How to Make a Real Estate Website

Are you a real estate agent looking to find an edge in marketing? Well, why not make a website dedicated to promoting yourself and the properties you’ve listed? You may think, “I don’t know the first thing about building a website.” Lucky for you, this step-by-step guide is geared towards beginners and requires you to have zero experience in web development. We are going to go through the entire process of constructing a real estate website using the WordPress platform.

WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System). Their users span from your average blogger all the way to major websites such as Yelp.com. The beauty of the platform is that you don’t need to be a computer expert to utilize the tool. Prior to WordPress, building a website required a lot of code writing and some of the more technical aspects of web development. Now, even someone with the most basic computer knowledge can create their own functional website.

Where Do I Start?

Purchasing a Domain

First things first, you are going to need to purchase a domain. The Domain Name is the address of the website, for example; “Google.com”. One of the most popular websites to purchase a domain name is GoDaddy.com. Just visit the website and input a domain name that you are interested in purchasing into the search bar on the homepage. (You must have an account with GoDaddy to complete the purchase, click here if you need to sign up.)

You may want a domain that contains your company name or maybe one that incorporates your name or your team’s name. As far as the extension goes, you are going to want to keep in mind that Google considers .com, .org, and .net to be equal in terms of ranking (so don’t get too hung up on the .com). Browse the various options until you find a domain that suits you as well as your wallet.

Selecting a Hosting Plan

Once you have your domain, it’s time to get hosting. On the homepage of GoDaddy.com, you will see a tab that is labeled ‘Hosting‘. Click that tab to expose the different options.

You can either choose “Web Hosting” or “WordPress Hosting”. They are both fine options with the latter catering more to the WordPress based website (I would have to admit the WordPress Hosting tends to have a smoother setup). Once you have clicked your option, you will be presented with 3 hosting plans that vary in price and features. If you would like to save money, the “Economy” plan should do the trick to get your site up and running. If you feel you would like the extra features, by all means, select that plan.

Once you have selected the plan that best suits your needs, you will be directed to the checkout page where you will provide payment information and determine how many months you would like to purchase.

Linking Your Domain Name to Your Hosting Plan

Now that we have a domain name and hosting, it’s time to link the two together and install WordPress.

Click the user tab that reads your name to view the “Quick Links” options, then select ‘Manage Hosting‘. From there, just follow the steps to connect your domain to your hosting plan and install WordPress. (You may also view your all your purchases under ‘My Products‘.)

Customizing My Website

Selecting a Theme

The most important thing you are going to need to decide upon is the choosing of a theme. A theme defines the overall appearance of your website. There are 1000’s of free themes on WordPress, or you can pay money if you would like a premium theme. (click here to view the top selling premium real estate themes on the popular website “themeforest.net“)

Knowing that most people are on a budget, I am going start with a free WordPress theme that can be used for the basic marketing needs of a real estate website and then later I’m going to upgrade that same theme to the premium version to show you all the possibilities.

Go to your WordPress dashboard. Hover over “Appearance” and select ‘Themes‘ located on the left side menu.

You will arrive at a page that will display all the themes pre-installed on your site. Just above, you will see a button that reads ‘Add New‘, click that button to advance to the next page.

You can search through the entire catalog of themes that WordPress has to offer on this very page. Input the keywords “real estate” into the search bar to the right. Once your search results have appeared, hover over the first option “Real Estate Lite” and click ‘Install‘. After installation, you are going to want to click ‘Activate‘ to apply the theme to your website. WordPress will also give you the option of upgrading the theme for a fee to enable more features, but for now we are going to go the cheaper route.

Site Identity

Now that we have installed and activated our theme, it’s time that we made some customizations to fit your needs. Just below “Themes” under the “Appearance” section, you will see the ‘Customize‘ option. Once you select that option, you will see a menu displaying several different areas that can become customized. Click the first option, ‘Site Identity‘.

The four sections of “Site Identity” include:

  • Logo – The Logo is an image that represents your website/business. Sometimes your logo can include the Site Title and Tagline. If this is the case, you can simply uncheck the box ‘Display Site Title and Tag
  • Site Title – Basically the name of your site/company. For example, say you have the web address “www.BaysideRealty.com”, you would just put Bayside Realty as the Site Title.
  • Tagline – The Tagline is essentially your “motto” that goes below your Site Title.
  • Site Icon – Is a small image that must be perfectly square and a minimum of 512 × 512 pixels. It can be seen displayed on mobile apps, browser tabs, and bookmark bars. It makes your site look more official.

For my example, I decided to uncheck the box that enables the Site Title and Tagline to display and uploaded a logo that included both within the image. If you look at the image below, you will see my logo incorporates the top 3 Site Identity sections.

Colors

Below Site Identity, you have the option of adjusting the color scheme of your theme. The four areas that can be adjusted are as follows;

  • Background Color
  • Main Accent Color
  • Footer Background Color
  • Footer Text Color

The only color I am going to adjust is the “Main Accent Color”. The default happens to be orange, which does not really blend well with my logo that contains blue (if you look to the right of the image below, you will see what elements are effected by the Main Accent Color). I am content with all the other areas, so I will not be adjusting their colors. Experiment with the different color options until you find a combination that pleases your eye.

Header Image

Next, you have the option of replacing your Header Image. A header image is typically a large photo displayed below the Logo, Site Title, and Tagline. You could add various photos of you and your team or pictures of real estate properties. It is up to you to decide what photos you think would be aesthetically pleasing to potential clients. Usually when you install a new theme, it will come with a default header. You can add multiple headers and randomize them so that every time you refresh the page, a random header image will appear. Upload your own header by clicking the button ‘Add New Image‘. If you would not like a header displayed, click ‘Hide Image‘.

Background Image

I personally wouldn’t upload a background image. It tends to make the website feel more cluttered and busy than it has to be. Background images are considered “tacky” in the tech world.

That about wraps it up for the initial customization.

Adding Posts

Posts are essential to the blog portion of your website. A blog is the section of your website that is comprised of entries called Posts. These Posts will contain information about the various topics that you have decided to write about. They are automatically arranged in reverse chronological order and dated, meaning the last Post you created will typically be at the top of your blog page, while older posts will be further towards the bottom. They are more likely to be social and commented on because they are usually someone’s thoughts or opinion on a subject. It is completely up to you if you would like to contain a blog on your website or not.

So how could blogging help my real estate website? First off, you are showing potential clients that you have expertise on various real estate subjects. But maybe more importantly, the more quality content that you write for your site, the higher you will rank on the major search engines like Google.

Go to your WordPress Admin page and click ‘Posts‘ on the left side menu. You will arrive at page that lists your previously created posts. Even though you haven’t created any, the theme that you downloaded provides you with an example post. If you hover over it, you will notice the following options;

  • Edit – Enables you to fully modify the post to your specifications.
  • Quick Edit – Make basic changes to a post.
  • Bin – Send an unwanted post to the trash.
  • View – Allows you to see the post as it would appear on your website.
  • Page Builder – Eases the process of constructing a post.

Click ‘Add New‘ to create a new post.

After you click ‘Add New‘, you will be presented with page that contains a text editor (similar to Microsoft Word). Insert the title of your post above and below is where you are going to add your content. Add images and videos by clicking the ‘Add Media‘ button. To the right, you can see four different sections;

  • Publish – When you click ‘Publish‘, it saves the page you are working on and makes it available on your website. If you are not ready to publish, you can simply click ‘Save Draft‘ instead.
  • Format – Experiment with the different formats until you find one that appeals to you. You can see what it will look like on the website by clicking ‘Preview‘ located under “Publish”.
  • Categories – This is how you can organize your posts. You can create different Categories to file your posts under.
  • Tags – Are just more specific subcategories. For example, if I had the category “Apartments”, I could make the tag “Studio” to make it more specific.

If we scroll down we will see 2 more sections;

  • Append a Nina Form – This is a popular plugin that frequently comes pre-installed on your WordPress. It allows you to create forms with ease by using a simple drag and drop process.
  • Featured Image – This is an image that represents the overall theme of the post and definitely enhances the presentation.

Adding Categories

Before we continue to the next step, I would like to point out the more advanced way to add Categories. Below “Posts” on the left side menu, you are going to want to select ‘Categories‘. You will then be asked to fill in the following fields;

  • Name – Enter the name of the Category you would like to create. Some examples of potential Categories could be “Buying”, “Selling”, “Mortgage”, etc. Basically just broad topics that you can file your posts under.
  • Slug – This is the URL-friendly version of the name. (If you leave it blank, WordPress will automatically generate one.)
  • Parent Category – Would you like to assign the Category that you are creating to a Parent Category? It basically makes it a sub-topic to a broader theme. (I wouldn’t worry about this too much and would just stick to creating basic Categories.)
  • Description – Add a description that informs visitors what the Category is all about.

Once you have input all the information, click ‘Add New Category‘ to complete the process. You have now successfully added a new Category.

Adding Pages

What is the difference between a Post and a Page you may ask? Pages tend to be more concrete, for example, an “About Us” page. It is just a straightforward page providing certain information. They are not time stamped and as I mentioned in the “Adding Posts” portion of this guide, Posts can be organized into categories whereas pages are organized into a hierarchical system of parent and child pages(otherwise known as sub-pages). Consider them more of the foundation of your website.

Adding Pages is pretty much identical to adding posts with just a couple of variations. Go to the ‘Pages‘ section of WordPress (as seen in the screenshot below). You can now scroll through pages that were installed when activating your theme.

If you notice in the image below, the pages above correspond with the menu options on the homepage.

These pre-installed pages are a good start to an organized website.

  • Home – This is your most important page, the “Front Page”.
  • About Us – This page allows you to introduce yourself and/or your team to the public. Provide a brief description of you and your company as well as a mission statement. You can provide quotes of recommendation and list any accolades that demonstrate your experience.
  • Services – Inform the public what services you have to offer. Do you specialize in a certain aspect of real estate?
  • Blog – This is a good way to provide your clients with new information and news about your industry. Your recent posts will be displayed on the homepage and visitors can click ‘Blog‘ to see all your posts.
  • Contact Us – This is pretty self-explanatory, just provide the contact information for yourself, any other employees, as well as an office. This should contain phone numbers, emails, and addresses. It also comes equipped with a contact form that would be linked to your email.
  • FAQ – “Frequently Asked Questions”. Have questions that customers frequently ask? List those questions with the answers on this page.
  • Portfolio – Share with your customers any projects that you have been involved with in the past.
  • Gallery – You could possibly insert photos of you and your team, properties you have sold, your business, etc.

You must go through the pages and provide your own information. To edit one of these pages, simply hover over the desired page and you will be given the same options that you had for your posts. You may also delete any pages that you feel are not necessary or redundant.

To create a new page, click ‘Add New‘ towards the top. Once again, very similar to the posts format, the only new section being “Page Attributes”.

  • Page Attributes – Assign the page you are working on to a “Parent Page”. A parent page, for example, would be if I added a page called “Our Team” to the “About Us” page. “About Us” would be higher up in the hierarchy, making “Our Team” a sub page also known as a “Child Page”. You may also select another template if you wish. I suggest sticking with the default but test out the others to see if there is another style you prefer. The last portion of Page Attributes is “Order”. This is simply just picking the order in which you would like the pages to be displayed.

Customizing Menus

Would you like to adjust the main menu on the homepage? We’re going to show you how it’s done. Go to the ‘Menus‘ section of WordPress below “Appearance”. The first thing you are going to want to do is select ‘Primary Menu‘ up top. Below, to the left, you will see the list of pages you have created on your site. If you created a new page that you would like to add to the menu, check the box of that page and click ‘Add to Menu‘. The page will be added to the menu where you can adjust the order. If you drag the page under another and pull to the right, it will become a sub-page. If you would like it to be it’s own tab, you would just set it in line with the others (refer to the screenshot below). Once you have everything in place, click ‘Save Menu‘ to seal the deal. You can also add Posts, Custom Links, and Categories to the menu if you wish. Click ‘create a new menu‘ if you would like to construct a new menu.

You can view what the subpage will look like in the image below.

Adding Widgets

When it comes to widgets, it is really up to the user on how he or she would like to customize. What I am going to do is go over some possible options to give the basic functions a website should contain. Now you may be thinking, “What is a widget? It sounds kinda funny.” Well widgets are used to help simplify the design of your website. You can add widgets to certain “widget ready areas” of your website to perform a specific function. If you look at the screenshot below, you will notice a section of “Available Widgets”(to the left) and a section of “Widgetized Areas”(to the right). All you have to do is drag one of the available widgets and drop it into the desired widgetized area.

In an example, I am going to drag & drop the “Contact Details”, “Recent Posts”, and “Social Profiles” widgets into Footer 1,2, and 3. When you drag the widget into the widgetized area, you will be given more options to customize further. For instance, look at the image below, “Contact Details” allows you to input your contact information and select whether or not you would like to display labels and a map of address. Same goes for Recent Posts and Social Profiles in terms of more options. You can choose the number of posts you would like shown and which social media outlets will be displayed. After inputting the information and making your selections, click ‘Save‘ for each widget.

When successfully executed, your footer should look something like the screenshot below. Your company’s contact info, recent posts, and social profiles will all be displayed. And feel free to add more widgets if you feel the need. It is really up to you to experiment with the different options. Maybe you would like to have a widget displayed in the sidebar area, it all depends on what YOU think is pleasing to the eye and what YOU feel maximizes functionality.

Upgrading to PRO

That about wraps up the capabilities of the “Lite” version of this theme. The fact that this theme is free does limit it’s features. If you would like a more advanced real estate website that promotes your properties, you are going to want to upgrade to PRO. To upgrade to Pro, you are going to have to go to the Theme section of WordPress and click ‘Customize‘ on your theme. Click the red button that reads ‘Go Pro‘.

You must then purchase the Pro version. Click the button that reads ‘$39.00 – Buy‘. (This is a decent price considering the other prices I have seen for similar real estate themes.)

Once at the checkout, choose one of the two payment options – credit/debit card or Paypal. Once you make your selection, provide the payment information required. After filling in all required fields, click ‘Purchase‘.

After purchasing the theme, you will receive an email confirming the purchase. The email will provide a link that you must click to download the plugin that will give you the extra features the PRO version offers.

Once the plugin is downloaded, you must go to the “Plugins” section of WordPress. Refer to the image below to navigate your way there. Once there, click the ‘Add New‘ button to proceed.

You will then arrive at the “Add Plugins” page where you must click ‘Upload Plugin‘. You will then be prompted to select the file from your computer’s downloads.

Once your plugin has been successfully installed, click ‘Activate Plugin‘ to make it official.

If you look at the screenshot below, you will notice that there are three new menu items that have appeared on our WordPress admin page.

  • Properties
  • Agents
  • Testimonials

These three sections will definitely help take your website to a new level.

Now after installing the plugin, you are going to be notified that there are some additional plugins that should be downloaded. This message will appear on your WordPress Dashboard. Click ‘Begin installing plugins‘.

 Properties

This section of the theme is the most important when it comes to marketing your properties. Navigate to the ‘Properties‘ section of WordPress. You are going to want to click ‘Add New‘. As you can see, adding a property is a lot similar to adding a Page or a Post (technically it is a Post but the plugin customizes it to be geared towards properties). Start out by writing the property name in the space provided, then writing a summary below describing the property. The next part requires dealing heavily with Categories.

If you notice that to the right, things look a little different than the options you’re given when writing a regular Post or Page.

  • Location – Choose the location in which the property resides.
  • Type – What type of property is it i.e. house, apartment, condo, etc.
  • Amenities – The extra features the property has to offer.
  • Featured Image – Upload a photo of the property.

It may be better to add new categories by clicking either ‘Location‘, ‘Type‘, or ‘Amenities‘ under the the “Properties” tab on the left side menu. If you look to the screenshot below, you will notice that it is identical to adding Categories for Posts.

Below the description, you may notice another section ‘Property Features‘. This is where you will list the specific features the property includes. Here are the following fields that should be filled in;

  • Property ID – Typically an MLS(Multiple Listing Services) Identification Number.
  • Price – How much is the property is on the market for.
  • Contract – Whether the property is for rent, sale, or sold.
  • Date Built – Enter the month, day, and year the property was built.
  • Featured – Check the “Featured Property” box if you would like this property to be highlighted on your website.
  • Rooms – Simply enter the number of rooms the property contains.
  • Bed room – Enter the number of bedrooms the property contains.
  • Baths – How many bathrooms does the property have.
  • Garage – Enter the number of garage bays on the premises.

  • Lot Area – How big, in meters, is the property.
  • Suffix – If you would like to add a suffix to the property that would indicate if it were a rental, you could insert pm or pa.
  • Sold – Check the box if the property has been sold to notify your visitors.
  • Property Video – Do you have a video tour of  the property you want to advertise? Upload it to youtube or vimeo, then copy the URL and paste it into the provided space.
  • Property Gallery – Upload more pictures of the property to entice potential buyers.
  • Property Address – Insert the full address of the property including the city and state.
  • Zip/Postcode – Input the local zip/postcode that applies to the property.
  • Location – You can input the exact location so that it will be pinpointed on Google Maps.
  • Assign Agent – Select which agent is in charge of the property.

You do not have to include any field you don’t deem necessary, just skip it and move on to the next.

Now that you have provided all the necessary information, click ‘Publish‘ and view the homepage. Once you have added at least three properties, it should look like like the image below on your homepage.

Visitors of your website can also browse through your catalog of homes by utilizing the “Search” tool. They have the option to select a location, property type, and/or a contract type. Once all selections have been made, they would click ‘Search‘ and would receive results based on those preferences.

Would you like to replace your header image with a “Property Slider”? The property slider will continuously display your featured properties on the homepage below the primary menu. If you are interested in this, navigate your way to the ‘Customize‘ section under “Appearance”. We are first going to need to remove your header image, so go to the header section and click ‘Hide Image‘.

Now go back and click on ‘General‘. You will then see the bottom option ‘Property Slider‘.

When you click that, you will be given the option to ‘Enable‘ the “Toggle Slider”. Once enabled, you will see your various featured properties displayed on the homepage. You can also choose the ‘Number of Slides‘ below. If you like this over the header image, click ‘Publish‘ to finalize the changes.

Other than the Property Slider, there is another section of the homepage that will display properties. On the main menu for customizing, go to ‘Front Page Sections’ > ‘Property Listings‘. Now if you scroll down the homepage, you will find the section that corresponds to customizing property listings.

  • Show This Section – You have the option of whether or not you want this section displayed on your website. I suggest you leave it enabled considering it is vital to promote your properties as much as possible.
  • Section Title – You have the option of renaming the title of this section. (Properties is typically the standard.)
  • Number of Posts – Enter the number of Posts you would like shown under this section
  • Show Featured Properties Only – Would you prefer to only display featured properties under this section? If so, enable this function.

 

Adding Agents

This theme also comes equipped with an “Agents” section. Here is where you can promote yourself and other real estate agents that you work with. Simply click the ‘Agents‘ tab on the left side menu of your WordPress Admin page and select ‘Add New‘. You will arrive at page that allows you to enter the agent’s name, a biography/description, and an option to upload a photo. View the image below for a closer look.

If you scroll down further, you will notice that there are blank spaces to provide the following contact information;

  • Title – Whether it be “Owner”, “Landlord”, “Agent”, etc
  • Telephone – Typically your office telephone number or home landline.
  • Mobile – The cellphone number of the agent.
  • Email – The email address that you would like advertised on the site.
  • Address – The address of your business location.

Once you have completed the form, click ‘Publish‘. You can now link the agent to listed properties.

Adding Testimonials

The last added section to WordsPress from the Real Estate PRO theme is “Testimonials”. Testimonials are a good way to show potential customers that you have met the needs of past clients, a reference so to speak. You will first need to inquire with a former client if they would be willing to be quoted and posted on your website. Once you get permission, navigate to the “Testimonials” section of WordPress and click ‘Add New‘. Enter the name of the person giving the testimonial, their quote, and upload an image of them under “Set Featured Image”. Once completed, click ‘Publish‘ to seal the deal.

Now if you go to ‘Customize‘ > ‘Front Page Sections‘ > ‘Testimonials‘, you will be given the option of showing or not showing this section. If you do leave enabled, you will notice that the default location of the Testimonial section is towards the bottom footer (as seen in the image below).

Customizing Different Sections of Your Homepage

The Real Estate PRO theme provides you with four default sections on your homepage (other than the ones previously discussed). These front page sections being;

  • Services
  • About
  • Blog

You have the option to modify these sections to you liking or even remove them completely if you wish. Take look to see how below.

Services Section

The first section below the “Search Properties” tool is the Services Section. This is where you can inform the visitors what kind of services you provide, for example, do you provide commercial, retail, or residential services? Do you specialize in buying or selling? Tell the people what aspects of real estate you specialize in. You can find this section by going to ‘Appearance‘>’Customize‘>’Front Page Sections‘>’Services Section‘. You will then see the following sections;

  • Show This Section – You have the option of enabling or disabling the entire section. If you do not want the section displayed, simply switch to ‘Disable‘ and it will no longer be visible.
  • Section Title – This is where you will input the title of the section. The default happens to be “What We Do” but you may name it whatever you wish.
  • Section Sub Heading – This would just be smaller text below the main heading, it is completely optional.
  • Select First Column Content – You may select three pages that you would like displayed under this section. I created the pages Residential, Commercial, and Retail, which I selected as my “First Column Content”. You may also notice the featured images that I added when I created the pages is now also displayed with a brief description and a ‘Read More‘ link.

About Section

Next, we are going to go over the About Section. It is pretty much the same deal as the last section, but I do want to go over one thing. When selecting the ‘First Column Content‘, it may seem obvious to choose the “About Us” page that came pre-installed with the theme. When you select that page, it will display too much content and distort the homepage look. You have 2 options, you can clear everything off the About Us page that already exists and just upload a featured image and description of your company or if you already customized that page using the page builder, you can simply create a new About Us page to add to the About Section. It actually doesn’t even need to be labeled “About Us”, you could even make this a mission statement section, it is completely up to you. If you look at the screenshot below, all that is displayed is the featured image I uploaded and the brief description that I wrote. Just a sweet and simple look.

Blog Section

The blog section is where your latest post will be displayed on the homepage. Once again, you have the option of showing the section or not, choosing a title (which the default happens to be “Latest News”), and inputting a sub heading. The only piece of advice I would give is that you should limit the ‘Number of Posts‘ displayed. As you can see in the screenshot, I have mine limited to three to avoid cluttering my homepage, if the user would like to see more, they can simply just click on the ‘Blog‘ tab on the primary menu.

Contacts Section

There are multiple areas where you can display your contact information, one of them being right at the top of your website. To find this section, go to ‘Appearance‘>’Customize‘>’General‘>’Contacts‘. You must then ‘Enable‘ the “Toggle Top Bar” and provide the following;

  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • G+
  • Youtube

If you look to the screenshot below, the information you input will correspond with the contact information displayed at the top of the homepage.

 

 

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