Technology changes fast, and real estate website design trends are no different. Design elements and website features that were once modern and innovative may have become tired, overdone, and clichéd in recent years. The last thing you want as people arrive at your site is a decline in conversion because your website looks outdated or ignores critical features to deliver an outstanding user experience.
COVID-19 has rapidly sped up the adoption of a number of website features that have previously been used by only a small number of real estate businesses. The adoption of digital tools during the pandemic has also fostered the introduction of some exciting new website features.
Fortunately, our award-winning web design team keeps up with all the latest website design and development trends to create highly functional, very profitable and easy-to-use websites that perform well and look fantastic. We want to share some of the latest real estate website innovations, digital technology trends, standards, and forecasts for 2022.
They’ve existed on third-party platforms for years, but instant property estimate generators are now making their way onto more and more real estate office websites as a lead generation tool while educating real estate consumers on the factors that may determine the value of their property at any given time.
Warwick Williams Real Estate in Sydney showcase this feature the moment a user lands on their home page.
Utilising the Domain API, home sellers can obtain an instant property estimate, based on real-time data along with an in-depth overview of comparable sales, suburb demographics, market performance and more.
The call-to-action is also strategically placed throughout the website to capture leads…
If you’re thinking “Those property estimate generators are so inaccurate. I’d never put that on my website.”, you’re not alone. Many real estate businesses think the same way.
But here’s the thing… they have existed on other websites for many years for the purpose of lead generation. And homeowners are using them – a lot.
By putting this experience on your own website, you are not just attracting lots more curious home sellers. If done right, you are getting an opportunity to educate homeowners on the benefits and accuracy of an agent appraisal over a computer-generated estimate – an opportunity you do not get with all of the home sellers going to those other websites.
Take it a step further and add dedicated landing pages for your agents so they can run their own campaigns to generate leads with the Property Estimate feature:
Google loves fresh, hyper-local content. It rewards businesses with improved rankings who are publishing this content on their website.
Combined with the adding of your service areas in Google My Business, regularly updated suburb profiles on your real estate website serve as a signal to Google that you are real estate experts in that area.
As the Google bot crawls your website, it’s picking up all of that great content and storing it in their servers. If done properly, suburb profiles can significantly increase your Google rankings in all of the suburbs you service when someone is searching for “real estate agents <insert_your_suburb_here>”
But not all suburb profiles are created equal.
Simply posting a short blurb about the area, a video and some photos isn’t going to cut it – especially in metropolitan areas of Australia where you have multiple other agencies servicing those suburbs. Your suburb profiles need to be more in-depth and provide multiple references to the area, your business, your listings and property data.
These pages also need to be regularly updated to ensure the data is up-to-date and relevant.
Place Newmarket’s suburb profiles feature a detailed suburb overview, description of their business, recent listings, current listings and property data that is pulled in, in real-time, from Domain’s API.
Given that the data is dynamic, as listings change and property data gets updated at Domain, these pages are showing Google that Place Newmarket are constantly publishing fresh content. And this translates into higher Google rankings for their website.
In just three weeks, their Mitchelton suburb profile (pictured above) rose to the 3rd position on page 1 of Google search results for “real estate agents Mitchelton” and the number 1 ranking for businesses in Mitchelton, even though their office is located in Newmarket – 5.2km away.
Previously, Place Newmarket’s website appeared on page 4 of Google for the same search phrase.
You might need some help from your web developers with some of the more technical setup of your suburb profiles – just initially; including your listings, title tags, meta titles, meta description and keywords. Also, if you’re looking to integrate with a third-party data provider as shown in the example above, your developer will need to have knowledge of how to integrate APIs with your website.
Off-market, pre-portal, silent listings, exclusives – whatever you want to call it – is, essentially, the idea that you can sell a property with no portal advertising whatsoever but instead use your database/CRM, social media ads and email to attract potential buyers.
It’s an effective strategy if done right, gaining much more traction among agents in Australia during COVID, that potentially saves the vendor thousands of dollars in marketing spend and allows the agent to put all of the attention on their listings via their website, rather than competing against every other agent and listing on the major portals.
The key to an efficient and effective off-market system, that attracts genuine enquiry and intrigue from potential vendors, is your website. Without an easy-to-use registration, browsing and alert system in place on your website for interested buyers, your off-market strategy will rely solely on your ability and time to describe your off-market listings to potential buyers.
By centralising your available off-market properties on your own website, behind a sign-up/sign-in form, buyers are able to browse your off-market listings 24/7. If your website is configured for it, you can also keep track of who’s visiting your off-market listings, for how long – giving you valuable data on who you’re most interested buyers (or even potential sellers!) are.
There are a few different methods being used to showcase off-market listings…
PRD Newcastle’s ‘pre-market’ portal is the more traditional method of showcasing off-market listings on a real estate website whereby the user must provide some basic information for access to off-market properties. Once signed up or signed in, the user can freely browse the off-market (‘pre-portal’) listings currently available, all while the user’s information is captured in the agency’s CRM.
Di Jones’ off-market portal is a slightly different approach that shows interested buyers how many potential sellers exist in the agency’s CRM who have shown interest in possibly selling off-market. After the user enters the suburb they’d like to buy in, Di Jones’ website connects to the agency’s CRM to scan all potential sellers with a property in that suburb and returns the number of sellers who have indicated they would sell if the price was right.
The user can then refine their search to their property preference.
The user is then provided with the number of potential sellers in the agency’s CRM who have a property matching their personal property preferences and a prompt to speak with a Di Jones agent about securing their dream home.
Harris Real Estate, based in Adelaide, has taken educating vendors on the benefits of off-market to another level. While many agencies tend to hide their processes for selling off-market, intentionally or not, Harris has an entire section of their website outlining the benefits of selling off-market, making it a major part of their service offering and providing a visible point of difference in the marketplace.
Off-market listing functionality on real estate websites and integration with CRM platforms is still lacking for most real estate websites. Harris’ off-market portal, however, offers full property search functionality to consumers and feed automation from their CRM – making it easy for single-data entry and management.
Off-market listings can be viewed among all other listings or filtered to show off-market properties only. The featured image of the property, suburb and pricing is shown by default but visitors are required to sign-in or sign-up to access the address of the property and all other information related to the listing including photos, videos, contract of sale, virtual tours etc – syncing new registrations with the agency’s CRM for lead capture and follow up.
Utilising an omnichannel marketing approach to promote its off-market listings portal, Harris is able to generate significant and consistent registrations to its off-market listings portal on a daily basis – increasing its buyer pool and building a more compelling case study for potential vendors on the benefits of selling off-market via their agency.
REA’s latest round of TV ads, suggesting consumers should never sell off-market, is an obvious swipe and slap in the face to the people who have supported their business for 15 years – the agents. For years, REA has suggested that there is only one way, their way, to sell real estate. It’s super smart marketing on REA’s part but pitting the consumer against their agent’s advice (the people on the front line of this industry) is crossing the line in my view.
But on the flip side, it’s a positive sign that our industry is getting smarter (and selfish) about how they use their own data and who they allow access to. REA are seeing how effective off-market sales can be for both the agent and vendor. Why else would they run these ads!?
4. Unique Property Experiences
Unlike on the major property portals where you are restricted to the layout and functionality of the listing pages, your website can showcase a range of unique experiences that users cannot get anywhere else.
Take Diakrit for example.
Diakrit brings your listings to life with professional magazine quality photos, interactive decorating and furnishing features allowing your potential buyers to digitally customise areas of a property to their taste, as well as offering highly immersive VR enabled 360° tours.
One of the things we really like about Diakrit’s products is that they can live on your own website to provide a truly unique experience for potential buyers to explore your listings.
Diakrit’s Kitchen Styler and Furnish products are not only a great reason for buyers to visit your website over your competitors but they keep people on your website longer.
The amount of time someone spends on your website is a big contributing factor to your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). In other words, the longer someone spends on your website, the better your website will rank on Google.
Real estate websites are no longer the static online brochures they once were. Sellers and buyers alike are craving more personalisation, more exclusivity and more privacy than ever before – something that only your website can deliver over all other platforms on the web. Great digital marketing starts and ends with a great website and it could be the difference between winning or losing your next listing.