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9 Standard Components Every Agent's Website Needs (And 11 Ways to Make Them Even Better)

9 Standard Components Every Agent's Website Needs (And 11 Ways to Make Them Even Better)

12 min read
9 Standard Components Every Agent's Website Needs (And 11 Ways to Make Them Even Better)

In any profession, a slick-looking website is a sign that you take your job seriously—but it’s even more critical for real estate agents, whose clients often either find their agent online or do a bit of stealthy clicking before reaching out to connect. And it’s also a truism that for many agents, one website might as well be the same as another: They all contain the same components, arranged in slightly different ways.

Yes, it’s true that buyers and sellers will expect certain things from your website, and you should certainly be providing them with the basics. But it’s also true that you can exceed their expectations by offering something extra that nobody else in your market is delivering. We’ve rounded up 9 standard real estate website components that you’re obligated to provide, and given you 11 ways to blow past those expectations and into the realm of client delight.

1. IDX search

Buyers visiting a real estate website will want to search local homes for sale, and thanks to the beauty of IDX, you can (and should!) give them the option to find those homes without leaving your pages.

Level up: ‘Coming soon’ page

In a real estate market with low inventory and lots of interested buyers (which describes almost every market in 2021), buyers are just as intensely interested in what’s about to hit the MLS as they are in homes that have already been listed; if they can start their research early, they might even be able to decide whether or not they want to walk through the home before it’s listed on the market. 

You’ll want to make sure your “coming soon” page is compliant with your MLS and brokerage guidelines, of course—giving buyers a glimpse into the homes that haven’t quite hit the market yet (but are about to) will be well worth the attention to regulatory detail!

Level up: Street-level tours

Many buyers who start their home search online know enough to be wary of listing photos, but there hasn’t been a better way to take a look around the outside of the house and the neighborhood where it sits. 

Enter street-level tours (Google Street View, which allow you to embed walking tours around the house into your website, giving buyers another way to stroll down the road and see just how far away that park or convenience store really is.

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2. Home valuations for sellers

“How much would my house be worth today?” might be the question that real estate agents get asked the most, along with “how’s the market?” That’s why automated home valuations are useful to include on your website: Sellers can get an instant answer to their question, with an offer to explain more about the number and how they might maximize it.

Level up: Local pricing explainers for sellers

It’s all well and good to tell a seller how much their home is worth, but even more valuable is to offer some explanation or insight as to why. Perhaps the demographics in one neighborhood mean that buyers trend toward smaller bedroom and bathroom counts instead of larger ones—but your homeowner isn’t necessarily going to know that information intuitively.

Details about what a typical “ideal” home in the neighborhood looks like can help potential sellers understand whether and how their home might deviate from that ideal picture, and that information also gives them the power to decide how much (if any) money they might want to sink into aligning their property with the norms before listing it for sale.

3. Mortgage calculator for buyers

Buying a house is financially complicated, and the burning question that buyers most often have surrounds the monthly mortgage payment. If they put down $X today, what will that mean for their payment in a few months? What kind of additional burden will taxes and insurance add? What if they need to pay for mortgage insurance? 

Calculators that tackle this complicated math can give buyers a baseline understanding around whether or not they could actually afford a house in that particular price range.

Level up: Down payment and closing cost assistance details

There are national down payment assistance programs, but the majority of down payment  and closing cost assistance offerings are available at a state or local level—and many buyers have no idea they exist, let alone how to get started with one, or which lenders will work with down payment assistance.

As home prices continue to increase, and many buyers feel despair at the idea that they’ll have to save up a full 20% of a home’s purchase price, education around typical down payment amounts as well as down payment assistance can be a godsend. This is also an area where most agents don’t bother to learn the ins and outs; if you do, your buyers will tell absolutely everybody exactly how much money you were able to save them on the down payment or closing costs. You can’t buy that kind of advertising!

4. Mortgage rates plug-ins

Your website visitors might have heard that mortgage rates have been hovering near historic lows throughout 2021, but what’s the rate today—and what might they qualify for with their current credit score and debt-to-income ratio? A mortgage rate plug-in can help them benchmark where rates are so they can start to answer these questions.

Level up: Neighborhood demographics

These don’t change nearly as often as mortgage rates, but buyers find them endlessly fascinating for similar reasons. How many people in the neighborhood are owner-occupants, and how many homes are rentals? How many of those homes are short-term or vacation rentals instead of long-term rentals? How many homeowners have an associate’s degree, and how many have a master’s degree or higher? What’s the median income? How many are families with kids?

5. Neighborhood guides

Many real estate agents provide some kind of guide or orientation around different neighborhoods, from the retail shopping available to community features such as parks or rec centers. Buyers who are moving from out-of-state, or even local buyers who simply aren’t very familiar with where you work, can get a quick sense of what to expect; many agents find a lot of engagement by posting neighborhood video guides and physically walking their visitors through the landscape.

Level up: Community events and development news

As local newspapers have shrunk, the availability of news around what’s happening when, and who’s building what, has also decreased significantly. 

People in the area want to know when the local flower festival is scheduled this year, what time it starts, and what activities and vendors they can expect to find if they attend. Likewise, they’re curious about those bulldozers at 10th and Main Streets. Is that going to turn into another cloth-napkin restaurant, or a Chuck E. Cheese? You might already know a lot of this information by virtue of your job as a real estate agent, and if you can provide it to your visitors, they'll keep coming back for more!

6. School ratings

GreatSchools is the best-known provider of school ratings; if you operate in a neighborhood with a significant number of families with school-aged children, then you can expect to hear lots of questions about school ratings and reviews. Giving visitors those details upfront on your website can save time, and it offers a level of transparency and self-service that may buyers appreciate

Level up: Profiles of administrators and interviews with parents

A score can only tell you so much about something, and when that “something” is as complicated as a school, then it’s understandable that parents will likely have more questions about what those scores mean and whether they can really be trusted.

If you know parents whose kids go to the big elementary or middle school in your area, ask them if they’d be willing to answer some questions (anonymously, if you like) about their experience. Better yet, if you know a lot, send out a survey and see what kind of results you get. School administrators don’t always have time to talk, but if you explain what you’re doing and tell them you’re hoping to give a more comprehensive and insightful view of their school, you might be surprised by how many are willing to sit down for 10 or 20 minutes to talk about their current challenges and vision for the future.

7. Contact forms

Website visitors who want more information or who would like to learn more about you will need a way to do so, and contact forms can be a hassle-free way to capture some facts around who they are and what they’re seeking before you enter a conversation. Adding a form as a sidebar option is a convenient way to invite a visitor to ask a question or start a discussion.

Level up: Chat box

Sometimes, waiting for a real estate agent to read your question, consider the answer, and formulate a reply is not the most ideal setup from a client perspective. Also, many buyers and sellers have a very real fear of getting spammed incessantly if they offer up an email address or phone number right away—the fact of the matter is that there are some real estate “professionals” who have given the industry a bad rap.

One solution is a chat box, where your website visitors can ask questions (if they have them) in a no-pressure, hassle-free environment. Depending on your visitors’ needs, your chat service might offer some prewritten scripts for common questions, or perhaps you’ll find it worth the expenditure to have a live human who can provide white-glove service on the other end of that chat box.

Level up: Newsletter sign-up

In addition to a contact form and chat box, some agents send newsletters about local happenings, real estate news, or any other relevant knowledge and insights about the area; for those agents, embedding a newsletter sign-up box into your website (along with a description of how often recipients hear from you and the general contents of the newsletter) is a fantastic way to capture new subscribers and give your website visitors an easy way to keep in touch with you. (Make sure your newsletter is set up so that any replies or questions go directly to your inbox!)

8. Testimonials

Some clients put more faith in testimonials than others, but their very existence speaks to one fact: A certain number of buyers and sellers enjoyed working with you enough to take the time to document that experience in writing. So it’s wise to include them on your website if you have them (and you should be collecting them!); even though few clients are likely to make a decision based solely on a testimonial, they’ll be reassured by the fact that the testimonials are there at all.

Level up: Social media feeds

This level-up works best for agents who are already active on social media and have established a presence and personality that works for them. The point of a testimonial is to share what it’s like to work with you, and your social media pages can do that equally as well. 

If you spend your day shooting photos to upload to Instagram, and the blend of gorgeous homes and happy buyers and sellers are telling a story about your abilities, why not showcase your feed—either on its own page or as a sidebar option—so that your visitors can get a sense for what your day-in-the-life is really like?

9. Linking to social media

The little squares at the bottom of a website page are so ubiquitous that they’re hardly unique to real estate. Just about everyone is expected to have some kind of social media presence in 2021, and the icons on your website are usually nothing more than an indication that you understand your obligation and have created your profiles accordingly.

Level up: Integrate Facebook Messenger

As Facebook has continued to expand its products, Messenger in particular has created some fascinating integration opportunities with websites, especially in real estate. You can create integrations that allow buyers to search listings as if through a chat interface with Facebook Messenger, or talk to your chatbot directly, or any number of other real-estate-specific use cases. Instead of asking your buyers and sellers to leave social media and visit your website, you can reach them where they are.

More than anything else, your real estate website is a chance to show visitors that you understand what they want, are willing and able to provide it, and can offer a level of service and value they truly can’t find anywhere else. Consider adding an extra website component here and there, wherever you think your users will value it most—we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how your leads and conversion rates reflect your new attention to detail!

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