If you are a real estate agent, you know that savvy home buyers and sellers use the web constantly to aid in their real estate transactions. While real estate apps are popular, they have yet to replace the real estate agent. Claim your own piece of the web by setting up your own real estate website in just a few hours.
Buy Your Domain
First, buy a domain with a reputable registrar. The domain is the yoursite.com name that people will use to get to your website. You can use your domain as both your online website address and your email address, like firstname.lastname@example.org, so be sure to put some thought into your domain name. The greatest advantage of buying a domain is that it’s yours and it won’t change if you change agencies. An email address with your own domain name always looks more professional than a gmail.com account or other free email account.
The best option for a domain is your team name, or company name if YOU own the company, with a .com registration so people can easily find you when searching in Google or other search engines. While there are other domains such as .net, .org, and the new top-level domains like .realtor, .realestate, and .homes, a .com domain is still the most trusted and professional option on the web. I recommend that you ONLY use a .com domain name, even if it means picking a less than perfect domain name because your ideal name is already taken. If you want to own the other top-level domain like .homes, etc. then by all means buy it, but redirect it to your .com name.
Popular options include GoDaddy.com. Be sure to do a quick search for coupon codes. An average registration cost is about $10 per year, but some coupons go as low as .99 cents for the first year.
Sign Up For Hosting
Think of your domain name as your entry in the yellow pages and your hosting as you online office. Your hosting account web server is the computer that houses your website and sends it to users when the visit your site.
When picking hosting, there are lots of options to choose from. For my most important business sites, I use a premium host with exceptional customer service and performance. For other sites, I use a discount host that costs less, but my sites there have more downtime and don’t get as great technical support and customer service.
For my discount hosting, I use HostGator. For my premium hosting needs, I use LiquidWeb. I pay about $5 per month at HostGator and $15 per month at LiquidWeb.
When you sign up for your hosting account, you will go back to your domain registrar and point your domain name to your new server using the hosts “nameserver” setup feature. Your registrar and host should both have online tutorials explaining how to set this up correctly. You can also host the website on your own webserver, but that requires a bit of expertise not covered in this article.
WordPress is a popular online content management system, or CMS, used for millions of sites around the world, including the AgentHarvest blog you are reading right now.
WordPress is completely free and very easy to setup. Most hosting companies offer a “one click install” where you don’t need any technical knowledge to get up and running. If your host does not offer that, just follow the famous 5 minute install steps or follow along with the video below.
Once WordPress is installed, visit all of the settings menus to setup your basic site settings. Don’t worry about adding any pages or posts just yet.
Buy and Install the AgentPress Theme from StudioPress
There are many free themes available on the WordPress theme directory. Thousands actually. Those are great for people’s personal blogs they are keeping as a hobby, but to include top-of-the-line real estate listings and search functions, my favorite theme is AgentPress from StudioPress, which runs on the industry leading Genesis framework.
When you buy AgentPress, you are buying both the Genesis framework and AgentPress child theme. This allows you to update Genesis when new versions come out without breaking your website’s theme.
When you buy, StudioPress offers great tutorials with step-by-step instructions to setup your theme on your new site, including adding the AgentPress listings plugin and other needed tools to get your property listings online and looking good.
Add Your Content and Property Information
Now that your site is live, you can add your content and property listings. When you do this, use WordPress pages to create static pages that will always be current. Those are best for things like an about our company page and a page about communities and neighborhoods you support.
WordPress posts should be used for a company blog. If you create a page with the “blog” page layout in Genesis, all of your most recent posts will show up at the top of your blog section.
When adding a new property, follow the directions in the AgentPress setup instructions to make sure you add everything to display the property beautifully. You can add neighborhood, amenities, features, an image slider, and embedded Google Map.
Put Your Best Face Forward
People find real estate agents online all the time. While they will still likely use real estate apps and ask you lots of questions to decide if you are the right agent for them, be sure to present yourself well online. A bad first impression online may be the only impression you get.
What Bill Petrey Hates About Agent Websites
Bill Petrey, the President of AgentHarvest, shares his insights about agent websites.
In my endeavor to find great agents, I come across a lot of horrible agent websites. I wanted to share some of my gripes. First of all, your website is supposed to showcase YOU, not the same bunch of listings that show up on everyone’s website. When I come to your site, I want to know what makes YOU different from all the agents in your market. What are your home-selling accomplishments, and what can you do better than the next agent for my clients? Your website should sell YOU first, not your listings. Sure, your listings will be prominently featured on your site, but YOUR story is what the site should be about. Spend lots of time creating an About Us section that shows off your team and highlights their accomplishments. Your reason for being a great agent should not be that you live in the area, care a lot about your clients, and love real estate. SO WHAT!! Tell me how you sell houses, how that strategy has paid off in the past, and the awards and praise you’ve received as a result of your selling ability. Show off your awards and rankings and give performance stats about your track record. Testimonials also work, but I don’t place as high a value on them. After all, it’s your site so you’re going to pick your best testimonials and not show any negative comments. Either way, prove you’re a good agent, don’t just say it. And back it up with real results, not just touchy-feely heart-warming slogans and phrases.