionalities meet to satisfy a specific need.

The visitors are not in the site to be wowed. They are there because the homepage offers a service to them. Ultimately, the homepage and the entire site is the tool that helps them make their buying process easier and more effective.

So keep on at that homepage to see better results.

Custom IDX for Real Estate

7 Advantages in Customizing MLS IDX For Real Estate Websites

In real estate websites, the MLS (Multiple Listings System) is the holy grail of information of homes available within the jurisdiction of the MLS provider. They contain updated information of all homes for sale, the information is precise and comprehensive.

Usually the MLS database consists of property

  • images
  • specifications
  • amenities
  • HOA information
  • prior sales records
  • current market status

and more. Here are other common functions of a real estate website.

This is a huge pool of information to tap into and there are two ways you can go about it.

Your web developer can pull this feed via IDX (Internet Data Exchange) protocol into your real estate website using the

  • Standard IDX also called the Matrix Tool by some MLS providers, usually provided by themselves, is more of a “plug and play” that embeds the feeds into the website.
  • Custom IDX (your own design specific pull from the MLS)

But here are 7 reasons why you should opt to use the MLS more towards your advantage through customization.

Advantage #1:  Branding

The best way to describe branding is this feeling we get, like an “aftertaste” we feel after having met someone, having worked with someone or by simply entering a store. Logos, color schematics and slogans are a part of branding but it is only superficial.

Logos, colors and slogans are “one-sided” i.e. it is a one way communication from the business. The bigger chunk of branding lies in how you handle yourself, how someone conducts themselves and their enthusiasm towards their profession and especially how customers perceives them. Its about their “aftertaste” of having been to a website.

When you customize your MLS, you are saying, “I am different” and “I care” about how I want to represent myself.  This is a powerful message you will be sending to your website visitors subliminally.

Advantage #2: SEO

Most standard IDX involves using Javascript which only embeds the information into your site. By using custom IDX, you can pull the feeds onto your own server and display them how you want. You can set them up as unique pages which is a marvel for SEO. However, you need to attempt to make these pages as unique as possible through Meta-data and descriptions.

Imagine ranking for property keywords or address searches in Google.  You can do this by customizing your IDX.

Advantage #3:  Social Media

Now, that you actually have a digital page on your website for each property, you then have the chance of using social media to share these homes. Using Standard IDX, this is not possible as the homes are actually digitally not present on your website.

Advantages #4: Sharing URLS / Refer Property functions

Once again, since you have a page per property, people can share/refer your property to others.

Advantages #5: Display preferences

Through Customization, you now have control on how you want to display your property pages, you can stack them differently, use the fonts of your choice and remove areas that are not necessary. You can add more information and brand them to look consistent.

Advantage #6: Mobile

In April 2015, Google already started to implement better rankings for websites that are mobile ready either through a .mobi or responsive websites.

By customizing the MLS, you can configure them to work on all mobiles for better interaction. Read Google Algorithm Update for Mobile Websites April 2015.

Advantage #7: Portal Functions

There are better ways to convert once someone signs up to see more information or saves a property while searching. Customized IDX for MLS also allows you to make your portal seem more fluid and interactive by applying creative conversion-driven functions that you can track using Google analytics.

Internet marketing in Real Estate is about information, take MLS information to a whole new level by having a custom IDX. It makes your website look superior and very modern. View Modern Real Estate Websites.

Modern Real Estate Websites

What differentiates a Modern Real Estate Website Design from an older one?

The answer is quite simple – just take a look. If you see too much text in small fonts, small thumbnail images, lavishly colourful themes in non-responsive layouts (site layouts that do not conform properly in mobile devices i.e. to read anything you will need to zoom for legibility of the text and images).

Modern Real Estate Websites differ from their older counterparts in their :

  • Graphics

The graphics in modern real estate websites are minimalistic in nature and stunning. The graphics and layouts of the website focus on a few things only, most importantly, in the images of the properties.

We want to be able to make the homes speak for themselves. The homepage, single property display pages and even search results show the importance of property images in a modern real estate website.

Apart from the images of the homes, building, apartment or commercial space, modern real estate website graphics focus in on the branding of the Real Estate Company, agent or boutique.

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  • Functionality

The modern real estate website is “armed-to-the-teeth” with customizable functionality.

    Modern Real Estate Websites from end users point of view
  • The MLS IDX is customized, they are made to work in mobile devices and to load at faster speeds.
  • Moreover, modern real estate websites are designed to have portals wherein people can
    1. Save properties,
    2. Compare properties,
    3. Chat with agents,
    4. Get open home schedules and information,
    5. Calculate mortgage information,
    6. View Location Maps
    7. Share and refer properties via social media or through email
    8. Receive alerts and notifications on properties and areas
  • View property videos and Advanced Virtual Tours of the homes
 Modern Real Estate Websites from admin point of view

Real estate websites these days, need to be highly competitive in Google. The SEO in these websites is usually well founded and this can be blended well into the designs without over-writing or by almost stuffing keywords.

Agents and Website Administrators find these functions useful in modern real estate websites,

  • Lead Management (CRM – Client Relation Manager)
  • Content Management (CMS – Content System Manager)
  • Newsletter Campaigns
  • Drip Email Marketing
  • Social Media Ready

  • Website Brand Tone and Themes

Modern Real Estate Websites have seamless, cohesive tones and themes in them. The branding, message and artwork is aligned immaculately for their audience.

A really good real estate website builds interest and they come off as looking very unique. Older real estate websites all tended to look the same. They all said the same things!

  • Website Goals

The new types of real estate websites have various goals. Their older counterparts just had 1 huge goal — sales.

These days, a good real estate website is designed intuitively and in anticipation that the target audience will not necessarily call or sign up right away.

Retargeting tools like Social Media Marketing and Newsletters are considered to be goals as well.

Other goals can be to

  • Increase Visibility Index in Google
  • Decrease Bounce Rates in landing pages
  • Minimize Exits and Drop-offs
  • Maximize time per session
  • Increase loyalty with old and new visitors
  • Get an App!
  • Accessibility

The biggest giveaway that a website is not new, contemporary or modern is that it is not readable in mobile devices. The entire pages of the website loads just like images. The user needs to pinch and zoom to read the content well. Modern real estate websites are responsive to mobile device screens. They are legible, readable and usable when the page loads without any need to zoom, scroll and pinch.

Of course, real estate applications for Android and iOS is getting extremely popular nowadays.

LVFH1

  • Intuitive Navigation

Over the years, internet marketers, web designers and coders have gotten a lot smarter. They are able to make intuitive websites that speak more to the people. If there is any reason, why to get a modern real estate website as soon as possible, could be for this reason alone.  The navigation and flow of modern websites are designed to work with the target audience. The sites unique navigation features are able to sort and filter people to desired channels faster. They simply make more conversions happen.

I hope I have been able to explain the differences between older real estate websites and the modern day websites for real estate. They were not meant to just look good, modern RE websites are meant to work for todays people i.e. both sellers, buyers, site-administrators and for real estate agents and brokers. Click here to get the benefits of a modern real estate website today at your preferred budget.

REINE

ScreenHunter_1923 Feb. 20 11.06

HEAD WEB DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

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