#Guides | 15 min read

How to Build a Real Estate Website [7 Must-have Features]

Pavel Obod , Founder of Sloboda Studio

The real estate industry has always been an appealing one to start up a business.

Just a while ago, agents and brokers used to find customers offline. Now buyers and sellers are using real estate websites.

Just imagine: by 2018, 93% of US real estate buyers were using real estate websites.

And the number is rapidly growing. The revenue for 2019 in the real estate industry amounted to almost $235 billion.

Whether you’re running a business of renting out or selling real estate in 2020, you’ll need to go digital. We’ll now address ways of building a real estate website to get ahead of the 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 in the U.S. will come to nearly $543.7 billion by 2023.

In 2019, 51% of property sellers used real estate websites 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 real estate website has a lot of benefits. 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 real estate website creates an online presence of your business.

More Customers

Millennials are the main buying group of buying real estate online. As studies show, Millennials prefer to search for properties online rather than go to real estate 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. With a website that has full information about properties, the perfect property photos and sometimes even 360-degree view of the property. You can always communicate with the clients via online forms or emails.

Build a real estate website

Types of Real Estate Websites

The digitalization of selling and renting out real estate started with promotional websites. Now, the online real estate industry has emerged with more business models. So, the current online property market offers many more opportunities.

Types of Real Estate Websites

Promotion Website

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

This kind of real estate website almost hasn’t changed. The only thing that is changing is the use of UI and UX design. With UI and UX design, promotion websites became easier to use and navigate. And since the Google mobile-first changes were introduced in 2018, website design has become much more mobile-oriented. 

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

Promotion website - Coldwell Banker

Property Listing Website

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

Within the property listing website, buyers or renters can:

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

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

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.

This is a more evolved type of website for real estate. Here both suppliers and consumers can use a platform without limitations. Property owners can:

  • list their real estate on the website
  • determine their approximate home value by using an online 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, the Zillow marketplace is the lead in the United States. It received 36 million visits a month as of January 2019. Trulia is the second most famous real estate marketplace website. It has 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 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 website.

Years later, another website for real estate 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 property rentals is Airbnb. Similar to Zillow, Airbnb changed the way people rent accommodation. Even though Airbnb and its alternatives occupy a large segment of the rental market, the rental property market still has space 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 real estate 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. When building a real estate website for managing properties, try to include features such as:

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

Examples: Appfolio, Rentec Direct, TennantCloud, Yardi.

Property Management Website - Appfolio

Real Estate Investing Websites

Real estate remains one of the top investment options. It provides investors with a passive income and serves as a fairly reliable long-term investment.

No wonder the demand for online real estate investment platforms is growing.

With these types of websites, investors can:

  • participate in equity investment
  • find real estate 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 real estate website should have.

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 real estate website. This model is usually associated with a marketplace real estate website where there are sellers and buyers and the platform that connects both sides.

Investing Websites

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 real estate 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 Monetize a Real Estate Website

As mentioned earlier, there are 6 types of real estate websites. Each has its own monetization model or even several of them. For example, promotion websites and property management websites commonly use an advertising monetization strategy. Whereas, property listing websites tend to use both advertising and subscription models. Real estate marketplaces use freemium and commission fee models. Real estate investing websites monetize through transactions and a freemium model.

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

ways of monetizing a real estate website

Advertising

Advertising has been around for years. It is definitely the most popular revenue model for real estate websites. The easiest way of building a real estate website to be a space for advertising is to start with Google Adsense. Additionally, you can give access to other agencies to advertise their services. Your target audience to offer ad space should be real estate 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 real estate. With freemium, you grant free access to the basic functionality of your website. 

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

A subscription model is a lot like a freemium model. Nevertheless, there is one big distinction. With a subscription model, users 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 of making money on a real estate website. And there are reasons for this. Firstly, there are too many sides to charge. Secondly, it’s unclear how and when the transaction will happen. Also, it is unclear how much the commission fee should be.  Nonetheless, if you do decide to use a commission fee model, you should decide which payment provider to integrate on your website.

7 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 7 most well-known players in online real estate. Here are the features they all have in common.

7 Must-have Features of a Real Estate Website

Registration

If you are building a real estate website, start with the registration feature. Actually, registration is the most underrated feature on real estate websites. The reason for this is that real estate entrepreneurs don’t realize that it is a source of valuable information and data. 

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.

When you’re building a real estate website, make your registration easy and quick. Give your users the ability to register/sign in with Facebook/Google or a phone number. Don’t 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 of 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 for rent.

The relevant listings according to the search parameters appear. Here, users can filter and sort these listings.

Common filters:

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

Common sorting:

  • 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

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:

  • 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 are thinking about how to create a real estate website with marketplace type, then providing your suppliers with the ability to list a property is a must-have feature. Property posting shouldn’t be any more difficult than searching for a property.

In order to post a listing, a supplier first must choose whether the property is for sale or for rent. Second, the supplier enters an address, unit, city and zip code. Then they pin it on the map, set a price and add photos. Additionally, they add some facts about the home and description and contact information.

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 real estate 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 important features for tenants and sellers. As previously mentioned Zillow was the first website to implement this feature. Property value estimation is calculated using statistical models, machine learning and big data. The margin of error is 7% which is not a lot considering it used to be 14%.

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 10 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. 

Sloboda Studio - Real estate case

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 with such features as:

  • 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 for years. Every few years, a new type of real estate website is introduced. In order to build a real estate website that will be desired by many, you should:

  • determine your ideal monetization model
  • come up with the core functionality of your website.

After doing so, try to find and add a unique feature that has never been introduced by your competitors. This will give you an edge and a head start over your competitors.

Sloboda Studio has been creating online platforms and websites for businesses fo 10 years. All in all, we helped to bring over 150 projects to life. 

Real Estate is one of the main focus areas. We would be glad to help with your real estate website development. Just drop us a line for a free consultation.

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