3 Questions NOT to Ask When Getting a New Real Estate Website

Questions to ask about WordPress and IDX website

I had an interesting chat conversation with a prospective customer the other day. To protect his privacy, let’s say his name is Ron.

How does RealtyCandy compare to all of your competitors?

Ron was asking me to justify purchasing a RealtyCandy website vs. one of our competitors.

That is a great question, except I really don’t know what our competitors have.

Does that mean we don’t watch the market or we don’t know what is going on in the real estate world?

Not necessarily.

We do follow what happens in the real estate industry and we have been members of RESO and other organizations that are deeply involved in what happens to technology in the real estate industry.

But, there isn’t enough time in a day for us to review each of our competitors’ current offerings and make a good RealtyCandy vs. “them” guide.

We assume that our competitors are like us and they are always improving and making something better and easier for their clients to use.

Sometimes the comparisons can come down to something like: Which is better, a Mercedes or a BMW?

The answer: It depends on who you ask…

 

Can you add XYZ feature to my new website?

This is a VERY common question.

We get some version of “Zillow has XYZ feature.  Can you add that to my WordPress and IDX Broker website that I get from RealtyCandy?” each day.

I think to myself: “if this were a house, and I saw that $10,000 Italian marble sink in the kitchen of a mansion owned by Madonna, would I be asking my Realtor if they can toss one of those into the kitchen of a $200,000 house I am looking at in the suburbs?”

Zillow has invested millions of dollars into their website.

There isn’t anything on their site, that can’t be replicated somehow on your site.  But, you are going to need some deep pockets for some of the features.

We can’t build a feature that they spent $400,000 developing into a site that a client wants to purchase for $500 or $1000.  That just can’t happen.

“Ron” asked about building some maps for school districts in his area.  We can do that, but again, if his budget is $500 and he doesn’t want to spend any more than that, we can’t map the school districts.

When I ask Ron if he can do it, he doesn’t want to spend the time to do it.

He asks if we can copy one of our top client’s custom websites for him for $500.  No.  We can’t do that.

One of the issues is that some of our clients are fanatical about creating content.  (Yes, Chris, Mike, and Mark, I am looking at you!)

These clients and many others like them have spent either thousands of dollars, or hundreds of hours, or both building out pages of original and interesting content for their clients and website visitors.

If one of them is in a market like Las Vegas and Ron wants to copy their site for his area in Los Angeles, that content will need to be recreated.  It will take about as long as Mike spent working on the Vegas site to make it all happen.

There are no shortcuts in building a great real estate website.

Now if Ron is really busy selling real estate, that means he is making a bunch of money, so he can hire a writer for $20 per hour from his local university and she can write a page of content in about 2-3 hours for him.

So say for about $50 per page he can get some good content on his website.  That is a great deal.  With $1000 he can get about 20 pages of good content on his site.  That is $1000 bucks well-spent if you ask me.

Especially when you look at home prices in Los Angeles.  The median home price in LA is just over $500k and his commission would be about $10k for one transaction.

10% of that each time he did a closing would build an incredible website with so much rich content about his area that he would outrank Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com for his market area.

Which IDX vendor is the best?

This is another great question we get asked regularly.

It is like comparing smart phones:

Someone has a better camera, but someone else has a better screen, and someone else has great battery life, and the other has much better apps.

I have had smartphones from Palm, Blackberry, Apple, Nokia, etc… They are all better in someway or another than the others.

Ron asked “well which would you recommend if I had to make a decision?”

Again, I told him to look through the feature list and see which features they have and get the one that matches what he wants to do with his site the most.

The least important feature in an IDX service is price.

You want a tool that works great for you. You are in the real estate business.  If your IDX costs $29, $39, $99 or $999 per month it doesn’t really matter.  If you are using it to get business then it is worth it.

If you are just pouring it down the drain and your IDX is not helping you either capture new leads or retain existing clients, then get rid of it.  There is no point in paying for something you aren’t using.

We see some Realtors and brokers who get stressed about whether the $59 version is really worth more than the $39 version.  Or others who don’t want the $85 version because they want to spend less than $50 per month for the whole website.

Saving money in your business is very important, but most Realtors I worked with wasted $20-$50 per month in gasoline or spent that much on expensive lattes that they could have replaced with a free drink in the office.

Don’t get crappy tools in order to save a few dollars just to show your “bargaining skills”.  Use those skills to get a better deal for your buyer or seller and then invest back into your business.

[4:05 PM] James: Build a great site with original and compelling content about your market and it won’t matter which IDX you use.
[4:05 PM] James: We have some clients who get tons of leads and we have some who get none.
[4:05 PM] James: They have the same IDX in the exact same market.
[4:05 PM] James: Like Las Vegas.  We have a client who is crushing it.
[4:06 PM] James: and others who have never gotten a single lead.
[4:06 PM] James: They use the exact same tools.
[4:06 PM] James: So it is like building a house…
[4:06 PM] James: Do you use Black and Decker or Dewalt?
[4:06 PM] James: It doesn’t matter.
[4:06 PM] LinkedChat · (Ron): nice analogies
[4:06 PM] James: Design a great house
[4:06 PM] James: build it well.
[4:07 PM] James: You can cut the wood with a hatchet if you have to. 🙂

You can really use any IDX and have success with it.

Google isn’t going to shoot a bunch of leads to you because you are using a cool brand of IDX .

They know what a real estate listing is.  Google is also smarter than you and me, put together.  They don’t really punish you for using what is “duplicate content” with real estate listings, but you won’t get the “original content” credit for it either.

IDX is just a tool to keep people engaged once you get them to your site.

IDX works best for your existing clients and giving them something of value like email updates and auto-saved searches.

Can you create content for me?

[4:06 PM] LinkedChat · (Ron): do any of your products assist with creating unique content?
[4:07 PM] LinkedChat · (Ron): since that is what matters.

I wish we could.

We have enough on our plate writing our own content for our own RealtCandy website.  It takes time and planning to do the writing.

I tried to help a client in Little Rock Arkansas crop a photo to use on his website.  When I put it back on the site, he said “You cut out the clock tower! That is the most important part of the whole picture.  That is how people identify this part of town.”

Sorry!!  I don’t know enough about Little Rock, Rockport, or Rocky Point to make a good blog post about the area.

I haven’t even ever been to Miami, where many of our clients live.

We don’t have the writing skills or the knowledge to write good content for your website.

[4:08 PM] James: ultimately you will have to create the content.
[4:08 PM] James: I don’t know enough about your market to make it happen.
[4:08 PM] James: Or hire someone locally to do it.
[4:09 PM] James: If you want a good site, you can get some thing in about 10 hours.  A great site in 100 hours and something that is amazing may be 1000 hours.
[4:09 PM] James: You will either have to have a crappy site that was built in 1 hour or put in that time or pay someone else to put in the time.
[4:09 PM] James: There isn’t anyway around it.
[4:10 PM] James: Zillow didn’t get to be #1 by throwing $500 at a website.
[4:10 PM] James: 🙂
[4:10 PM] James: Apple didn’t build the iPhone in a weekend.
[4:11 PM] James: It takes time and energy.  The other stuff is just the tools.

We can help you with a great website like our SmartHome IDX or SweetHome IDX sites to get you setup with WordPress and IDX Broker, but you will need to be the “creative genius” to build the great website of your dreams.

Contact us today to build your high-performance real estate website.