How do you Stand Out?
The National Association of REALTORS®, America’s largest trade association, represents 1.3 million members, comprising of residential and commercial REALTORS®, who are brokers, salespeople, property managers, appraisers, counselors, and others engaged in all aspects of the real estate industry.
There’s probably one million realtors out there, pounding the pavement, getting listings and making sales. As a realtor competing in this industry for property sales, how does one STAND OUT?
My own Realtor Website!
It starts, of course, by getting good property listings. But to get good property listings, clients need to know and trust you. So you need to establish a good brand, and be able to cast the net wider than your immediate circle of people you know.
Establishing an online presence then becomes paramount to being successful in the business. Your website becomes your virtual store and gives comfort to clients that the ‘store’ exists, you are here to stay and the listings become the ‘goods’ in the store. That provides a networking effect that multiplies a lot faster than you can do yourself in a physical world on a person to person basis.
How to get Started?
So I set out to establish my own website and promote my brand and property listings, and this is my experience in finding the right solution. Now, I’m not super technical so I was clear from the start that I wanted to use the website builders that were out there and it had to be simple to use, ideally at a price point that was reasonable. I started by making a simple list of things that was important to me:
- Easy setup, ideally with no setup fee
- Great visuals, modern responsive design with templates I can choose from
- IDX integration and MLS search
- Search Engine Optimized (SEO) ie my website would get a good google search ranking
- Easy to make updates
- Lead capture for people to leave their contacts
- Reasonable price, most website builders charge a subscription fee, I was hoping to find a reasonably priced one
Checking out Wix
With my simple list, I started my search. I did not start with a google search, I started with wix.com. Now Wix has so many advertisements running you cannot help but know about it so I thought that was a good place to start.
I went to Wix and clicked first on ‘Templates’, I wanted to see what templates they had for real estate. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see a category for real estate or property or something related. That immediately gave me the impression that Wix does not quite specialise in real estate. After I did a search for real estate templates, I finally found the templates but it was mostly single templates for a real estate company or a landing page, or a luxury real estate site so not many choices for a realtor website for me.
I tried looking for IDX/MLS integration but I could not find it, even when I looked in the Wix app market. I did check out the pricing page, and while the prices were very attractive, all less than $24.50 per month, I quickly lost interest because of the lack of IDX/MLS integration and suitable real estate templates. It also seemed that in order to get additional functions, one had to subscribe to additional apps in the apps market which would surely increase the monthly subscription fees per month. So much for starting with the well known brands!
From the Wix experience, I ruled out the other generic website builders such as Squarespace, Weebly, and GoDaddy. And the search goes on….
Placester – a real estate focused website builder
Next, I went to do a google search, and I found Placester.com. This looked promising, they were a real estate focused website builder. I looked at the templates, there were premium and basic templates, that gave me the impression that the premium templates would manifest itself into extra costs at a later stage when it came to pricing.
They seemed to have great features, including IDX integration with CRM and email marketing tools. I wasn’t sure if I would actually use the CRM tools as it had its own lead management, actions and follow-up and even email system, and I wasn’t sure how that would integrate with my own calendar and workflow which I was used to with Microsoft office.
Pricing wise, it was $99 per month with a $99 setup fee and it required an annual commitment. After reviewing the website, Placester was on the list for consideration, although I was not so keen on the annual commitment.
Ubertor – a stronger contender for a real estate focused website builder
Next up on google search was Ubertor.com. The company had started in Canada and had been around for more than 15 years and focusing on real estate websites helping sell more than 125,000 properties!
Similar to Placester, it ticked all the main boxes for what I needed. In addition, they also offered custom designs, where you could design your own custom website with their designers. I liked that option as it meant that I could start with their templates but if I felt that I needed to stand out more, I could easily customised my own website at a later stage. They also had migration services where they would help you migrate from an existing website if you needed to.
Ubertor gave me an overall vibe that while they provided some standard offerings, much like the other players, they had extra services where they would engage with you with more services to improve the website. In a world where we are rapidly moving to self service for everything, that felt quite important to me that there is still a servicing aspect I can call upon. This is especially important as a realtor we don’t have much time to do anything beyond chasing and closing sales, and it was nice to know I could get support instead of doing it all myself.
The product features also had a chatbot for capturing leads, that seemed a more modern take than the normal inquiry forms that you get, and it was another sign that the company was focused on newer technology and moving with the times.
Pricing wise, it was $79 per month with $99 setup fee and no annual commitment. That was comforting to me that the company was confident in its product to not force an annual commitment on its subscribers.
Making the Decision – Selecting Ubertor
I decided to contact Ubertor as a next step. I left a message with their chatbot, and the next day, a pleasant lady contacted me from Ubertor. She walked me through my options, and also told me that after signing up, they would have a jump start process with me to walk me through the whole process for setting up, using and maintaining the website. She assured me that a strong customer touchpoint was important to them and I could get support whenever I wanted. She did ask me whether I would be interested in custom design but did not push when I said I wanted to try the standard service first.
At the end of the call, I signed up for the service. I felt that they were very customer oriented, and the pricing was fair, and I had no annual commitment. After understanding my concerns, they also offered to help me with minor changes to the website at no extra costs!
So that was my experience finding a website for myself. In the end, while there are lots of choices out there, I found that the more generic website builders like Wix lacked the features and specialisation that realtors need on their websites. For the real estate focused website builders, generally, the features that I needed was available, the main differentiator I think should be more about the services and support. That’s why I would encourage everyone who needs a website to contact the provider, talk to them, and get a better feel for how customer oriented they are, and whether they provide a range of services that will allow you to grow with them.
In our world of real estate, we are busy professionals. We know having an online presence and website is important, but its hard to manage everything on a self service basis, and if you want something different, you don’t really want to have to switch providers and go through all the hassle. In the end, Ubertor provided the best all-around solution, with fair pricing, and great customer support.