The real estate industry is massive and it requires a great website. Whether the site is for a realtor or a large real estate agency, both can benefit from a streamlined site on WordPress.
But how do you even start building a real estate website? Which features do you need to have?
In this post I’ll cover the basics that every great real estate website must have, all focused by building on WordPress. Different websites all have different interfaces but the end goal is always the same: to sell & rent property. And a great design is a great first step in the right direction.
1. Start with a killer WordPress theme
Few real estate agents want to create their own design from scratch. It’s much easier and more efficient to work with custom themes.
You can find dozens online, but I have a few that I recommend for launching(or updating) a real estate website.
Clean, strong, and professional best describes the Houzez theme. It supports a number of different homepage styles with custom search features and property listings to boot.
For a small local agency you might try this homepage using the Google Maps feature at the top. This draws attention right away and encourages the user to engage. But other homepages focus on the properties, the photos, and even details about the real estate agent.
From luxury homes to nearby apartments, this theme offers something for everyone. And you get all these features(search, property listings) built right into the site.
Another feature-packed theme you might like is Realtyspace. This comes with a drag-and-drop page builder so you can customize the exact look of your homepage.
The customized search feature is probably the most impressive resource. It lets visitors sort properties by features, area, price, bathrooms and a few other options. This gives complete control to the user which is usually a good thing.
Property listing pages also include tons of detail with a large photo slideshow, bullet point feature lists, and space to attach PDFs for descriptions & floor plans. These properties can also have agent profiles attached so visitors know exactly who to contact.
Reales WP works best for agencies that run high volume properties for sale in larger areas. This theme leaves a lot of space for property photos when searching.
On the property page you’ll find construction details, plenty of photos, and a live interactive map with a pin on the exact location.
Reales is feature-rich, fully responsive, and the perfect choice for a larger realty company looking to stylize their online presence.
One more theme I really like is Home Villas which supports traditional WordPress and WooCommerce.
This comes packed with features like team management, online tour scheduling, a mortgage calculator tool and a “walkability score” to find valuable places to shop/visit near the property.
But Home Villas can be a very simple theme too. It can be used for basic property listings with a search feature without all the extra widgets.
Definitely a versatile theme and this works great for individual agents or larger companies.
These are just my personal recommendations for real estate themes but you can find a bunch more on ThemeForest.
As long as your theme provides an excellent user experience you can’t go wrong no matter what you choose.
2. Showcase your property listings
Every real estate website needs property listings. This is true for individual real estate agents and larger firms.
Some realty WP themes come with listing features built right in. For other themes you’ll need a property listing plugin, and thankfully there are plenty to choose from.
Real Estate Pro
Real Estate Pro is the best real estate toolkit in plugin form. It supports online payments from Stripe/PayPal which can be used for local renting/lodging.
But more specifically it lets you track who interacts with certain listings and which properties garner the most attention over time. Users can bookmark listings for later and sort by dozens of categories.
This may be too much for a simple real estate agent website, but it will certainly work well on a larger agency site.
For a cleaner Ajax-powered interface take a look at Uptown. This comes with a full backend admin panel with multiple settings views for listing types and user functionality.
Each listing appears in a grid with search options in the sidebar. Visitors can limit by specific options and view each property inline on the same page using an Ajax modal window.
Check out the demo page to learn more and see how this plugin works on a real website.
With the Realcon plugin it’s easy to add property listings onto any page no matter what theme you’re using. This plugin has a ton of features with 3 listing styles(list, grid, and maps) along with a Google Maps API key for adding maps onto your site.
You can edit listings right in WordPress so visitors see when a property goes up for sale, and when properties eventually sell. You can also add information for different agents and include nearby amenities to each property.
This is one of the richest property listing plugins out there. It supports any theme with a clean responsive design, an easy-to-use admin panel, and tons of optional features to take your real estate listings to the next level.
3. Add an interactive map
Since real estate is all about location it’s useful to include embedded maps onto your site. Even better if you can add interactive maps so users can search around nearby locations.
You can find tons of WP plugins for adding maps onto your site. These are usually free and pretty simple. But if you’re looking for something with more features check out these two plugins.
The Progress Map plugin can fill the void if your theme doesn’t support default map placements.
With this plugin you can select where to drop pins and embed these into any page. You can highlight the location of each property in your site, along with nearby points of interest like grocery stores or public services(library, fire station etc).
This can also help prospective buyers learn more about the neighborhood and even plan their route to visit if they setup an open house. But only use this plugin if you need map functionality because it can be overwhelming if you have a dozen other plugins running too.
For a bit more functionality try the Map Search plugin built with Ajax auto-updating technology.
This lets the user search by keywords or location to find nearby properties for sale. Each search loads dynamically so the page never needs to refresh. And you can update property listings in WordPress for full control.
You may like this if you want a visual search component on your website. It’s certainly not required but it can definitely improve the user experience.
4. Make the sale: contact/booking forms
Every single website needs a contact page and realty sites are no different. You might have prospective buyers looking for more information about a property or someone who wants to schedule a tour.
The best WordPress contact form plugin is Contact Form 7. It’s free, easy to setup, and it works like a charm. Plus it’ll blend into any theme you choose.
Any typical real estate website should do well using the CF7 plugin. But if you need something a little more powerful consider the VR Booking plugin made specifically for scheduling online tours/rentals.
This does cost a bit and it comes with a ton of features. I recommend it for larger real estate agencies that do a lot of volume and have dozens of scheduled tours per month.
Using this plugin you can even support online bookings during the weekends when nobody’s at the office. The user picks available dates from a calendar and chooses the best time for a tour. Then you get an email update whenever someone schedules a tour. Simple!
But for a typical realty website start small and add features over time. If you can get by with a simple contact form then CF7 is your go-to plugin.
5. Add beautiful photos that sell
Photography is huge when selling real estate. Photos are often the defining factor of what draws people into the site. This can include property listings on the site, but also photo headers and property photos used throughout your site as promotional tools.
When grabbing interior photos you want every room to look bright, spacious, and natural.
Study the photos on Houzz to see what they look like. You’ll find every type of room with thousands of photos to sift through.
Snapping your own photos can be tough but necessary if you can’t hire a photographer. Thankfully you can nail down the basics of photography with just a few months of practice.
Here are some intro guides to get you started:
- How to Photograph Real Estate: Lessons Learned
- Real Estate Photography – a Guide to Getting Started
- Photo 101: Five Tips for Shooting Interiors
Launching your site can be easy and if you build it on WordPress you’ll have the peace of mind knowing it’s secure.
I hope this post offers enough resources to help you get moving on your real estate site.
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