#Guides #Real Estate | 16 min read | Updated: 7/14/2021

How to Build a Real Estate Website: 8 Core Features [2021 Guide]

Updated: 7/14/2021
, Founder of Sloboda Studio
#Guides #Real Estate
16 min read

In 2020, 69% of real estate companies had a website. With current pandemic, more real estate owners are moving online. Knowing how to build a real estate website becomes an influential factor on the market.

Needless to say, the real estate industry has always been an attractive area for business ideas’ implementation. 

Almost the entire real estate industry has moved online. Now the various properties search has become much faster and more convenient for customers.

In 2020 more than 97% of property buyers were using real estate websites to find their desired properties.

120+ million times people visit property sites and 36+ million unique visitors each month.

In this article, we’ll address how to build a real estate website to get ahead of the business competition.

Online Real Estate Market

The real estate market has been thriving for years. The metrics have only been growing.    

It is predicted that the revenue of real estate business in the U.S. will come to nearly $543.7 billion by 2023.

In 2020, 98% of property sellers used property sites while the majority of real estate buyers were looking for property online.

Why Create a Real Estate Website

In the age of Internet dominance, a real estate website is simply a must-have. Moreover, building a property site has a lot of benefits for business. Here are the main ones:

Convenience

Your customers can access the information about the property, photos, and your guidance at any time they want. Having a RE site creates an online presence of your business.

More Customers

Millennials are the main buying group of buying real property online. As studies show, Millennials prefer to search for properties online rather than go to property agencies. That is a big plus for you since once you build your real estate website you will be able to reach a whole new buying group.

Saves Time

No need for meeting and wasting time in traffic. RE sites need to have complete information about properties, the perfect property photos, and sometimes even a 360-degree view of the property. You can always communicate with the clients via online web forms or emails. It would be best if you stayed in touch with them.

Build a real estate website

Types of Real Estate Websites

The digitalization of selling and renting out property started with promotional sites. The web property industry has merged with more business models, and the current online business market offers many more opportunities. It makes a considerable boost for various business marketing strategies. You need to choose the best option for your web platform.

Types of Real Estate Websites

Promotion Website

When the era of digitalization started booming, many property agencies started building a real estate website where they would advertise their business company, post property offers, and arrange consultations. 

This kind of property site almost hasn’t changed. The only thing that is changing is the use of UI and UX design. With UI and UX design, promotion sites became easier to use and navigate. For better business results, your site design must be mobile-oriented.

Examples: RE/MAX, Keller Williams Realty, Inc., Coldwell Banker, The Corcoran Group.

Promotion website - Coldwell Banker

Property Listing Website

A property listing site is a platform where customers can find houses for sale or rent. Unlike a real estate marketplace, a property listing site usually doesn’t provide the ability to list an estate without an agent. Property listing sites were the first websites where various agents could list a property, not just property agents working with a single company. 

Within the property listing site, buyers or renters can:

  • search through listings to find a suitable property,
  • view info, request a tour, or contact a property owner.

Such property site listing uses a multiple listing service (MLS), a system used by brokers, agents, or marketing companies to tap into the available estate business deals on the market. This system can be integrated with the help of IDX, an agreement between selling and buying agents to showcase multiple listing service properties online and across multiple business platforms.

Examples: Zoopla, RightMove, Realtor.

Property Listing Website - Realtor

Real Estate Marketplaces

The real estate marketplace is a platform and a mediator between sellers/tenants and buyers/renters.

It is a more evolved site where both suppliers and consumers can use a web platform without limitations. Property owners can:

  • list their estate on the site,
  • determine their approximate home value by using an online web calculator and find the customers.

Customers, on the other hand, can:

  • search to rent or buy a property
  • view property photos, building plans, and property descriptions, as well as facts and information about the district.

Related: How To Create an Online Marketplace

Examples: Redfin, Trulia, Zillow, Airbnb.

Real Estate Marketplace - RedFin

The market of online marketplaces is booming now. It is expected that the total online marketplace revenue will account for $40.1 billion by 2022.

Speaking of selling and rental marketplaces, Zillow marketplace is the lead in the United States. It received 36 million visits a month in 2020. Trulia is the second most famous real estate marketplace website, with approximately 23 million monthly visits. Yahoo! Homes is the third one with about 20 million monthly visits.

Zillow’s success started when they decided to launch their famous Zestimate web calculator. Zestimate helped evaluate property value based on publicly available data. It made such a huge noise that, after five days, more than 2 million users visited the site.

Years later, another website called Trulia decided to launch a similar calculator. However, Trulia was sued and later acquired by Zillow. 

There’s another segment of the real estate marketplace industry: temporary property rentals. The leader in temporary rentals is Airbnb. Similar to Zillow, Airbnb changed the way people rent accommodation. But, like Airbnb and its business alternatives occupy a large segment of the rental market, the rental market still has a web area for newcomers.

Related: How to Build a Website Like Airbnb

Property Management Websites

A property management website is a website where property owners can:

  • manage their property and customers, such as renters or buyers
  • make automated clearing house payments
  • manage their accounting
  • plan tenant screening
  • provide logins for both tenants and owners.

Websites for property management can be focused on residential and commercial properties.

This kind of real estate website has many features. If you want to build your own property website for managing properties, try to include features like:

  • accounting,
  • reporting,
  • lease renewal workflow,
  • a system for monitoring rent payment,
  • property maintenance,
  • automatic tracking of insurance policy, and others.  

Examples: Appfolio, Rentec Direct, TennantCloud, Yardi.

Property Management Website - Appfolio

Real Estate Investing Websites

You need to know that real estate remains one of the best business investment options. It provides investors with passive income and serves as a relatively reliable long-term investment. This prospect makes the sphere alluring for many.

No wonder the demand for online web property investment platforms is growing.

With these types of websites, business investors can:

  • participate in equity investment
  • find property that is in the process of being built
  • finds properties at a reduced price due to several issues.

If you want to know how to build a real estate investing website, later in the article we give the core features every property website should have to boost your business.

Examples: InveStore, Aktivo, Zinsbaustein.

Real Estate Investing Website - Zinsbaustein

Real Estate Aggregators

A property aggregator is a website that collects data from different websites and displays it on one. Aggregators are one of the most convenient ways to find a property to buy or rent. Just like any other real estate website, property aggregators also have filters.

Examples: Nestoria, Home.co.uk. 

Real Estate Aggregator - Home.co.uk

Real estate websites can also be classified by the user’s intention:

Selling and Buying Websites

Selling and buying real estate is probably the most common type of property site. This model is usually associated with a marketplace property website where there are sellers and buyers and the platform that connects both sides.

Investing Websites

Business investors are trying to find the best deal there is. Why not give them this ability? Real estate websites that provide investors with the ability to find the most potentially lucrative opportunities for investing in properties could be well-received.

Managing Websites

Managing a property can be tricky since a property owner can have several properties. Usually, this type of website addresses two sides: landlords and tenants. The functionality and interfaces for each are different. 

Renting Websites

Our research shows there are many real estate websites that focus only on renting, such as Trulia, Lovely, Rentals.com, Rentdigs and others. These websites include two sides: future tenants and landlords. In order to connect both sides after the contract has been signed, a renting website can also offer the ability to manage properties, as Walk Score does. 

In addition, there are long- and short-term rentals. Usually, a property website offers both types of rentals. However, if you want to go niche, we suggest picking one.

Mixed Models of Real Estate Websites

Although a real estate website with a system for selling and buying is most common, a mixed website can also catch a lot of attention when deciding on how to make a real estate website. As a founder, you can include selling, buying and renting, or renting and managing. In any case, the features that you choose should make sense and fit well together. 

How to build a real estate website

How to Monetize a Real Estate Website for Your Business

As we mentioned earlier, there are 6 types of RE sites. Each has its monetization model or even several of them. 

For better revenue, you need to choose the most suitable morenization model for your site.

For example, promotion websites and property management websites commonly use an advertising monetization business strategy. Property listing websites use both advertising and subscription models.

Real estate marketplaces use freemium and commission fee models, and real estate investing sites monetize through transactions and a freemium model. If you want to create the proper monetization for your business, we suggest learning more about each revenue model. The best rule of how to build a real estate website with maximum profit – choose the right monetization.

Here are the most popular ways of monetizing a real estate website for your business:

ways of monetizing a real estate website

Advertising

Advertising has been an important marketing tip for years, and it is the most popular revenue model for RE websites.

The easiest way to start your advertising campaign is with Google Adsense. Additionally, you can give access to other agencies to advertise their services. Your target audience to offer ad space should be property agents, mortgage brokers, or banks.

How to charge:

  • By zip code
  • Cost-per-click
  • Cost-per-acquisition

Examples: Zillow, Trulia.

Freemium

Freemium is the second most popular monetization model in online web space. If you want to provide free access to the main features of your website, this model is for you.

If the limited number of features isn’t enough, customers pay a fixed price to get access to more valuable features, such as viewing listings that aren’t public on the website or viewing full property information. 

Talking from the point of view of suppliers, your website can:

  • highlight or boost a listing
  • give a supplier unlimited access to posting listings
  • evaluate property value.

Examples: Zillow. 

Subscription

Even though a subscription model is a lot like a freemium model, there is one significant distinction. 

Suppose you want your users to pay for the whole package, not for a separate service. As the future owner of a real estate website, you can customize each package and charge differently. The subscription should be either monthly or yearly.

Commission Fee

Charging a commission fee is probably the least popular way for your business to make money. There are some reasons for this: too many sides to trust, unclear how and when the transaction will happen. What’s more, it’s confusing how much the commission fee should be.

Nonetheless, if you decide to use a commission fee model, you need to determine what payment provider to integrate on your website.

8 Must-Have Features of a Real Estate Website

Any type of real estate website has its main functionality. Functionality is essential for maintaining both suppliers and customers.

We have studied the 8 most well-known players in online real estate. Here are the features they all have in common.

8 core features of real estate website

Registration

If you want to build a new real estate website, start with the registration feature. Registration is the most underrated feature on real estate websites. The entrepreneurs don’t realize that it’s a source of valuable information and data.

The improved registration feature is already one of the best business ideas for optimizing your site. 

When customers register, their email addresses are instantly saved in a website’s database. By having that kind of information in your CRM, you’ll be able to create a targeted ad and email campaign. Plus, you’ll have a better understanding of who your target audience is.

It will improve your marketing process and help your customers be better informed about sales and exciting proposals.

While you’re building a real estate site, make your registration easy and quick. It’s vital to give your users the ability to register/sign in with Facebook/Google or a phone number. These functions aren’t difficult to add, but they significantly increase the user experience. We advise you not to make users type everything manually.

How to build a real estate website: Zillow Registration

Search

Every search on a real estate website starts with entering an address where the customer would like to buy or rent a property. Then the search asks what type of listings a user would like to see: for sale or rent.

The relevant listings according to the search parameters appear. Here, users can filter and sort these listings. The main thing you need to check is the design of the search bar. It should be UX-friendly so that the customers don’t need to search for it for a long time.

Common filters like:

  • Price
  • Bedrooms and bathrooms
  • Home type
  • Square feet
  • Lot size
  • Year built
  • Basement
  • Keyword

Common sorting like:

  • Verified source
  • Price
  • Newest
  • Bedrooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Square feet
  • Lot size
  • Most photos
  • Mortgage

Note: It is also a good idea to enable users to save search settings and add listings to their favorites. 

How to build a real estate website: Zillow Search

SEO

Once you decide to build an MVP of a real estate website, it’s vital to think through the site architecture since it’ll influence the back-end and front-end and the SEO side of your RE website. To get the best search engine rankings for your business, SEO must be high.

Many business owners falsely believe that free website builders can justify their requests. But this is not at all the case. It’s essential to make sure that your future site is SEO-friendly by default.

Dream of building a real estate website

Listing System

Besides searching, filtering and sorting, viewing listings also plays an essential role in the user experience.

However, there aren’t a lot of choices on how exactly customers can view properties. Usually, such a view combines two things. Firstly, a map on one side of a page. Secondly, a list of properties on the other. But sometimes users have the ability to view a list of properties in a table or photo format.

So, beautiful grids of properties can actually encourage users to take further actions on your real estate website. 

How to build a real estate website: Redfin Listing system

Property Listing Page

A page with a property listing should contain as much information as needed. 

Generally, a listing’s page has to have:

  • Property images
  • Map with a pinned address
  • Facts and features
  • The person who listed this property
  • The ability to contact the property owner

Besides the above-mentioned features, it’s advisable to have additional features on a property listing page in order to be competitive in the online real estate market.

Additional features for the listings page like:

  • Floorplans
  • Building overview
  • Local info: schools, crime, commute, shops
  • Ratings and reviews about the district the property is in
  • Affordability
  • Price trends
  • New listings near the house 

How to build a real estate website: Trulia Property Listing Page

Property Posting

If you want to know how to create a real estate website with the ability to view multiple properties, then giving your vendors the ability to list real estate is a must-have feature. Searching for a property shouldn’t be any more difficult than finding your dream home. Your visitors don’t need to perform complex actions.

The vendor first chooses whether the property is for sale or rent to place the ad. Second, the vendor enters the address, unit of measurement, city, and zip code. Then they attach it to the map, set the price, add photos, add some facts about the house, a description, and finally – add contact information.

The people who place the ad should be able to freely access the information they add – for example, to edit or later clarify some important details.

Furthermore, you can give the ability to attach a URL of a virtual tour, as Zillow does, add a 3D Home to the property, and a video walkthrough.

How to build a real estate website: Zillow Property Posting

Property Visualization

According to a survey in 2018, 87% of home buyers said they found photos on property listing websites very useful when searching for their current home. Over 50% of home buyers found floor plans very useful in the same survey.

The easiest and most inexpensive way to visualize a property is to include its images. But technology has come a long way. Now we are able to do so much more.

More advanced ways to help users visualize a property:

  • 360° photography

It is used both for interior and street views. It is the simplest way to make a property seem real. 

  • VR/AR

It has been recently introduced to the online real estate market. However, it has already captured the audience’s attention. Zillow was the first company to introduce this feature on their property website, and it made a big difference for them. Virtual and augmented reality creates an actual experience for a customer. They allow you to view the property as if a customer was actually there.

Zillow Property Visualization

Property Value Estimation

Evaluation of the property price is one of the most critical features for tenants and sellers. As previously mentioned, Zillow was the first site to implement this feature.

Property value estimation is calculated using statistical models, machine learning, and big data. The margin of error is 7%, not a lot considering it used to be 14%. So, it makes the process more complex and precise.

There is also a very similar calculator that is designed just for buyers – a mortgage calculator. It helps buyers calculate whether they can afford this particular home or not.

How to build a real estate website: Zillow Property Value Estimation

Our Experience

Sloboda Studio has been digitalizing offline businesses for 11 years.

We helped a number of companies with their transformation starting from building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to creating a fully-featured product. 

Here’s a couple of online platforms we built.

Home Fit Out

Home Fit Out is a Canada-based digital platform that offers cutting-edge furniture solutions. It raised seed funding from one of the top US accelerators. 

Home Fit Out - Canada-based digital platform

With Home Fit Out users can order a pre-designed room with furniture and design it the way they want to. After making an order, the company delivers and sets furniture the way it was designed online.

Safhyre

Safhyre is a UAE online platform for recruiting. It connects employers with employees. Moreover, it provides employers with access to the database of job candidates.

Our team has built this website from scratch using such features like:

  • Matching algorithm for similar resumes
  • Email notifications
  • Payment System
  • Secure communication
  • Job vacancy publication
  • Listings

Conclusion

To sum up, the real estate market has only been expanding over the years. The revenue of real estate business in the U.S. will amount to approximately $553,3 billion by 2024. What’s more – a new type of real estate web software appears each year.

The reality is that whether you are running a rental or real estate business in 2021, you will need to go digital. If you want to know how to build a real estate website, you need to:

  • determine your ideal monetization model
  • come up with the core functionality of your website
  • have a user-friendly design. 

After that, try to find and add a unique feature that your competitors have never presented. It will give you an edge over the competition and help you carve your niche in the competitive real estate market.


Frequently Asked Questions

The custom website development cost of a MVP real estate site can start at around $30 000. Each project cost is individual, considering the features, design, web hosting, and other details.

To monetize your real estate website, you need to choose the strategy that's right for you. It can be a freemium model, a subscription, commission-free, or ad integrations.

Website builders like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, etc., are a good idea for simple solutions to start a website in a matter of minutes and with a limited budget. But if you want a unique custom website, you should start it from scratch.

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