Dear Ginny WTH,
I’m a real estate agent with my own web site and domain. I’m about to revamp my home page and I’m struggling trying to figure out first, what are the necessary components for the home page and second, what to highlight on the page. Obviously property search should standout but how much? Do people want to know about me and the value and service I provide on the home page? How prominent should my lead generation sections be? What do you suggest?
Struggling in Seattle
Recently I saw a news story about a large real estate franchise, let’s call them Best Houses & Backyards, who revamped their one year old site reducing the “amount of amount of space devoted to branding” because consumers were “very confused about what to do on the site.” Now you look at the site and it has completely lost the branding and value proposition and all you see is a great big property search box.
Property search is mainly what consumers are on your site to do, but they also want to know about the area, property values, market statistics and who you are. It has to be evident how to search for property up front, but not to the detriment of your value proposition.
You’ve got lots of examples that are good and many more that are bad. I don’t want to call anyone out, but many brokers have abandoned any value proposition on their web sites. You go onto their sites and as a consumer you can’t tell what they do that’s different than any other real estate company.
Real estate web sites tend to be a commodity in the market. In other words consumers know they can go onto any broker or agent site and see all the listings for sale in their immediate area. In this commoditized market, you need to stand out. Why would a consumer go to your site versus another? It’s going to be ease of use, variety and value of content and layout.
The site must be built on a structure of your brand and your value proposition to the consumer. Up front. Real estate agent Doug Buenz tells consumers in his banner “Real estate in Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon and the Tri-Valley.” That’s a value proposition and the consumer understands when they land there what Doug specializes in. Then he has two boxes: Find a home and Explore communities. Simple, direct, perfect.
Contrasting but still effective is Shorewest Realtors web site. Home page says, “Wisconsin’s Largest Home Seller.” Although there is a ton of information on their home page, it is found easily. I can search properties, search open houses, see market activity, search by satellite, get pre-approved, get my property value and more. As a consumer I can forgive the content overload because I would expect that Wisconsin’s largest home seller would have a lot of information to give me. The difference between local and regional, but you can learn from each.
And yet another decent example is Jordan Baris Realtors in New Jersey. I generally like to see the property search on the home page, but Jordan Baris does an excellent job at value proposition with its “Proudly serving New Jersey for over half a century” which tells me as a consumer I’m getting a solid company. I like the MLS Snapshot as a nice lead generation piece on the home page with its friendly copy and graphic layout. And notice the “List your property” button. Genius.
These are just a few of the good examples for you to analyze, but I’ll give you my rules for real estate web site home pages and what I think should be prominent:
- Interactive property search on the home page – not just a link to it
- Value proposition – what do you do or what makes you different
- Something for sellers – what’s my home worth, market snapshot, sold property search, etc.
- Open home search – if you are able to display open houses
- Lead generation – something that gives you the consumer’s contact details, i.e. listing alerts, newsletter, sold alerts, etc.
- Community information – even if you have to link it out to another web site
These are suggestions and I highly recommend you look at web sites outside of your immediate area to get ideas. Look at the simplicity of the Jordan Baris list your property button. Copying, er uh imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, isn’t it? Sorry Ken, but we’re all stealing your great idea!