Defining the Agent’s Website; Part 2

What makes a GREAT Agent Website?

As promised here is my second post on Defining an Agent’s Website.  Before I get into all the technical aspects of a website for a REALTOR, I first want to talk about in general what makes a Great website in terms of what elements should every agent look for in designing a website.

1: Data

Let’s face it, most agents websites are about tracking buyers and sellers and most Internet prospects come to your website to see listings.  So in terms of data I am specifically talking about listings.  According to the 2008 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 87% of all home buyers used the Internet as an information source*.  These people most likely come to your site to find a home.  So how can we present good data?

  1. IDX – The Internet Data Exchange is a fast, legal and reliable way to put your MLS on your website.  IDX is a preferred method because and IDX search is branded to your website.  Unlike linking to REALTOR.com or your local MLS’s website where your prospects are then bombarded by your competitors, an IDX search keep the entire visit safe on your website.
  2. Listing Feeds – Listing feeds are files your MLS can send you that contain your active listings.  They are convenient when you do not want the entire MLS on your website and do not want to key every listing into your website yourself.
  3. Manual Listings – You can also enter listings your self, but choose a web developer who offers a robust Listing Maintenance application.

Perhaps the most important thing about data is that is needs to be accurate.  No one wants old or inaccurate listings. It is not only unprofessional but also a liability.

2: Call to Action

A good Real Estate website will have multiple call to action forms and not just rely on a few of them, have just a generic contact form, or worse yet email links.  I think we all have seen forms.  They are those web pages where you fill out information and then click on the “submit” button.  They are so important because they pre-qualify a lead.  When someone fills out a “Relocation” request and takes the time to give you some specific information you automatically can move that lead from a cold to warm.  Today’s web viewer does no want to spend a lot of time hunting around, but having different forms spread across your site you are allowing your buyers/sellers to react.  Some people will be drawn to a “Dream Home” form while others a “CMA” form.  All of these stir a different response to each kind of buyer or seller.  And since you can ask different questions on every form, you can further qualify a lead.  For example if someone was serious bout a CMA but would not provide you with some basic information like his name, email address,  what type of home and the year it was built do you really want to be chasing this lead down or at the very least you now know this lead is less qualified.  I must rather have 5 warm leads than 25 cold ones.

3: Navigation

Generation X and beyond are impatient web surfers and do not like to wait or spend time trying to find things.  Your navigation should be clean and clear.  The important items should be at the top on a vertical navigation and on the left for a horizontal.  If you have not figured it out, listings are your most important asset so give them the visibility they need.

4:  IDX

No website should be without an IDX solution.  Bringing your MLS to your website and being able to brand it, is a key factor in a successful website.  Most home buyers come to your website to search for homes.  If you do not have the inventory you do not have the lead.  Sending them off to your MLS or REALTOR.com is not an answer as you lose the branding and have a very good chance of losing the lead.  Because today’s home buyers wants instant access, adding a IDX search to your website it very important.

5:  Tools and Management

I know there are a lot of web developers and free website building tools out there but do yourself a favor and pick one that specializes in the Real Estate Industry.  You need to have more than a website, you need to have a management and marketing solution that has at least these features;

  1. Support for IDX
  2. A CMS System
  3. Lead Management
  4. Listing Management
  5. Document Management
  6. Friendly URL’s
  7. For Brokers, Agent Support

This is your livelihood and I do not think sacrificing on that should be an option.  You can find free websites that are real estate specific and there are plenty of really good companies that specialize in Real Estate web design. Weather you pick a free one like Agent Producer, a template site like REALTOR.com or a professional agent website design firm, pick one who you feel can provide you with the best range of services in the budget you set up.  Make the +/- list for a smart decision.

My next post will detail on how to build a good SEO community page to use in your Agent website.

If you missed Defining the Agent’s Website; Part 1 you can read it here.

*(Source: 2008 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.)

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