Whether your a DIY Real Estate Agent who wants to develop their own site or a seasoned Designer with Real Estate clients; this guide to designing a Professional Real Estate Website will provide you with all the tools, resources and concepts required to create a stunning, searchable and easily found in search site for your Real Estate listings.
How to Create a Professional Real Estate Website Using Wordpress
Comprehensive Guide to all the resources required to develop a Professional and Fully Featured Real Estate Website using Wordpress
Best WordPress Real Estate Options
What Makes a Great Real Estate Website
Basic Factors of a Successful Real Estate Website
Real Estate is a big purchase. Although, a website with a couple of typos and an outdated design may not drive away clients from Aunt Susie's Pies, it is sure to send a prospective Home and Property buyer to more seemingly trustworthy sources.
A great real estate website is flawless, simple and packs all the important features. In addition, the aesthetic should elicit trust in your brand.
The Real Estate space is highly competitive and is commonly a technologically advanced field. Your regional competition in the Real Estate space is likely to have an online presence and even participate in online advertising purchases. Your site must be "searchable" in two ways:
1. Findable in organic search
By properly designing your site with a keyword strategy from the ground up and optimizing images for search friendliness your new Real Estate Website has a significant likelihood in overtaking older competitors sites that are lacking in ground up optimization.
2. Solid on site search functions
Your visitors will want to search listings based on their requirements. Your site must have a search system in place that can define and display listings based on price, amenities, size and other standard buyer criteria
3. Highly Visual - Image Driven
The Preliminary Search for a home is a highly visual activity, you must be able to display large, easily manageable images that showcase your listings and are viewable across multiple browsers, screen sizes and devices.
This is a major flaw you will find within many older real estate websites, especially those following old template styles and small thumbnails.
4. Lead Capture /Lead Generation
You want to bring clients from your site to your door in as many ways as possible, providing an information resource, an ebook or some sort of consultation through a basic email form for a mailing list sign up can greatly increase your chances of being the Realtor that gets the big sale.
5.Be a Legitimate Resource
If you can keep your site up to date with only existing listings and provide tools such as mortgage and home affordability calculators, closing cost estimators and information about local schools and businesses your site can become a real resource that is frequently visited by prospective buyers.
Should I Build My Own Realtor Site using Wordpress?
This is an easy question. The tools exist for a "regular" person to purchase a basic system of theme and plugins and create a very Professional and intuitive site.
Building your own site will make you beholden to no one to make important changes and choices about what should be one of your primary stream of new clients.
The real question is time.
A person experienced with Wordpress, basic CSS/PHP and capable of working out the intricacies of a premium framework could design and publish a magnificent site using the resources I present in a week or two of dedicated work.
A layman, would probably take around 2 to 3 months to fully take advantage of the resources I present. But, after that learning experience you will be fully capable of updating and modifiyiing your site when you want and how you want. The biggest set of data in the form of MLS/IDX listings is all handled via the plugin services.
But using resources such as the Build your Own Business Website training program, Dedicated Training for Wordpress SIte Creation , and utilizing the forum and direct support options that the recommended top level themes and plugins include with their purchase price could dramatically cut down in your mistakes, security, design and learning time.
Real Estate sites and true e-commerce sites are the two types of Wordpress sites that really separate the true Web Designers from the paint by numbers Design hacks that permeate the Wordpress design service market.
Best Real Estate Wordpress Themes
Freshly Reviewed and Updated Real Estate Wordpress Themes
Best Wordpress Themes for Real Estate Sites
#1 AgentPress Theme
Hyper-Specialized Child Theme for the Genesis Framework
AgentPress gets a hands down, top recommendation for Wordpress Theme to use with your Real Estate site.
Every important factor required of a great Real Estate site is incorporated into the theme. A fresh out of the box install of Agentpress includes a built in advanced search function widget and image settings that allow for easy to navigate experience for your users. The overall design is very clean and highly customizable.
AgentPress is a child theme of the well known Genesis Framework, so BOTH will be required in order to run your site using this theme.
Genesis is ran by Studiopress which in turn is part of Copyblogger, this means that the editing interface is built for average joes and doesnt require a PHD in PHP to understand. This is a fully comprehensive child theme that has such market dominance that the major IDX/MLS plugin providers have deep knowledge and full integration options for the theme. This is a HUGE timesaver. Additionally, the support forum is thriving and active, getting answers to your questions as you learn and adapt to the framework and themes is very easy.
SEO Features are built right in and can be created at the page and post level. These reminders will go a huge way in making your real estate site searchable and findable.
Having direct integration with major IDX plugins is what really sets AgentPress apart. The time savings in design and data input is just massive.
Wordpress + AgentPress + IDX+ = Recipe for Online Real Estate Success
If you dont plan on using IDX plugins or services and will be entering the listing data manually, the free studiopress agentpress Listings plugin will make entries much easier by creating specific custom fields for common entries that match the themes design.
Runner-Up Best Wordpress Themes
#2 Elegant Estate
Highly Visual, Intuitive Interface with all the Bells and Whistles from Elegant Themes
Elegant Estate gets second place for a specific reason. It DOES not have the unique real estate marketing and pre-configured advanced plugin functionality that I would desire for my own Real Estate sites, but what it does offer is a truly beautiful design that can showcase your listings and the standard elegant theme suite of shortcodes, integrated seo and banner options and advanced and specific entry locations to create your listings and internal search options.
If you do plan on manually entering your listings and want the easiest most customer friendly interface in your backend, then Elegant themes and the Elegant Estate theme should be your first choice.
Elegant Themes also has a great support forum that can usually answer your questions within 24 hours. They have been flawless in this regards in my 2 years as a member.
Elegant Estate Theme AND access to all the Elegant Themes
This might be the best choice for Web Developers and Designers doing client work as for $39 a year you get access to ALL their themes and forums. I cant be bothered to count, but there are at least 30 now and of those I use 6 regularly and dont have a single complaint. The shortcode system they have in place is second to none.
Open House Real Estate Wordpress Theme
#3 Open House
Possibly the Secret Best Option for Real Estate themes
If I was to design my own Real Estate theme from the ground up, it would look just like Open House. Although, my top pick, AgentPress is clean and attractive and as it is the frontrunner with the most 3rd part support and integration it comes out on top, but in time that could change.
Open House is spectacular, if you are looking around for something that stands out a bit more than AgentPress yet features IDX integration, be sure to click through below and check out the site demo.
The search features are equal to AgentPress and the advanced Google Maps functionality is second to none. What they have created for the listings pages is a textbook example of a strong, visual and highly interactive real estate listing. Unlike the other top themes, they actually have integrated calls to action, something that otherwise you would have to design manually with the other two themes.
There is also an integrated mortgage calculator which is a fun novelty, we can add that sort of function to any wordpress site rather easily, but it is always a good sign when the theme developers take such steps as it suggests they truly understand the real estate web design field.
This one is so attractive and rich with features that its probably best if you just head over and read the overview and check out the demo site yourself.
Price = $40 for two themes and support forum
Again, they do have specialized IDX integration and in that regards are a true real estate theme, rather than just a portfolio theme with real estate pictures like many of the lesser alternatives.
The side by side comparison option for listings is pretty ground breaking also
Installing Your Premium Real Estate Theme
Quick Guide and Tips
This guide was written with the assumption that you were either familiar with Wordpress or were capable of following any one of the hundreds of well written guide in this field. But just in case, in brief:
1. Purchase Hosting
2. Install Wordpress (Any worthwhile Wordpress Host has support in regards to this action)
3. Log into your Wordpress sites dashboard, Under the Appearance Tab select Themes and then upload your .zip file you received from your theme provider, then activate
Alternately, and often more advisable, use an ftp program such as Filezilla to upload your unzipped theme files to the Theme folder of your Wordpress install. Then head to the appearance tab mentioned above to "activate" your new theme
4. Install and activate the necessary plugin files for your theme and niche
5. Get Designing!
Alternative Options for Real Estate Wordpress Themes
The following themes are not losers. They simply didn't fit my top 3, primarily because I have not had extensive design experience with them. Templatic, ThemeForest and Woo are all very reliable and high quality theme providers who offer great forum support. They all are beautifully designed, very clean and integrate maps, tools and social media in the manner suggested above as being of primary importance.
In fact, if you want to make sure your site is clearly unique and plan on dedicating serious time to your design, then some of these less popular options might be a great starting point.
Best Wordpress Real Estate Plugins
MLS / IDX and Localization Functions
As an existing Real Estate Agency either yourself or your client (if you're the Designer) already has an MLS account and spends time entering data into the service.
By using IDX (Internet Data Exchange) you can pull your local MLS data directly into your site, Creating a more comprehensive local resource and avoiding duplication of your efforts.
The premium themes above all integrate one or all of the following wordpress integarted IDX services OR the services will specifically customize their data to work with your site.
Of all the options, IDX+ is the most fully featured, but is also significantly more costly. Pick the IDX service that best integrates with your theme and needs, but make sure that you DO pick one.
Lead Capture for Real Estate Sites
Lead Capture and Mailing Plugins and Services for Real Estate Sites
Integrating a Lead Capture form and using email marketing to increase your sales is very necessary for a truly successful Real Estate Website.
But email marketing can be a quick way to over saturate your potential buyers and quickly turn them off to future dealings with you -- if you do this wrong.
Successful eMail marketing to your potentials will involve segmenting . You dont want to develop just ONE list, you want to be able to segment out buyers and sellers , low budget from high budget and renters from buyers etc.
This is done easily if you have a fully featured lead capture form generation system.
Without question, Gravity Forms provides this need. In fact, there is no competitor in the field for customizable and integrated form generation for wordpress sites to Gravity Forms, there is nothing else in the same league!
Designing with Gravity forms is intuitive and the forms will automatically use your sites design scheme to match your fonts and type.
Different forms can be presented to your clients based on where and how they interact with your site and questions within the forms can be used to assign them to specific mailing lists.
But, in order to properly segment, you will need a mailing list provider that is specialized for such complex (but easy to create) form/mailing list integration.
Luckily, the industry leader in this field has been used by real estate agents for nearly a decade and has all the specialization, features and help files you would ever need.