Real estate agents are able to advertise, promote, and even rent and sell homes all over the country and around the world, thanks to online technology. The same technology lets buyers research new homes and neighborhoods, helps sellers know how to stage and price their homes, and lets both find a real estate agent they trust. That technology also empowers you to create a real estate website with WordPress.
Why? While a lot of this new technology is handled through different mobile apps and even third-party websites like Zillow and Realtor.com, real estate agents still need to have their own website that will show both buyers and sellers the kinds of work you do, the homes you sell, and the services you provide.
And when it comes to the kind of website you have, we’re big fans of real estate websites built on WordPress.
The great thing about WordPress is that it’s scalable. This means building a real estate website with WordPress is smart, no matter how big it is, whether you have a one-person shop or a large agency with 50-plus agents and offices throughout the city.
So let’s talk about the ideal choice for your real estate website, and how to create your real estate website with WordPress.
Guide to creating a real estate website with WordPress
We’re going to cover a lot of territory in this article, including:
- Benefits of using WordPress for a real estate website.
- Getting your real estate domain name ready.
- How to create a real estate website with Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting.
- WordPress themes for real estate.
- WordPress real estate plugins.
- Tips for building your WordPress real estate website.
- Conclusion and next steps.
Let’s get moving.
Benefits of using WordPress for a real estate website
There are many benefits to building a real estate website with WordPress.
Lots of functionality
The biggest benefit of a real estate WordPress site is that it’s almost limitless in its functionality. Thanks to the various plugins and themes available, you can trick out your website to provide all the functionality that buyers and sellers have come to expect.
For example, there’s the advanced listing search, which lets buyers specify the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want, or to look only at condo and townhouse rentals that allow pets, or even limit their search to a specific geographic area.
Once the users know where they want to look for their new home, you can show the listings on a map display, which usually uses Google Maps to display your different properties.
And when you build a real estate website with WordPress, some themes will even let you customize the pin images and layouts of your website’s maps to take advantage of the different photos of the property.
Of course, once the buyers know where the properties are located, they’ll want to see the specific property details, like a floor plan, square footage, amenities, school district and so on. And you want your theme to display this information in a clear, easy-to-read layout that looks good on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone.
As they do their research, your buyers are going to find some homes they like and want to keep an eye on. A good real estate WordPress theme will let them save their favorite real estate listings so they can come back and find them later. This lets them compare different homes and properties, and will keep them on your site longer.
You can even offer a mortgage calculator, which will let buyers know how much they can expect to pay each month, based on the listing price of the home.
Booking and reservation requests
There are options for rental properties, which means you can build a real estate website with WordPress that offers online booking and reservation requests. This is useful not only for real estate agents, but multi-family dwellings and rental property managers.
Several real estate WordPress themes will let you display your agent listings. You can show agent details on individual property pages, but you can also show them separately on your Contact Us or About Us page.
Finally, if you haven’t heard about this yet, it’s important to know: Your website has to look as good on mobile devices as it does on a laptop. So you need responsive themes.
87% of smartphone owners perform a mobile search at least once a day — and Google gives search ranking preference to sites that are mobile-friendly, regardless of where people see it.
You can save yourself some major headaches, and even push ahead of your competitors by using a responsive theme as you’re creating your real estate with WordPress.
Getting your real estate domain name ready
Before you start building your real estate website, you need the perfect domain name to tell people where you live online. When you buy your domain name, it’s important to find one that’s perfect for you and your real estate agency.
Your domain name is basically your web address.
Choosing your domain name
You want something that’s descriptive, but not too long. If you can, include your location so people know where exactly you’re located and what areas you cover, but don’t go nuts.
For example, you don’t want one that’s overly long — BjornJorgensonSellsHomesInBemidjiMinnesota.com — and you don’t want one that’s not very descriptive — JorgensonSells.com.
But BemidjiHomeSales.com or BemidjiRealEstate.com are just right: They tell your customers what you do and where you do it.
Sure, having your name in there would be great, but consider getting that for your individual agent’s page.
Pro tip: You can buy a domain name, such as your own name, and then forward it to a different website.
For example, my domain, ErikDeckers.com, automatically forwards to one of my blogs. And if I ever wanted to, I could forward it to a new website. Consider doing this for each of the agents in your agency, forwarding those domains to their agent page or even their own listings.
How to create a real estate website with Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting
You’ve chosen your domain name, so now it’s time to set up your real estate website with WordPress. But unless you have some technical expertise or extra time on your hands, you probably don’t want to go the self-installation route. (But if do you, here’s how to install WordPress on cPanel hosting.)
Managed WordPress Hosting is Upfiv’s streamlined, optimized platform that lets you build a WordPress site quickly and easily.
WordPress sites built on Upfiv’s WordPress Hosting live on dedicated WordPress servers. Upfiv’s admins are focused strictly on those servers’ security and maintenance, and they manage the basic hosting administrative tasks, such as installing WordPress, automated daily backups, WordPress core updates and server-level caching.
If you don’t know what any of that means, don’t worry.
That’s why the Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting option is probably your best bet. It just means that WordPress will be updated, backed up and optimized to run faster.
And you’ll be able to get starting really quickly. Managed WordPress Hosting features pre-built themes that are easy to customize with a drag-and-drop editor. Just choose your industry — real estate — and you’ll get a ready-made site, complete with images. You can also make it completely your own with thousands of third-party WordPress themes and plugins to choose from (more on that later).
Choose your Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plan
Check out the different Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plans, specs and the pricing (which varies by country).
Choose your WordPress real estate theme
Once you’ve chosen your Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plan, choose your real estate WordPress theme. There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes to choose from, but only a couple dozen for real estate websites. Some of them are free, and some of them are premium/paid themes.
Narrowing down your three to five favorites can be tough, let alone settling on your final one.
To be honest, I like some of the free themes. But the premium themes just have more functionality, better technical support, and they’re often better made.
Since this is the face of your business, this is not an area to cheap out on. If you prefer the look of a premium theme, go with it.
Personalize your real estate website
Next, you want to personalize your website. This is the chance to upload all your own graphics, images, logos and written content. You’ll want to come up with your tagline, get some high quality photographs of your office, staff, and property listings. And you’ll want a lot of high-quality written content for your various pages explaining your services.
Add the right plugins
You’ll also want to start adding the various plugins that will actually make your website functional.
There are plugins for security, social media sharing, search engine optimization, Google Analytics, and various property listing plugins.
We’ll take a closer look at popular WordPress real estate plugins below.
Learn how to quickly add a plugin to your WordPress site.
WordPress themes for real estate
What makes a good WordPress theme if you’re a real estate agent? Which features should you look for? Your website is all about your users’ experience as much as it is your own preferences and selections.
Regardless of what you choose, there are some common features your visitors will expect when looking for real estate websites with WordPress. Many of those will come from the theme you choose as much as from the different plugins you add.
The theme is the facade of your website, the front of the house, the exterior siding and landscaping. In short, it’s the curb appeal of your website, and it’s the first thing visitors are going to judge your real estate website on, before they ever go inside.
To start, scroll through the WordPress Theme Directory, or the real estate themes selection on Upfiv’s WordPress Hosting site, to see what’s available. Whatever you choose will be applied to your entire website all at once, not just a few pages.
When you choose your WordPress theme, you need to make sure that it’s mobile responsive. That means it will adjust to fit on your user’s screen, whether they’re using a smartphone, tablet or laptop.
Google will actually penalize sites that aren’t mobile friendly, plus many of your clients will be driving around and looking up properties on their phones, so you need to make sure your site will work in those situations.
You also want to make sure that your theme will work on all the internet browsers, including Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge.
We’ve already discussed it earlier, but remember some of the benefits of specifically using WordPress themes for real estate websites:
- Advance listing search
- Map display
- Property details
- Agent listings
Now that you know what to look for in a WordPress theme for your real estate website, let’s hone in on a few available themes you might want to consider.
Premium WordPress real estate themes
Here is a short (and certainly not exhaustive) list of some of the themes we found that really shine for real estate websites. Check out each theme’s page for current pricing.
This premium theme is designed for independent real estate agents and agencies, but you can also use it to allow users to submit their properties for free, for a fee or based on a subscription.
Ideal for just about any type of real estate professional, this theme enables you to build sites ranging from paid real estate listing portals to vacation rental websites.
A standout feature of this theme is the ability to display content in various machine-translated languages.
This premium theme includes about a dozen pre-made demos to help you get a site up and running quickly, plus machine translation capability for 32 languages.
Free WordPress real estate themes
While many real estate WordPress themes are premium (paid), there are a few great free ones out there if you know where to look.
Cabana from SMThemes includes a slider/slide deck theme that slides photos of various homes past the front page. It also has Google Maps shortcode for map listings, and has responsive web design. It has a landscape/horizontal orientation, which makes it ideal for panorama photos.
Also from SMThemes, Interon is ideal for showing off luxury houses and condominiums. Just like its sister theme, Cabana, Interon includes a slider, responsive web design, social media integration, and it’s SEO friendly.
Relic is SEO-friendly, mobile friendly and has a photo gallery that lets you include several photos for a listing. Although it’s free, it also comes in a premium version that has some additional functionality; it might be worth the upgrade.
Avenue integrates with your MLS subscription to let potential buyers search for houses based on price, size, and number of bedrooms. This Browse Listing feature is usually only limited to premium themes, but Avenue is free.
WordPress real estate plugins
Plugins are what give a real estate website with WordPress its functionality. Rather than little sub-programs that you would have to code yourself, these are standalone modules that you load into your WordPress installation.
You can search for new plugins just by going to the Plugins menu on the sidebar, and clicking Add New.
From there, you can find great WordPress real estate plugins like home affordability and mortgage calculators, and ALTOS charts and online calendars so potential buyers can schedule meetings with you.
There are plugins for adding local events, schools, local restaurants and even business partners. You could even consider cross-pollinating your website with local business partners as a way to attract new home buyers to your city or part of town.
You can even offer downloadable content, such as livability surveys and reports, or eBooks on moving or mortgage financing.
When you’re ready to install plugins, check out our step-by-step instructions.
Here are a few plugins that every WordPress website needs:
- Yoast SEO: An all-in-one SEO solution that offers on-page analysis of your blog posts and pages.
- Social sharing: Plugins like JetPack will let you connect your favorite social networks to your blog and then share them automatically
- Security (e.g. Sucuri): There are plenty of hackers who want to break into your website, whether it’s to sabotage your site or use it for their own nefarious hacking purposes. Protect yourself with a strong security plugin.
- Smush Image Compression: Compress your photos by removing unnecessary information without reducing the photo quality. Your images will be smaller and load faster, which makes your site more mobile and SEO friendly.
- Lazy Load: Improves your page load speed, which is an important SEO factor. The faster a page loads, the better Google ranks it.
- Contact Form 7: Lets you create forms for visitors to use via drag-and-drop interface. Use these for Contact Us pages or surveys.
- Google Analytics Dashboard: Lets you track important metrics like the number of visitors, how they found you, the social networks they used, and even what kind of device (mobile vs. tablet vs. laptop) they used.
- Business Profile: This is a local SEO plugin. If you depend on local search traffic (think restaurants, retail, and real estate agents), install this one.
And don’t forget these plugins for your real estate website with WordPress:
- WP-Property: Great for real estate agents and property managers too. It uses Google Map integrations so you can display your listings on a map.
- Easy Property Listings: A listings-based plugin that lets visitors sort by price, date and location. You can link to virtual tours and floor plans, and add a photo gallery to your Google Maps listings.
- IDX: Let visitors search for MLS-listed properties on your website. Since searching for properties is what brings people to you in the first place, this is a critical plugin to get.
- WPL Real Estate: Customize your listings database without changing the entire database, and your search listings will appear on Google Maps as they’re added. You can even create your own customized iPhone or Android app with this plugin.
- Leadin: Collect all your website leads and push them right into your customer relationship management (CRM) sales software.
Tips for building a real estate website with WordPress
Once you’ve framed out your website — bought your domain name, ordered your managed hosting, and installed your theme and plugins — it’s time to finally put up your interior walls and decorate this thing.
There are a few things you want to do when you’re building your site:
Keep your audience in mind
You want to give your visitors plenty of reasons to come back. That means it has to be useful (e.g. able to search listings), and provide solid information (such as useful blog articles about buying and selling or tips on finding the right home), and it has to follow solid design principles.
Make your site neat and attractive
The navigation of your WordPress real estate site needs to be simple and limited to the few topics buyers and sellers look for.
This is where having a professional designer or a premium WordPress theme can make all the difference in the world.
Pay attention to SEO
Optimize your site with the appropriate keywords so visitors can find you: your city or the neighborhood you serve; the types of homes you specialize in; the services you offer.
Make sure your site is filled with original text, not copy-and-paste text from other websites.
Write useful articles that people will want to spend 60 seconds reading, and keep your videos to two to three minutes in length. (Note: Upfiv’s Deluxe and Ultimate Plans come with an SEO Wizard to help you get listed on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. )
Include a blog
Maybe it’s because I’m a blogger, but I think this is critical for most websites, especially real estate sites. Write articles about the neighborhoods you serve, the school ratings, the local restaurants and businesses. Write about house-search checklists and guides to finding a lender.
Ask friends to share photos and write ups about the different festivals and special events in your community. All of these things will help your site’s SEO when buyers Google more information about the community they’re thinking about living in.
Conclusion and next steps
If you want to build a successful real estate WordPress site, it’s pretty easy, and we’ve laid out the entire strategy for you.
First, select the WordPress hosting plan that’s right for you, whether it’s a Upfiv Managed WordPress Hosting plan or you buy your own server space and host it yourself.
Next, select the right WordPress theme for real estate agencies. Sure, you can use one of the free generic themes, but these themes have been created specifically for you real estate agents — take advantage of those extra capabilities!
Install the WordPress real estate plugins that will add much-needed functionality to your site. And don’t forget the general, non-real estate plugins for security, SEO and analytics. Every website should have them.
Be sure to provide great written and visual content for your website. Visitors want to read valuable information about their next home purchase or sale, so they might as well get it at your site.
Once you’ve got your WordPress site all built and ready to go, be sure to set up your professional email address and link it to your site in your email footer. You can get your professional email address when you buy your domain.
Link your website to your social pages. You can do this with your social sharing plugin, but be sure to include the domain name in your social network bios, too.
Finally, you can keep your website secure by keeping your themes and plugins updated. One way hackers can break into a real estate website with WordPress is by exploiting flaws in outdated plugins and themes. One reason the plugin/theme creators create updates is to plug these holes, so protect yourself by updating everything when it comes available.
WordPress might seem like a huge, unwieldy product to work with, but it’s the No. 1 content management site for a reason. More than 30% of the world’s websites run on it for a reason, and if it’s good enough for The New York Times and Walt Disney, it’s good enough for your own real estate agency.
This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Al Cannistra and Stephani Worts.