We recently got in touch with Nobu Hata, Director of Digital Engagement at the National Association of REALTORS®. Nobu is an expert in real estate marketing, communications trends, and emerging technologies. A veteran of the real estate industry since 1996, Nobu was a 2010 Minnesota & Minneapolis Realtor of the Year nominee.
Placester: What should the main purpose or goal of a real estate website be?
Nobu Hata: Add context to real estate search. Whether it be about the transaction or communities in which the site adds color or flat-out real estate education, it all leads to affinity and lead capture.
P: Real estate website design: Is it an art, a science, or some combination of the two?
NH: A combo of the two. I’m amazed at how a beautiful site can draw someone in – humans are visual creatures after all. But if the site is too unwieldy, cumbersome, or filled with broken links, they’re gone. The science in site design should be about making sure it works, then using analytics to float relevant content to the top.
P: Custom design vs. using a template: Which is the better option for building a real estate website and why?
NH: Given the choice, I’d go with a custom design. I know what my clients like and what they were looking for and I’d like to give them info my way with a design of my choosing. However I do think template sites have merit for most, especially new agents still piecing together their marketing plan. Get yourself out there, pay attention to your clients and let the site evolve. If it means migrating to a custom design, so be it.
P: What are some of the “must-have” elements that every real estate professional should include on their website?
NH: Aside from the usual suspects? A glossary of real estate terms. Examples of documents like purchase agreements, condo addendums, and a HUD, etc, with information demystifying it all. Local links – community, economic, market, etc. If an agent is an “expert” in their neighborhood, and the process to buy and sell a home within it, they need to prove it.
P: What’s the biggest mistake real estate professionals make when building a website?
NH: Everyone’s site looks and does the same thing as everyone else’s. There’s only so many ways you can take the same information and make it “prettier” so knock it off. Stop taking the easy way out and reproducing what your competition is doing, and instead do what they’re NOT. Be original. And that goes for the third-party advertisers as well.