This research was conducted by Maria Antoinette an experienced Madison realtor. specializing condos for sale in Madison WI. According to the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 85-90% of real estate purchases start on the web. Even if that statistic is somewhat off, it nevertheless remains true that most potential customers now start their property search online and choose their Realtor based on what websites they find.
Over 60,000 agents serve the New England area, all of them looking for new clients. Consumers now have many options when they search the web for a Realtor or property. They can visit specific brokerage websites like RE/MAX or Coldwell Banker, browse listings at Trulia or Redfin, search Google, and much more. Most Realtor website discussion focuses on SEO and is one of the first 10 results that come up for certain search terms. While this is good practice, it remains true that all websites have the same goals and that there are already plenty of resources out there that discuss SEO in depth. I will therefore instead focus on what happens when people reach your website and how you can influence their decision to choose you as their agent.
Web usability studies have shown that users care about speed, appearance, clutter, and content. For Realtor sites, this refers chiefly to listings: buyers want to look at listings, and sellers want to see you working their listing. Today, I will focus on the visual aspect of your site. If potential customers find your design unattractive, they will likely move on to the next site. In my research for ListingInjector, I have looked at thousands of different real estate websites. I can, therefore, tell you with confidence that most sites look horrible, making the ones that look halfway decent standout. Sites are often cluttered, hard to navigate, and apparently more interested in selling mortgages than real estate services. When the web exploded in the early ’90s, people explored the medium by building sites in a simple text editor. Today, however, companies use teams of professionally trained engineers to design and build their websites. This has raised the bar of what constitutes an attractive website, and when you don’t meet your users’ expectations, it reflects poorly on your commitment to your customers as an agent.
With this in mind, here are some simple rules to follow when exploring your next site design:
- Keep it simple and clean. In contemporary design, less is more. When people visit your website, they are seeking specific information: sellers are looking at how you promote your properties, and buyers are looking for user-friendly listings. A common mistake is to offer an IDX service that does not flow with the rest of the site, looks awkward, or is hard to use.
- Know what you’re selling. Mortgage brokers and advertisers will pay you for ad placement on your home page. You should always ask yourself if $50 a month is worth the loss of commission on a potential sale. Think of your website cost as a part of your marketing: you would never put a mortgage broker’s ad on your marketing material. If you must sell ad space, do so only in a way that flows with your site’s design.
- Create a cohesive look. I often have seen agents spending money on a professionally designed site only to detract from their overall look with low-quality images or a poor layout. Spend a bit more money and have a graphic artist clean up your images and integrate them into your design.
Next time I’ll talk about content and how not to become a slave to it. However, if you are looking forward to growing your online presence and rank your website higher on search engines then I recommend reading this wonderful piece on real estate SEO.