Tech Tips in Philadelphia>Question Details

Barry, Real Estate Pro in Philadelphia, PA

I am a Realtor considering investing in a personal website for my business.

Asked by Barry, Philadelphia, PA Tue Jan 20, 2009

I am very skeptical of the value proposition and would like recommendations by other Realtors who have websites and believe in the investment as something that cost justifies itself.

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Answers

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O. Kheir - Dr. Oceanfront :)’s answer
The key to website visibility continues to be dependent on keywords in your content, even the pictures you use will come up in search engines, so it pays to know what you're trying to accomplish.

Make a plan

Get your tech team together

Test drive your site before it goes live

Promote your website on everything ... business cards, giveaways, gift baskets, newspaper ads, magazine spreads, blogs, virtual tours, yard signs etc... the list goes on ... and on ...

Link to only those whom you know... and keep linking yourself to yourself (buy more sites)

Don't stop with just one website, make niche sites once you get the first success (commission)

Bottom line - website marketing TAKES TIME and MONEY!

But, if done in earnest, it has an exceptional return on your investment....

Google, Yahoo, MSN and other search engines (most don't matter except the BIG ones) treat your website differently, so you may require the assistance of a competent webmaster to "tweak" some of your sites for specific search engines.

Good selling!

O. Kheir
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
I may run out of room before I give you all this info but since I have spent the past year learning and experimenting with different sites and ways of building my web presence, I will try to share some of what I have learned.
First, try going to Active Rain. Here's my profile there:
http://activerain.com/mariamorton
(you may have to copy and paste) you can register on Active Rain (free) and then make one blog, join the Newbies on Active Rain group, and read other people's blogs. This has been a great source of knowledge for me. There are some very tech savvy realtors who share their knowledge with us and you can contact them by email or phone for specific questions. You will also find out about the latest marketing tools coming on and how the search engines change the way they rank us. There is also a Localism component that allows you to increase your standings for your particular state, county, city, and even neighborhoods. It's a lot to take in.
Then there is Google which offers (free) blogspot.com http://kcmaria.blogspot.com/ - no interaction with other realtors and less control over the pictures you post but worth a look. You can link one site to another too. And if you twitter http://twitter.com/mariamorton?page=2 you can have updates posted from one site to another without doing a thing. There are even cool widgets you can place on either site for people to click on for various info and link back and forth, do RSS feeds, and just about anything you can imagine.
Advanced Access http://www.mariatmorton.com/ will build you the basic site and host it for around $99/mo. For another 1 or 200/mo, they will provide an SEO guy who will get you on the first page of a Google search. Point2, mentioned below, is another company that many agents use. There are a few others. You'll want an IDX with your site to allow searches for properties by visitors. Your broker may need to sign a form to allow your local MLS to feed the site. If you have a site through your broker, you can also create a link to that site for property searches. And you'll lead capture form on your site and a good follow up method.
When I was trying to decide which company to use, I clicked on 100's of agent sites and scrolled to the bottom to see which company they were using. Then I checked out those companies sites and phoned them to see what they had to offer me at what price. Check them out for yourself before you commit.
Stay away from Market Leader (used to be House Values) They are a nightmare from hell.
You can get a domain name from GoDaddy.com (around $20/year) Once you have the domain name, you can point it to any site you want. That's another learning experience. GoDaddy is great to work with. You always get a human being to talk to on the phone and they are pleasant, helpful and knowledgeable. Ditto Advanced Access.
Other things you can do are answering questions on Trulia and Zillow, posting your listings everywhere, and print advertising to let people know your site is there. Try Postlets.com if you aren't already using it. You can copy the code and post little ads on all of your blogs and/or webs. Postlets will put your ad on over a dozen sites. You can also post it to Craigslist using the code. Something people really like is the place on my website that I put ALL of the OPen Houses in Kansas City on every week. I have to manually copy from MLS every week but then when I tell people at open houses that they can go there, they really like it because it saves them time.
Realtor.com will sell you a "preferred package" for ~$20or30/mo. It's not as customizable as some, but a lot of people look there. They also have a foreclosure lead capture site/system that you can buy for 5 or 600/mo.
I'm running out of characters and time. Most important: must be able to attract/direct traffic to your site.
Must be able to capture contact information.
Must have valuable content on your site or blog.
Must respond in less than two hours to all inquiries. The sooner the better.
Must be patient as potential buyers become comfortable with you. (internet leads can take 6months to 2years to mature).
Barry, I hope this was somewhat useful. Please feel free to call or email for more information. Thanks, Maria.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Thoughtful and useful information here!
Flag Tue Feb 25, 2014
Hi Barry:

I've done a good amount of research on the website topic. I have been kicking around the idea of creating a website, but I personally don't like all of the "cookie cutter" style informational websites that exist. So here are some of my thoughts on the whole "agent website":

1) Real estate websites have become a way for agents to publish THEIR listings and THEIR resume to the world. And while some have a very nice presentation and make it interesting, the large majority "cut & paste" to a pre-formatted page. Some agents do take it a step further and link up on an IDX or broker reciprocity feeds (which is nice), but it's hard to compete with sites like Trulia.com, Realtor.com and other established names.

2) Efficiency is a huge concern of mine - how easy will it be for your audience to land on your site? How long will they stay there? A website can be a valuable tool to get information to the public but its more important that people are able to find the website. "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO) is just as important as the quality of your site and ease of navigation.

3) Last, but not least, is it's effectiveness. What will your site offer to the public that other sites don't? Why will consumers want to come back to your site? And how can you deliver this without using tons of time and money!? In this "commodity service" business of ours, how do YOU diferentiate your business and website from MY business and website and vice-versa? AKA, a novel presentation is what we look for to differentiate ourselves (From the eyes of the consumer). That doesn't mean having a "clever" URL! Create a reason for consumers to remember your site - I'll call it "the bookmark effect".

I personally don't think that a website is one of those things that makes us successful -- In fact, the success in our business would make our website more popular. So while a website can be a fun, attractive, and tech-friendly addition to our personal businesses, there are many more cost-effective marketing methods that we can stick to (like Trulia!). And if you decide to open a website, be careful how much you invest, it may never end. Shoot me an email if you have any questions or comments, thanks!


Fred Santilli
Prudential Fox & Roach, REALTORS®
530 Walnut Street, Suite 260
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Off: 215-627-6005 | Fax: 215-627-3142 | Dir: 215-440-2389 | fjsantilli@gmail.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
Hi Barry,

Find someone that knows how to give you a customizable website AND take video. Video gets your site good rankings in the seqarch engines. Your site needs to have its content relevant (provide good information that people actually want to read, informative to those out of State AND to those in State and be changed at least once per month but preferably every 2 weeks of so and remain informative. Incoming links from reputable sites that would have some association (relevance) to the info on your site is important too for SE rankings. I am The POPE OF REALTY and you can find my website designer in the person of Fred Light. See me at http://www.ThePopeofRealty.com especially if you like horse properties
see http://www.nashuavideotours.com/virtualtours/sample/templeho… or country homes.

Good luck!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Good Morning Barry!
I personally use Point2 as my web site provider and have three main sites(professional level because of the benefits)(syndication to 75 Real Estate portals,email, statistics,blog, message board, # of pictures allowed, etc. etc.). Like another commentor, I have multiple registered Domain Names specific to my LOCAL AREA, which are ALL Primary Search Terms. Be sure to register your own personal Name "Barry*********.com. and when you register the website domain name and your personal Name as a domain name, register them for 5 years at a time or longer! "KEY POINT!" (your sites will gain search engine recognition quicker!

Make a PLAN! even if its just in your head, but my advice, put it on paper! so you don't forget it, or so you can make adjustments. Think of your website as the HUB of a wheel, each spoke is a connection, make your connections do the work for you; or each spoke brings you prospective clients.

I suggest Point2 for multiple reasons, but if you would like more information contact me directly via my Coldwell Banker email and please include your question so that I have a reference.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Follow the top ranked sites. Go to Google or Yahoo put in a top ranked name and open the sites to see who the provider is. I am a first page site that does it the old fashion way. Hook up one of those providers and add your IDX. The rest is spending time tweaking it. I use Advanced Access and they are very helpful in accomplishing your goal.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Hi Barry,
In today's real estate market you must have a website. There are few ways you can proceed. From really basic websites to more elaborate ones. The cost/benefit ratio is what you should use in making a decision of how much to spend. If you think you can generate leads by a cool, informative website, then it is definitely a good investment. It can go from $100.00 to thousands. Some companies have their own version with different templates you can make use of. Prudential is one of them : ) Or you can use third party ones like top producer websites. All of them will have a monthly cost tho. Usually around $50.00

Good luck.
Leonardo
Web Reference: http://www.leonardoteam.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Marketing your site, provided it has a catchy name like mine, is the key to it all. You must employ video, great photos, an IDX feed for users to search for listings and it has to provide easy links to social media sites and those sites back to your website. Interior page content matters too and needs to be refreshed every so often and it must be relevant to your audience. Links to your site need to reference interior page content and those pages must be keyword relevant to the topic they cover. Keep it one topic to one page. The use of video should not be limited to the home page. Blogging on sites like Activerain or Real Town help with SEO placement in the search engines. Google sniffs out fluff real fast, so make new content relevant and by that I mean provide local content that others are not providing. Blog about it, have a page on your site that features this or that local feature of your community, point to it through social media, tweet about it... THEN you will get viewers AND you can use it as a marketing tool to get listings. Postcards, car magnets, local newspaper reminders about your site, digital signage on local billboards... it is all centered around the site, but the site needs to be centered about offering the public, the real estate consumers, something of value, not fluff. Do do all this, you need to employ the chip away at it approach, but first you need to get the site up there. I can recommend a website, SEO savvy techie RE person to do your site if you approach me offline.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jun 2, 2013
http://www.loansinteractive.com/ is a very affordable and flexible easy to use website specifically for real estate. As far as a website being worth the outlay goes, you have to get the website to your prospects. If you get a site and do not promote it, nobody will see it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Oh, yeah. Do stop by the agent blog site at P2A.

http://www.reliberation.com/blogs/Default.aspx
Web Reference: http://Ask4Greg.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
Well, Barry, that's the last time I give an endorsement. My "free" standard verison web site with P2A is now going to cost me $10 per month. That Saul is a real cheap guy. Aw, heck. I know some agents who have like ten of his free sites and man, are they gunna b mad. Good luck with your site and whatever you do - Do not take your real estate "company" web site as the one you market on your business cards. Always keep the one the company makes you use and your own separate.
Web Reference: http://GregoryBain.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 4, 2009
alamode.inc I believe is the best.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Go for it! The linc exchanges that take place amongst Realtors across the Nation serve as a valuable referral source. Furthermore, your clients can use your built in search engine opposed to Realtor.Com. You will then capture leads and grow your territory.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Hi Barry,
Although as realtors, we do need a website to brand ourselves and give our clients a page to land on and do property searches, I think it's significantly more important how we drive traffic to that website. I have a software background and use to spend hours doing search engine optimization. I finally found a solution that is way better, gets my website registered to 100s of search engines, AND pushes my ads out to may different websites. I have had over 200 unique hits in the last couple of weeks from 20 different sites without me spending hours in the middle of the night blogging and doing geeky things. The cost is minimal - way less than any postcard campaign I've done. You can get additional info and see some client testimonials at: http://bpastore05.localadlink.net/presentaion.asp. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at RE@MaryPastore.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
We've had 3 websites thus far: Alamode, Advanced Access and Real Estate Webmasters. We still have the Alamode site, but by far the best is with Real Estate Webmasters. It is our store front and we are proud of it. We've had a major increase in traffic and those people are staying on the site and using it! That's huge! Check out their site at http://www.realestatewebmasters.com, find the number and ask for Morgan Carey and see if he can talk you out of it. :)
Web Reference: http://www.CathyMeder.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Barry,

I don't think it is a question of if a web site is esential, it is more how many web sites do you need. I have 4 web site right now but I have had as many as 6. I have only paid for one. I have a point 2 homes site, http://www.Move2Klamath.com which was free but is now going to cost about $10 per month for the sandard site. Point 2 has great tools and syndication with other real estate sites and portals but it does not do much for branding as Terri Hayley indicated with most template sites. I also have an Advanced Access site, http://www.KlamathHome.com which is a great site with marketing tips drip campaigns and it is totally customizible with an infanite number of combinations of templates, colors, themes and disigns all of which can be tweeked and changed. You can ad tools and links and the AA team will help you with anything you need. Both of these two site are doing very well in the searches. The other sites that I have had are just sites for branding like my CRS site or my Coldwell Banker Site. I think most custom sites are more expensive and difficult to change as the need arises.
Now that you have a web site buy multiple domains to direct buyers to a buyers page sellers to a seller page investers to an investers page and so on for whatever type client you have maybe comercial or land. You should have a primary domain that has something to do with your business and you should have your name for marketing and branding. You can get domains for $10 on godaddy.com and point them to a page for $50.

Once you have your site up the easy part is done. You need to change the stock content you need to build relevant pages, city pages, and other informational pages about the area. Don't make it an online business card. People are not going to go to the site to learn about you they want to see houses and find out about the area. You need to ad links and optimize the site so that it can be found in a search. I would recomend hiring agood optimization company or person to get it started. Just having a web site is like having a star in the Milkyway, If no one can find it you will be for the most part wasting your time and money. You will need to either continue to spend either time or money and likely both to get a good return for the money.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me at Ron@KlamathHome.com
Web Reference: http://www.KlamathHome.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
I'm pleased to see so many other agents use Point2Agent. I've had my website with them for 1 1/2 years. I started out with the free version and after a year I upgraded to Professional and was amazed at the flexibility and the amount of tracking data received. Well worth the $49. I get enough leads from my site to keep me busy. As another agent mentioned, the amount of your domain is active is important as well and updated your content. The search engines like domains that have been around for awhile.
Web Reference: http://www.landinjax.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Honestly, you can spend as little or as much as your budget allows. Heard great things about Point2 - my company provides our websites. But I think you need to be prepared to spend some money on the google adwords or other pay per click. I spend about $50-$100/mo on google adwords and as long as I can close one lead, it's more than paid for itself. Web presence is essential considering over 85% of home buyers begin their search online!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Barry,

I've tried several different website hosts for various amounts of money. I now have Point2 Professional and really like it. I like all the landing pages to capture e-mail leads, all the drip campaigns they already have (of course I added my own), the handshake listings and I've just added "TREND"''s new IHouse so customers can search TREND. Take a look at my site and I'd appreciate any feedback. It's http://www.BerksHomeBuying.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
If you get one of those sites that all the other Realtors get, what's to differentiate you from the pack except your contact information? In my humble opinion, I've found that those professionals get lost in the milieu of the web. Check it out on Alexa. You'll see what I mean. I don't mean to offend anyone who has one of those sites, it's just that it could be a lot better for a relatively lower cost. Contact Jennifer Bagley at jbagley@thecomplimentscard.com and tell her I sent you.

Thanks,
Terri
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Point2 is an excellent service. I have had a site through this company for over a year. The costs initially is FREE. This gives you an opportunity to create original contant and learn the system before you begin any investment at all. Then there are varying levels of service to choose from. Of course you get what you pay for. If you would like to test drive a site with point2 I can e-mail you a start up page. You can reach me through my profile here or from my site below.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Barry,
Two schools of thought on that, extensive planning and custom site or dive into something simple/templated that you can tweak yourself as your idea of what you want changes.
You can have either an alamode.com or Point 2 agent (agent.point2.com) website up in less than an hour. Both are a good starting point and let you add listings pretty easily. Whatever you start with you will change it over time anyway, so you might want to start with one that is easy to set up and free or close to it while you explore and learn. Most have templated designs, Pick a clean design that has intuitive navigation.

Once you have something basic up and running, think about lead capture 'landing' pages, and how you might drive people to those. This can be part of the same sight, or a satellite. Here is an example of one I set up: Zero Down Homes in Fairfield County Connecticut: http://www.LovelyFairfieldHomes.com

After you have the lead capture pages figured out, and before you start promoting them, think about how you are going to respond to your guests. A good autoresponder, combined with some well thought out messaging goes a long way.

IDX feed from your site may be important to you, as it will keep your brand in front of your clients when they search, unlike realtor.com web pages (hosted by TopProducer, whose higher end sites have some great features).

Best of luck to you.

John Queenan
Web Reference: http://www.JohnQueenan.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
I just read your question on trulia regarding websites, and I want to refer you to Bill Boyer and eWebEngine.

In May of 2008, our office decided to change web providers and move from an eNeighborhoods platform provided to us for free by RE/MAX International. We had several Realtors who had migrated from another RE/MAX office, and in separate meetings/interviews, they all asked "Do you have eWeb? It really works." The answer at that time was of course no.

At their suggestion, we contacted Bill Boyer (President of eWebEngine) and invited him for a meeting, and we were immediately sold. It was refreshing that his presentation dealt specifically with how leads are generated in Cyberspace and how eWeb understands and capitalizes on it. Our listings are syndicated automatically to approximately 25 + listing portals as part of their service, and that internet exposure creates more leads than anything we've ever done in the past. In addition, their customer service is absolutely phenomenal . . . there's nothing they won't do for us. They have a positive "can do" attitude. They answer the phone, and they help. Amazing.

Bill Boyer's info:

Bill Boyer, President
eWebEngine
770.529.2972
BBoyer@eWebEngine.com
http://www.eWebEngine.com

You may also want take a look at our office website http://www.AtlantaCommunities.net. Individual eWeb sites for our Realtors are optional because many of our associates want to do their own thing. But they're learning . . . I'm currently adding about 5 a month to the eWebEngine platform as I continue to educate them on the value.

If it's helpful, please feel free to contact me at 770.858.6565 or by email MarkHall@AtlantaCommunities.net. I'll be glad to answer all your questions in-depth one on one! Best of luck to you as you move forward with your web project.

Thanks,

Mark Hall
Managing Broker, Realtor®, e-PRO®
RE/MAX Communities Metro Atlanta GA
770.858.6565 Office
770.356.8787 Cell
MarkHall@AtlantaCommunities.net
e-PRO the Way to Go
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Thank you to all for such detailed and terrific feedback. My new site is with Point2agent.com. My website is http://www.BlundinHomes.com. Check it out and offer feedback if you would like. I like the "handshake" agreement where your postings go on other agents sites and vice versa. Thank you again for the feedback!
Web Reference: http://www.BlundinHomes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Not getting into the why or why not. This has been answered. I use loansinteractive.com. I am not selling nor do I have a financial interest.
You can get a very professional site up within 15 minutes. Now they have pricing options but one is that is buried is one for 120 for the year including hosting, email, and all the good stuff.

Hope this helps
Tony
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Honestly, after looking at Apple computers today, I think the easiest and most economical is to do it yourself.
No longer do you have to pay for a template or learn Dreamweaver. It is all just too easy - or so it seems to do it with the Apple software. For $99 you can have Apple host the site for an entire year. Of course, the initial investment is high, but some of these web masters are just as high, if not higher. Or, is Apple making it look too easy to be true!!!!!! Is does look like fun though. PS: I have a site http://www.mpliving.com, but at $49 a month I think I might be getting ripped off. However, I have had the domain name for quite some time and am reluctant to change - plus I was dumb and did not get in writing that the domain name would be registered to me - not to the company that prepared the site! Make sure you get the domain name registered in your own name no matter what steps you take.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Hi Barry,

I currently use Point 2 Agent. I like it because it looks nice, is economical, has good reports and is easy to use. (Much easier than Alamode) If money were not an issue for me right now, I really liked propertyminder. They have beautiful websites, excellent customer service and you have the ability to see what listings your clients are looking at...and if they go back and look at a listing again and again. Z57 was very good, but pricey...kept having to shell out more money to change things. I have yet to use the upgraded Point 2 Agent, but I"m sure it is very good.
Web Reference: http://www.karenburns.net
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Nothing beats the value proposition of online marketing. A mix of traditional (print), radio, TV and online advertising work best together. But the Internet is a great ENTRY LEVEL way of being an active agent, not a SECRET agent. You do want customers to call you, right?

so, go ahead and invest in your business:

I have over 400 domain names already registered and in one day I sold over $1.5 million from Internet leads. (I think I MAY have paid for my websites with steady commission checks.)

Consider the strengths of online marketing:

1. Buyers key in the name or address of a property for more information. That show interest on their part at the very least. Desire is the first step to a commission check.

2. Print ads get stale and pitched in the garbage after a reading or two, your beautiful glossy ad that cost $500-$1000 becomes litter. What a shame and waste of money.

3. Websites can be very interactive and extremely compelling. Motion and audio are irreplaceable.

4. Online search engines will find you if you build a content rich site. Text is king! Some websites built in FLASH are just that... A mixture of relevant content and aesthetic design works best.

5. As a web designer (over 80 sites live) I can only encourage and recommend that you get partnered with a reputable firm.

6. Choose your domain names wisely... don't skimp, more is better! If you want proof of how important a domain name is ... Google the following: Daytona REO While I have not uploaded a single word to the site, it ranks # 1 in Google for the keywords I chose.

7. The real estate business is LOCAL. But, my buyers look me up and call me from several continents because I specialize in luxury oceanfront condos - resort style living at the World's Most Famous Beach.

8. Be careful - an Internet novice and their money will surley part ways. Don't give your wallet to ANY ONE promising a top rank in any search engine. A number one rank is achieved the old fashioned way - through relevant content, constant updating, and SEO secrets (trial and error).

9. I have tried most "canned websites" - Alamode and others. A custom built website is still best, represnts your image, and is unique - JUST LIKE YOU.

10. Chances are the first website you get will not work alone, but, you may get lucky and make one sale - this will get you hooked!

Does ANY other advertising do this?

Last Saturday morning I got an email from a website lead (came to my Palm during an open house) - I called the prospects back and invited them to my open house that afternoon. We spent an hour narrowing down what they wanted in their vacation home. I chose 3 oceanfront condos to show. They liked the LAST one I showed. We drove back to my office and I wrote up the deal in 3 hours!

No matter what.... enjoy the journey!
Web Reference: http://OKheir.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Hi Barry,

I had assumed that most all agents had a website. Things that are required to be a REALTOR, License - Check, Business Cards - Check, Website - What no Website? With well over half the buyers starting their home search online this should be considered a suped-up business card for you.

There are so many options to chose from and all have their good and bad values but one of the best values that I have found recently is a company called Realty Soft. They give you a website and syndicate your listings and if that's not enough they throw in a free IDX (IDX could cost you an additional fee with most other sites) The free listing syndication alone makes the site worth it. (Trulia Included)

Or you could always host the whole thing on your own with this great wordpress application. http://www.revolutiontwo.com/themes/agent No need to pay monthly fees just a $59.99 one time cost and plug-in your contact. hosting not included but runs only $20 for the year

Good Luck Man
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Hi Barry,

Do you know how many people search the web now before buying a home? It's in the 80's percentile. And, for the generation entering the workforce now, it's 100%. Do you want to be in front of these people when they're looking for a home?? I picked up someone last week just from our website wanting to buy a new home in a very nice price range for this area.

My husband is a former CTO, so he created our site. However, I can refer you to someone who can not only help you create a website, but also teach you how to manage and update it. Their group just did one for a Realtor out in MS and outranked his website he'd had for 7 years in about 3 weeks time! They're really great at what they do.

Hope it helps,
Terri Hayley
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Hi Barry:

I have a website currently. There are a lot of great tips from other Realtors. I want to say that you have to have a definate plan on how to market it and who to market it to. Keeping it simple is the best advise I can give. If you give too much information in your website, they might pass you up. But you don't want to give too little either. I give what is valuable to the buyer or seller. For Example...What is happening now...Tax Credit for buyers. So having that available is great. I gear my website for first time buyers, since my market is calling for that. Key word search is very worth it. I have & have not done it, and I notice a real difference. I have received calls from the website on the back of my car (my name is the website there), then the buyer googles it and finds my website. I also have CincyHouseExpert as another domain.

Answering questions in Trulia and blogging makes you rank higher in the search engines. Have a strategy of what words that are powerful and common enough that someone would search and find you right there on the first page. Then when you are blogging or answering questions in Trulia, make sure that you put your website and use the wording that will capture the buyer/seller on the search engine.

You can purchase many domain names. First you need to see if it is available at http://www.betterwhois.com Then you have to factor web hosting. The higher the price, the more secure the server should be. My husband's company hosts websites on a more secure server and hosting is $80 per year.

Good luck in the process of your website. It is fun!
Sheri Mapes the "Cincy House Expert"
sheri.mapes@cbws.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
To be honest, I was as sketical as you and finally launched a web site. The best part is that the site is free but it is not fully equipped with all of the goodies such as search engine optimization, etc. I have not yet decided to upgrade the site to have all the bells and whistles but intend to do that at some point this year. For now I have a capability to put up 10 pages of "stuff", change it around and play with the ideas. If you don't want to jump in all the way right away try http://www.alamode.com. You can get a feel for it by visiting my site and looking around. http://www.WaltTyoCapeCodHomes.com. I use it in the current fashion to have my existing or new clients be able to refer to material on the site before we even meet but this is a limited approach to the web site gurus.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
Barry,
Looks like some great feedback on this topic all the way around the horn. I think before you jump into which website company, you have to do some good planning ahead of time. The plan doesn't have to be fancy, and I do like the whole concept of SEO in an hour a day.

Map out a simple plan though.

1. How much time will you dedicate to it? - An hour a day sounds great, but alot of people say they will go to the gym an hour a day and give up after the first week. Start with a small goal (maybe it's just 2 hours a week at first) and then go from there.
2. How much will you invest? - SEO takes time, if you want quick results, do Pay Per Click. Avoid the mistakes most people make by Reading Ultimate Guide to Google Adwords by Perry Marshall (http://www.perrymarshall.com ), it's awesome and you can get it at Amazon.
3. Map out 10-15 Pages - Write out simple subject lines that will cover your first 10-15 pages of your website. Not "About Us" pages, area pages that will convert leads from Day 1.
4. Look for a Web Vendor - Some of the ones listed here are great. Look at other sites in your area, and check out other companies like DiverseSolutions, and Ubertor as they specialize and have some powerful real estate websites out there.

Can't wait to hear how your progress goes.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
It is critical to have a personal real estate site as a Broker. How else will people find you as they begin their house search. You may be one of the few with a site in your particular area. You may offer local expertise by having a site. Go for it!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
No matter how much you save on monthly costs, if you aren't doing business from your website, who cares? I have had my Advanced Access site for 7 years, and I do about 10 sales a year directly from my site. I enjoy working on it, and have added lots of local links and other information that doesn't come with the template. Customer service is pretty good, although in the beginning (before they grew so big) it was stellar. I can count on maybe 3 fingers the times in 7 years that the site has "gone down". I do wish AA would modernize to be more like Point2Agent in the automatic distribution of listings to other sites (Trulia, etc.). But with the business I"ve had from my site, I'm not complaining. Maybe others are doing 100s of sales per year with their sites?? Right. Whatever you choose, USE it and make it work for you. Good luck!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
I use Point 2 Agent. I started with their upgraded product, but when times got tough, I switched to their basic- only 10.00 a month! It's very good, and you can upgrade when /if you want to include more reports- but I get virtual tours, listings management and syndication- for 10 bucks! It's simple, but it does the job. I do get refferals off of it. Check it out....

We did use Advance Access for years- but I felt I needed more technical training as a programmer to use it. Point 2 is point and click. Good Luck!
Gina - Georgia
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 3, 2009
I use loansinteractive.com. It is very cost effective. Also if you want a free blog go to activerain.com. Great info and its helps get your page rank high on google quick. Check out my blog at http://www.activerain.com/blogs/tgrego. My website is http://www.getmyratequote.com

Thanks
Tony
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 22, 2009
Wordpress! Our team is making multiple offers today from leads we've generated using a wordpress blog. 2 of which are in the $1 million dollar range. If you don't have time to blog, then go cookie cutter. What's the difference between cookie cutter and custom? Just your time and money. I worked for Z57 and sold their template sites for years. You can customize the look really well too. I still use one today and it still pumps out some biz here and there, but nearly as much as what I get for free using Wordpress.
Web Reference: http://stroupecondoblog.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 22, 2009
Hey BArry - good question!!!
I use these guys: agentbizz-up and provide a link to their site from mine. After using them for a few years I have noticed I save an enormous amount of cost than my previous sites AND spend that on online promotion!!!
I have a couple of agents/brokers taken my suggestion for this site and they are happy with the savings too...
Try $8.98 per mth for a totally customizabel site for real estate agents... http://www.PaHotListings.com - hope that helps you save too!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
Barry;
Depends on the value proposition of the company you work for. If they have a strong web presence and you receive internet leads, I wouldn't bother with an individual site.
If you were going to venture into internet lead generation, my personal suggestion would be to create a hyper-local blog to allow consumers to find you when they look for information about your area. I think you would find that exposure in that arena has greater potential to generate business.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
a la mode provides a free website for as long as you want to use it. https://www.alamode.com/ you can upgrade it when you are ready. they start you out with ten pages.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
My recomendation is point2agent. I used the free version for a long time then went to the lowest pay for level. I switched briefly to another company that was incredibly more expensive. Big mistake and a waste of money. Point2 doesn't charge a huge set up fee and the monthly fee is very low. You can customize it however you want. There is a lot of freedom with what you put up there without having to pay them to do it for you. Also they have the listings handshake which allows you to display more listings than just your own. Works sort of like a mini MLS. You will get out of it what you put into it. The bulk of my new business comes from my website. I find converting leads to business is about keeping in touch with them and cultivating them. When you purchase the paid for level it tracks your visitors for you and you can judge more effectively what is working and what is not. Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
Hi Barry,

Point2agent.com will help you for a while. It is free for six months and the $10 month after that, and you can upgrade at anytime. You will have to work with it, however if you use it correctly and market yourself you should do OK.


Peter
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
I had a very expensive website a couple of years ago. It was an excellent site. Clients would have to enter contact details to get free reports. You could customize links and have a link to your IDX. I also paid for adwords on Google and Yahoo. The site generated a lot of leads but they were mostly hostile leads. These people wanted the free information but did not want to be contacted. Most of them were interested in the foreclosure reports. I switched to blogs (free). One on foreclosures http://(www.buygeg.com), one on duplexes http://(www.duplexgeg.com). I initially put short ads in the paper to drive traffic to these and now the traffic is increasing though I haven't advertised since October. The leads I get from there are not nearly as many (no requirement to register to get information), but they are much warmer leads.
Web Reference: http://www.duplexgeg.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
Barry,

All Long and Foster Real Estate Agents get a website which can be customized. Our listings are pulled and put under current listings and we have the IDX search capability as well as some parts can be customized. You can see my website at http://www.SeanDawes.com for right now.

But if you are looking for something unique to yourself, then the cost will reflect it. Learning html on your own can be a difficult task as entry level html programmers will be reflected in your end result. I can write html but I find it is best to have someone else do it and then you can go in and edit things yourself with the beginners knowledge of the code. Adding pics, text etc.

feel free to email me at sean.dawes@longandfoster.com if you have any other questions
Web Reference: http://www.SeanDawes.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
Barry,

I believe that having a website is important. It shows your clients that you have your own site. You can use the site for everything from blogs to local community news to events that are coming up to polls. The more information you put on it with local answers, the better.

The problem with websites, like my own, is that the owners of the site does not get involved with it much. My site is pretty much a "canned" site. I am in the process of upgrading the look of it by learning HTML. There are plenty of free resources out there to help.

Another good part of owning a site is the tax deduction. Owning a site does not cost all that much. Getting a domain name can cost $10. Getting web hosting can cost as little as $19 per month depending on the features. If you want IDX intergration, then your best bet is to use the same hosting as your broker. They may be able to connect the IDX at minimal cost. Going IDX with a different host can be pricy. One with the host and secondly with Trend.

Hope that helps.

Terrence Charest, e-Pro®
REALTOR®
Century 21 Associates
905 Easton Road
Willow Grove, PA 19090
Cell (Preferred): 267.614.1494
Office: 215.659.5250
Fax: 215.659.5550
tcharest@HomesForFreedom.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
Barry we have to have websites; but the costs to get a good ranking is hard to justify; using google adwords cost me a bundle before I relaized what was going on; for a few out of control months I did get alot of traffic and some leads but did not generate closings. I know my website is awesome, but who cares if it isn;t viewed. You must get a good IT person, and I would try signing up with top name sites like this one, and then specific target sites like Homes.com; of course join an idx search and sign up for broker reciprocity; exchange links with other sites, and contiue to submit. There is an art to what heading to use and content wording, I would encourage you to research all of this. It is a very tough market as far as getting traffic to your site; but you must have one; and when you create it use an easy format to load change and up date; I have found out too that we need to keep the home page limited to displays and not so wordy. No one is going to read our mission statments and profiles they want to see inventory. Wish you the best of luck. My site is http://www.georgiapropertyLLC.com.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
http://www.point2agent.com was once free for standard and I don't know what they charge for the professional. Why not sign up for the standard and if you want to upgrade to the professional you can do that after you test it out.
Web Reference: http://GregoryBain.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
It is completely worth the time, energy, and money put into your business to have a website! There are many tools you can offer your home buyers and sellers, like property searches, maps, mortgage calculators, even a blog. It is well worth it! Our real estate team has gotten many leads and clients from our website. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 20, 2009
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