The Top 5 Must-Have Real Estate Website Features

19 Feb 2019

A real estate website shouldn’t just be a necessary evil. It should deliver prospects that go to the closing table. Unfortunately, too many real estate websites are more like billboards, attracting passing interest but not delivering closings. Does your real estate website have these necessary lead generation features covered?

1. Dynamic and Interactive IDX Search Page(s) – Surveys of both real estate buyers and sellers consistently say that 85%+ of both prospect types want to search currently listed homes. Not only should you have a master search page with many options to narrow their search, but also different searches around the site customized to the content. In other words, in the condominium content, have a search that’s already narrowed to just condo listings, etc.

2. Efficient use of screen real estate – Think of your Web pages as commercial real estate lots. They’re very deep, but only one side is visible from the street. Much of the lot is not going to yield much value to a retail walk-in business if there isn’t a very inviting streetside presentation. In the newspaper business, they have the phrase “above the fold” to define the space on the front page that is visible with the newspaper folded as it is on display at the newsstand. That is important because above the fold space is what passers-by see and it should highlight content that will catch their interest. This is the most important content that the newspaper wants to bring to their attention.

Moving to the computer or even the smartphone, there isn’t a fold, but there is space visible before the website visitor must start scrolling down. Of course, this space size is different for a great many devices. However, you should constantly be thinking of what your visitor is likely to see before being forced to scroll down and put your most important content in that area. You can’t expect that retail customer to stroll to the back of the retail business lot to see if there’s something of interest there to buy.

Every page on your site should make the best use of screen real estate with the most important content “above the fold.” One mistake many real estate website owners make is to have a very large image or header image at the top of their site. Often it’s a large photo of a home or a combination of real estate and a photo of the site owner. Even if you superimpose some title text on that image(s), you’re wasting valuable screen real estate on a picture that isn’t worth a thousand words. Put your photo on the About page.

3. Navigation that lets visitors easily find what they want – Whether you’re using top navigation links/buttons, side navigation, or a combination of both, you want it to clearly indicate what the visitor will find if they click on a link. As important, does the text of the link/button cover the most important topics visitors seek?

A drop-down nav item is a good approach. An example might be the top nav reading “Buyer Resources.” Mousing over that item, the sub-topics that drop down could be:

Search Current Listings
Real Estate Purchase Contract Basics
The Home Inspection
The Real Estate Closing Process

Depending on your site’s layout, on some pages, you could include side navigation along with the top nav. Because you have unlimited space as visitors scroll downward, you can build your sub-items on the side panel. You can also, with some website providers, customize that side menu just for the sub-items for main topic pages. In other words, when they arrive at “Buyer Resources,” they will see those four sub-menu links on the left without having to go up to the top and mouse over the main item.

4. Content that’s focused for visitors and search engines – This topic ties in with the previous item. If you mix up different product or service categories on the same page, you’re going to confuse your visitors or make it harder for them to find what they want. They are almost always seeking one item, and giving them too much to sort through on a page often leads to them clicking to another site.

Mixing too many item types or categories also makes it impossible for search engines to determine the main topic or most important focus of the page. The search engine will not have a clear picture of the focus of the page, and thus you’ll get poor placement in searches.

You could have put all of those sub-topics above on the one Buyer Resources page. However, then the search engine will see a lot of information, but it’s on different subjects so you won’t get the SEO you want. By separating the topics, you give the search engine robot one topic with keywords for that single page.

5. One or more calls-to-action on every page – If you’ve followed the instructions for the first four tips here, you should be getting more traffic, so now it’s time to get their contact information.

You want website forms all around your real estate website with the goal of getting site visitors to give you their contact information. One or two forms asking them to “sign my guestbook,” or “ask me a question” aren’t going to do the job. On most, if not all, of your pages, you’ll want a form and an offer or call-to-action to get them to volunteer their contact information.

The key is to develop offerings that will grab their interest and offer more detailed information than what they find on your website. Logically, your offer of a special report, sample contract form, or sample inspection report, etc. will get far more interest if the call-to-action offers more information related to that page topic.

Keeping the form and offer also above the fold, you’re going to get their attention when they’re reading the most relevant and valuable information on the page. They are there because it provides information or answers a question on the page topic. They get information, but they see on the side or as a prominent text link that they can get a sample, a report, or some other related special information with the form.

Make these five strategies a part of your real estate website plan and you’ll see a jump in your business from your website traffic.