Most people come to your website to find information about buying or selling a home. Just admit it, your photo and great website graphics won’t do much unless you have useful content and tools. Plain and simple, they visit your site to find information. The top priority of your web page should be to present important real estate information to your visitors. Your website needs to have tools described below so your visitors won’t leave your web page and look for more information somewhere else. These tools are commonly called as widgets. Widgets are simple HTML codes that you can insert in your web page to place customized functional tools on your website.
- Easy to use MLS search tool (for Buyers) to find MLS listings. You can frame your broker’s MLS search screens for an easy solution or you can do a full custom IDX implementation which looks much nicer and professional.
- Contact me tool (for Buyer/Sellers) placed on every page so they won’t need to search around. This should be more than a page that just shows your phone and email. You need to have an option for them to fill out a contact form (make email and/or phone a required field). If visitors do not have access to their email while browsing your site, this form will still let them contact you by filling out their own contact info.
- Mortgage monthly payment calculator (for Buyers). In order to figure out if they can afford a house people need to know the monthly payment amounts for a particular home. Make sure people can type the house price and property tax amount to see their monthly payments. You can find this and many other free tools on WidgetBox.com
- Personal Blog site (for Buyers/Sellers). This is where you post information about yourself and the local real estate market. Blogs are a great way to publish information. If you keep putting interesting content on your blogs about your target local area, people will keep coming back. Search engines also favor blog sites and they index them quite frequently.
- School information (for Buyers). A lot of the buyers will be searching for area schools before they decide to buy a house. Don’t let them go to other websites for this information. Make sure you have an online tool that they can specify their target location and see all the schools nearby along with the school reviews and data.
- Local News (for Buyers/Sellers) is another piece of information most people are interested in. You can place live news tools on your web page that will display current news about any subject. If you have quality news about your target area, people will find your site interesting and keep coming back.
- Things to Do in your target area (for Buyers/Sellers). Events, entertainment reviews and “Things To Do” is commonly searched subjects in any area. Showing your visitors all the things they can do in your local area will differentiate you from other real estate agents sites. Restaurant reviews also give them useful information about dining establishments in your area.
- How much is my home worth? (for Sellers) This is the number one question that all sellers ask to themselves. You need to have an online comparison tool to give them an idea of how much their home might be worth. This way they don’t need to browse away from your site to get this information. You have to indicate that this tool is just a ballpark estimate and that they need to contact you to get an accurate estimate. This can be done by a widget or an API tool from zillow.com. The API tools are programming codes to access data from Zillow.com in order to display information on your web page in a very customized fashion. You can see an example of an API implementation on my own “What is your home worth?” page. Just enter an address to see the outcome.
- Current Mortgage Rates tool (for Buyers/Sellers). This is a good one to have on your site so that users can keep track of the mortgage rates. Many buyers would be watching these rates to pick the perfect time to buy a house and you should not give them any reason to go to any other website. You can get one from mortgageloan.com/widgets/
- Mortgage Tax Savings calculator (for Buyers). This is a hard to find tool and not many realtor sites have it but luckily you can find a free one as well. The first thing that people learn about buying a house is that they will save money on their taxes but no one will tell them how much. This tool will let your customers see how much they will save on their taxes by purchasing a particular house.
These are the most important tools that any agent should have on their websites. Remember, you need people to keep coming back to your site. You have to have useful information on your website that people want to see. You also need the above tools so consumers have everything they might need located in one website. Your website should be the only place to go for any real estate inquiry.