By Nina Kashefpour – Real Estate Broker. https://www.ninasdreamhomes.com/.
Years ago, when I first got into the real estate business, I did it because I liked working with people. The thought of making money while leveraging my “people person” skills made a career in real estate even that much more appealing.
Besides having an outgoing personality, the skills you need to succeed in this business are a knowledge of the local real estate market, a decent sized Rolodex and, of course, a thorough understanding of the procedures and regulations governing the buying and selling of homes. The only “technology” you needed, a few short years ago, was a telephone and a basic laptop computer.
Real Estate Tech Overload
Today, however, if you listen to some folks, you need a Ph.D. in computer science, technology or digital graphics to succeed as a real estate agent. Moreover, some suggest that you need an entirely new vocabulary – “CRM”, “algorithm”,” AI”, and “chat bots” – if you want to win in the real estate game.
Nobody disputes that keeping up with new technology is important. And everyone agrees that having a presence on the internet is central to the real estate sales process today. But its one thing to recognize that fact, and quite another to actually being able to do it.
I can count on one hand the number of real estate agents who know how to create a presence on the Internet. And I’m not talking about simply slapping a picture of your smiling face on a web page underneath a bold banner featuring your broker’s name either. You can’t call that a “presence on the internet.” It is, as everyone knows, much more than that.
Your web presence has to look modern and have features found on your competitor’s websites, otherwise you come off looking like some sort of dinosaur. Who wants to buy or sell a home with someone stuck in the Stone Age?
Real Estate Has Changed, Yet It Remains the Same
As we all know, the evolution of technology has dramatically changed the real estate business. Well, it has and it hasn’t. Yes, buyers can now go on the internet and find pretty much every home for sale in the U.S. They can also go online and find out how much their house is worth. And they can find “tips” on how to gussy-up their homes; what flowers to plant in the garden and what air spray to spritz in the closet. Buyers can even tour a home “virtually” through something called digital 3-D “augmented reality” technology.
But let’s be honest, who in their right mind is going to buy a home without actually setting foot in it – nobody. There has to be someone there to actually unlock the door and show buyers around. They haven’t created robots who can do that, at least not yet.
More importantly, buyers and sellers need agents like us at the center of the transaction if they hope to get a good deal and avoid stepping on the dozens of legal landmines involved in this complicated transaction. After all, this is likely the largest transaction people make in their lifetime and they want a professional around to help them, not some artificial intelligence generated computer program talking to them on their laptop screen.
The task then is to put you, the agent, in between the client and their computer. For that, as everybody knows, you need your own “branded” website. Like it or not, the internet is the primary medium people use to buy and sell homes. And more and more of them are using it to find agents. Your website, for all intents and purposes, is you, it is your consumer facing brand.
Building Your Own Website is a Piece of Cake (or a never ending nightmare)
We’ve all heard it before; creating a real estate website is as easy as making instant oatmeal. You can do it your sleep. You can’t open your mailbox or email and avoid the online ads taunting “do it yourself” website creation templates. You’ve heard the pitch before; “5 Easy Steps to Creating your Brand Online’ or “Chimp-Simple Real Estate Websites You Can Build Yourself.
However, few mention that you are likely to spend the next few weeks pounding your head against the computer screen trying to figure out how to use them. That easy to change the fount size application ain’t so easy. Try importing your database or contact list into these templates. Or, see if you can take a bunch of different computer formats and integrate them into a single, useable interface, as its called. Just make sure you have a fifth of vodka handy to help manage your frustration.
Hiring a Professional Web Design, …Cha-ching…Cha-ching…
What often happens is that after spending fruitless weeks trying to create a website yourself, many agents bite the bullet and hire a web designer. This, of course, doesn’t come cheap. In fact, it can cost up to ten times the expense as using an online website template.
This simple solution isn’t so simple either. You are likely to spend countless days going back and forth with the developer discussing what components are “a must” – seamless MLS access, automatic email responses – and what is just too costly to include. And don’t think that once your website is finished, all this fun is over. It’s not because every time you want to make a change, guess who you have to call – and pay – the web designer. Like a nasty rash that just won’t go away, web designers will be with you for a long, long time.
Many people find, after all this expense and hassle, that they are still without a good website of their own.
Help! What’s the Solution?
That’s what happened to me, in any case. I finally realized I was back to square one. Fortunately, as I was about to get in my car to go jump off a bridge, one of the other agents at my brokerage stopped me and said they had a really easy and cost-effective way around this problem. It was one, I was told, that is functional, professional looking and won’t drive me to bankruptcy or suicide.
It’s called WebsiteBox.
I’ll be honest, at first, I was a bit skeptical. I checked out some of their online reviews and they were good. Agents who had gone through the same stuff as I said the process was easy – no computer science Ph.D. required – and the end product was wonderful.
But it was the 30-day money back guaranteed that did the trick as did their “curb appeal” test drive
Curb Appeal Test Drive
As every real estate agent knows, curb appeal – that first impression a buyer has the moment they set foot on the curb in front of a house – is an indelible image that a buyer will have throughout the sales process.
The same thing happens when prospective sellers visit your website. First impressions matter – a lot. That’s why WebsiteBox lets agents preview multiple design options before you pull the trigger. I called it their “curb appeal test drive” and it worked.
Agents get to play around with the actual website and see how different pages load, how scrolling for content looks and, importantly, how the “look and feel” of the website design will appear to prospective clients. WebsiteBox does this because they want to make sure you are happy with it – really happy with it – before you pay a cent.
Cool Features Every Agent Needs
A good branded website isn’t just about how it looks. It’s also about how it works and what features it has. WebsiteBox provides every feature a real estate agent needs like free MLS integration that will automatically display your IDX listing. It also has easy to use CRM capabilities to help manage leads and organize your customer database.
A lot of so-called “solutions” on the market today have these things but they are separate features. It’s not a “do it all in one place ” seamless operation like the one WebsightBox has. They also make it easy to move your spreadsheets and databases into a single function that simplifies the management of your customer, prospect and leads files.
I’ll admit, I was a bit worried about shifting all my stuff to this new platform. I’m certainly not a tech wizard but honestly, it was a breeze.
No, Really; It’s Easy to Setup and it’s Super Affordable
Every web development company says that their product is easy to setup. As I found out, most are not. But WebsiteBox is. All you do is pick the plan that suits you best. For example, for just $199 a year you get a personalized, branded website with MLS listings and all of the CRM that makes your life easier.
You also have the option of building your new website by yourself with the help of a step-by-step “wizard” assistant. They are super smart WebsiteBox techies who can guide you through the entire process.
If that sounds too daunting, they offer a new Premium Plan for just $499 a year. All you have to do is provide a logo and photo of yourself, and they do the rest. And you won’t get nickeled and dimed every time you need to make a change. That’s free.
The price for the Premium Plan is crazy low too. If you don’t believe me, just go online and see what others charge. Trust me, you’ll be back to WebsiteBox in a flash.
The Bottomline: Making More Money for You
After I worked with these guys at WebsiteBox there was one thing that really stood out. They actually knew what real estate professionals needed, and what they didn’t. This wasn’t some boilerplate template or re-veneered, but one specifically designed for us.
They also knew what drives people in the real estate business – that’s making money and a lot of it if we can. They knew too that the way we make money is by increasing the number of listings we capture and the number of transactions we close.
Seems pretty obvious, but its not to a lot techie types who have never been to a closing in their lives. Someone at WebsiteBox sure has because their people know our business, and theirs.
If you want a very cool looking – and functioning – personally branded real estate website, contact WebsiteBox. Now.
And do it before you lose your mind and bank account, like I almost did.
Nina Kashefpour – Real Estate Broker.