Real estate websites, in and of themselves, don’t generate leads. Traffic funneled to a website with quality conversion tools will generate leads. You can have the best website in the world but if you are not getting traffic, your website is equivalent to “a tree that falls in the forest with nobody around to hear it”.

I have chosen this subject today because there is confusion in the marketplace. I see Realtors asking about websites in the various Facebook real estate technology groups such as Tech Support Group for Real Estate Agents, Lab Coat Agents, Tech Savvy Real Estate Agents, and What Should I Spend My Money On, just to name a few.

When asking people for their opinions on which website company to go with, you really need to understand the qualifiers so that you can compare apples to apples. You have a number of categories:

Sites Provided by Your Brokerage or Franchise Brokerage – As a new agent with a minimal budget, take and use every tool your brokerage throws at you. With a smaller brokerage, you may simply have a bio page within their website. With the national brokerages, you will always be offered a website through the brokerage which will have all of your data, listings, and the office listings. Usually these sites will be free or you will pay a small monthly fee for their use. You would register a domain and point it there. The disadvantages might include not having control over your personal branding, not having a blog, and YOUR listing pages might not show up in the search engines. Lastly, if you ever leave that brokerage, you will be starting all over. You don’t own your site.

Sites Provided by Marketing Companies – When you are looking to obtain a website, you will hear people speaking about such companies as Boomtown, Zurple, Tigerleads, Commissions Inc., just to name a few. These really aren’t website development companies. They are lead generation companies that provide their clients websites as long as they maintain their marketing agreement. If you have a marketing budget and want to hire a company to deliver leads via a managed pay per click campaign (PPC), it is a great idea to invest in these tools. If you go with a PPC lead generation site, you should still maintain your own branded website that will develop an online history. If you leave that marketing company and you are starting all over, you don’t own your site, but these companies generate leads. There are also companies that generate listing leads and they may have containers tied to their marketing plan.

Do It Yourself Sites – You are a Realtor and your expertise is in the real estate industry. In addition to all of the usual old school marketing you are doing, you are trying to be tech savvy. Some of you ARE tech savvy Realtors and manage your time wisely, but there are still times when you should hire a professional. More times than not, when I am looking at DIY sites, the IDX is integrated incorrectly. The listing pages are not indexing. You have a bunch of worthless widgets. I see the value in hiring professionals, which is why I have never thrown up a sign in front of my house that says “For Sale by Owner”. And WIX? A huge mistake!

Super Cheap Sites – You get what you pay for.

Sites You Are Renting – Have you ever used the real estate marketing term, “Why Rent When You Can Own”? On the one hand, it can be cost effective to rent a website, but at some point you are going to move on. History is everything. Google loves history. Google loves expansion. Google loves to see blogging every week. Google wants to upgrade your site at some future point, and you will not be starting over.

There are some companies out there that might lead you to believe that you own the site they are SELLING you because the setup fee is $1500.00 or more, but there is a good chance that site is on a shared site network and you are actually renting it. They host the site and provide some proprietary calls to action (CTA’s) and maybe their own IDX. If you choose to leave their hosting, you might be surprised to hear that they can’t just hand you the site. Or maybe you want to create a custom page using unique JavaScript, only to be told that they do not allow this on your/their website. Some of our new reputation clients have sites that do not allow our feedback code. I am not saying rental sites are bad. I have, in fact, sold hundreds of these sites with another company and they were a great value. If you have no time to blog, create content, or to create custom listing pages, however, this might be for you.

The Bottom Line

When you ask other real estate agents for their website recommendations, understand the different types of sites.

If you are just looking for leads, owning a website without traffic and CTS’s that convert is nothing more than a billboard. If you want leads, consider a lead generation company or managed PPC directing prospects to your container, providing it converts.

I recommend OWNING a WordPress website if within your budget. The search engines love WordPress. It is easy to create content and add pages. The sites have blogs and there are so many tools (Plugins) that can be used for marketing.

We provide many options for our reputation clients. Internally and for a reasonable budget, we would acquire an Agent Evolution template. This is plug-and-play ready for IDX Broker, and we would customize the buildup as a Dev-Partner. If we saw a need that required a major custom build, we might collaborate with Virtual Results.

There are many options within your control.

CJ Hays – Follow me on Twitter



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