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22% of home buyers started their search by reading local newspaper ads to find a home… in 1981.
In 2016, 44% of home buyers started looking for properties by browsing the internet.
Clearly, it’s been a busy 35 years.
And keeping up with those massive changes can be difficult. In today’s real estate world, you don’t just need a website, you need one of the best websites.
Since all of your competition is online, just being online isn’t enough.
You need to stand apart from the hundreds of thousands of results that Google generates with any given search and you need to have a website that pulls leads and converts visitors.
Of course, that’s easier said than done.
Which is why I reviewed some of the best real estate agent websites from 2017 and found ten noteworthy trends that you can copy.
Here they are.
Real Estate Website Commonality #1: Real Estate Websites With IDX
The first trend is simple but worth mentioning.
Real estate agent websites with IDX tend to pull in more traffic, leads, and revenue than their listing-less counterparts.
The reason is simple. If people don’t have to leave your website to view listings, they will spend more time on your domain. Which means that when they find a house they love, they’ll contact you instead of the competition (because they’re on your website already).
But what exactly is IDX?
IDX is a website integration that allows visitors to browse and search for MLS-style listings on your website.
The best part, though, is that, with IDX, you don’t have to update your listings manually. IDX will do it for you automatically.
It’s low maintenance and crazy effective.
Which is why we include IDX integration within Carrot’s real estate agent website design.
This is what IDX looks like in action.
With IDX, visitors can search for houses natively on your website rather than having to leave and go to Zillow or Realtor.com.
And the more time people spend on your website, getting to know you and your business, the better they’ll remember you when they’re reading to buy a house.
However, no matter how good the IDX on your website, people still go to third-party listing websites at some point.
Zillow, for example, has 160 million monthly users. 50% of visitors to Zillow are planning to buy or sell a home. And there are even two million real estate professionals listed on Zillow.
You can’t compete with that.
Still, though, IDX is worth having because some people will stay on your website to browse listings.
But there’s another reason that you should consider using IDX. Namely, because it allows you to easily choose featured properties for your front page.
With IDX, you don’t just give visitors the ability to search your website for homes, you create a simple system for featuring homes that you think will sell quickly and with a high-profit margin.
All you have to do is go to the pool of IDX-generated listings and select the ones you want to feature.
And as you probably know, no home sells better than a featured home.
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Real Estate Website Commonality #2: High-quality Pictures And Videos
As I looked through some of the top real estate agent websites on the internet, I couldn’t help but notice that each had stunning visuals.
Pictures like this…
And videos like this…
As it turns out, real estate website design and professional photography are a match made in heaven.
If you want people to buy a house, then you have to make it look good.
And one of the best ways to do that is by using remarkable videos and photos for your house listings.
In fact, according to one study, listings with professional photographs saw 139% more clicks and sold for anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 more than expected.
Really, that’s no surprise.
When a house looks beautiful, people want to buy it. Home buyers spend 60% of their time looking at listing photos and homes with high-quality photos receive a 47% larger asking price per square foot than homes without high-quality photos.
Even if you pay a photographer $500 or $1,000 to take photos of the house, that investment is well worth it.
Real Estate Website Commonality #3: Compelling House Descriptions
Above all, you’re a salesperson.
Your job is to sell houses to people who want to buy a home in your area. And you want them to buy from you whether your relationship started offline… or online.
For that reason, the top real estate agent websites have remarkable, emotionally-charged, enthralling descriptions of properties.
They don’t just put something like, “Hey. Here’s a house for sale. It’s nice. Buy it.”
Instead, they use powerful language and compelling… well, sales copy.
Here’s an example.
“Exquisitely designed ranch on finished basement. Professionally landscaped, this home has left no stone un-turned, newly refinished bleached wood floors, high end lighting fixtures, detailed mill work and storage galore. Stunning formal living and dining room, fireside family room, magazine worthy kitchen with chevron backsplash, state of the art appliances, quartz countertops, pantry and wine fridge. Breakfast room with panoramic windows overlooks lush gardens, master ensuite on main level with his & hers closets. New HVAC, hot water heater, and electrical. This is it!”
See how the description evokes an emotional response with words and phrases like “his & hers closets,” “fireside family room,” and “This is it!”?
You want to do the same thing with your descriptions. Here’s another example from the same website.
“BEST DEAL ON THE MARKET!! This beautiful Parkview property has been COMPLETELY RENOVATED from top to bottom. Hardwood floors span the main level. Fireside living room and dining room feed into the open concept kitchen with island and plenty of storage space. Spacious bedroom/den on the main level, laundry room steps away from the kitchen. Property is almost an acre, beautifully landscaped level fenced-in backyard. Mins away from Downtown Atlanta, East Lake Golf Course, & Little Five Points Shopping Districts. Walk into a home with instant equity.”
This illustrates an important point. When writing the description for a home on your website, your primary goal isn’t to give all the specs or drown people in details.
You want to flatter them. You want them to feel as though they’ve found the best house on the market and they would be silly to pass it up.
You want them to need it.
Additionally, Bill Gassett from MaxRealEstateExposure, recommends doing this:
“When writing your listing description it is important to mention the qualities of the property that stands out over and above the competition. For example, if all the competing homes have a two car garage and yours has a three car, this is something you would want to emphasize.”
In other words, point out the good and don’t mention the bad — at least, not yet.
There will come a time when you have to mention problems with the house, but that time is not right now. First, you want people to fall in love with the property. Then, and only then, will they forgive its flaws.
Finally, if you really want to make your product description shine, consider this study by Zillow.
In the research, Zillow observed over 24,000 homes sold and found that these 15 words were within the descriptions of homes that sold for more than expected.
On the left is the word analyzed and on the right is the average percentage increase of what the home sold for (relative to what realtors expected it to sell for).
- Luxurious — +8.2%
- Captivating — +6.5%
- Impeccable — +5.9%
- Stainless — +5%
- Basketball — +4.5%
- Landscaped — +4.2%
- Granite — +1% – 4%
- Pergola — +4%
- Remodel — + about 2%
- Beautiful — +2.3%
- Gentle — +2.3%
- Spotless — +2%
- Tile — +2%
- Upgraded — +1.8%
- Updated — +0.8%
When appropriate, consider tossing some of these words into your descriptions to give them a better conversion rate and a wider profit margin.
Real Estate Website Commonality #4: Easy-to-access Contact Information
It might seem like an overly-simplistic element to your website, but the trend is undeniable: the best real estate websites for agents make it easy to contact the broker.
This element on your website is so crucial that I couldn’t avoid mentioning it.
All of the best real estate agents are doing it.
From Carol Staab…
To Jon Grauman…
But lest you think that a “Contact” button isn’t actually all that important, consider some of our own heat map data from Carrot.
On our Carrot real estate investor websites, we found that the “Call Us” CTA in the corner lights up like a Christmas tree.
That’s not a huge surprise, of course.
When people find a house they love, they want to contact someone, they want to try and figure out what it would to take to purchase the home.
And, frankly, they don’t want to do that part of the process online. They want to talk to a real person.
All you have to do is let them.
Real Estate Website Commonality #5: Mobile-responsive Design
Did you know that 80% of internet users own a smartphone?
How about that 61% of internet users won’t return to a website if they had trouble accessing it on their phone — and that 40% of those frustrated visitors go to a competitor’s website instead?
If you didn’t, now you do.
Clearly, mobile browsing isn’t a thing of the future, it’s a thing of right now.
Which means that your website absolutely must be mobile-flexible.
The best real estate agent website templates on the internet aren’t mobile-responsive because they’re ahead of the times; they’re mobile-responsive because they’re in-line with the times.
In other words, mobile-responsive is now par for the course.
If you’re not sure whether your own website is mobile responsive or not, you can use Carrot’s mobile responsive tool to find out.
Just type in the URL of your website and click “Start Test.”
On the left side, you’ll see what your website looks like on an iPhone and on the right side, you’ll see what your website looks like on an iPad.
If it doesn’t adapt to each device, you desperately need a new website.
All of Carrot’s real estate agent and investor websites are automatically mobile-responsive.
This is important for several reasons.
It helps your rankings in Google (because Google hates ranking un-mobile-friendly websites), makes visitors more comfortable with browsing your page on their smartphone, and even increases your conversion rate — conversion rates on mobile are 64% higher than on desktop.
If your website isn’t mobile-responsive, then you need to fix it as soon as possible.
Consider working with Carrot — we’d love to offer a hand. :-)
Real Estate Website Commonality #6: Clear CTAs
Someone visits your website and browses through a few house listings. They find one they love and they want to visit the house in person because they’re considering buying it.
But there’s a problem.
They can’t figure out where to go on your website to make that happen.
It might seem like a silly and unlikely situation — but rest assured, it happens.
When real estate agents design a website with unclear navigation, people leave before they even spend thirty seconds trying to figure out where to go next.
In fact, the average human attention span has been compared to that of a goldfish.
For that reason, the best real estate agent websites guide the visitor with clear and easy-to-find CTAs.
Buttons like this…
But, you’re probably wondering, what makes those buttons so clickable?
- Copy clarity
- Visual clarity
First, let’s consider copy clarity.
What do I mean by “copy clarity”?
I mean having button text that is clear — button text that answers the question, “What happens when I click this?”
When HubSpot tested the button copy on one of their own CTAs, for instance, they found that “See demo” outperformed “Test it out” by a whopping 82% (from 2.47% conversion rate to 4.49%).
Because no one knows what “Test it out” means — so fewer people are going to click it. “See demo,” on the other hand, is clear. I know what’s going to happen when I click that button and thus I’m more willing to click it.
In other words, clarity converts.
And not just in terms of button copy, also in term of button color (or visual clarity).
Consider, as a bad example, if you were trying to buy something from this website. Where would you click?
Yeah… I’m not sure either.
Nothing immediately stands out that I should click and there are so many different things going on that I have no idea where to start.
The point is, the best websites for real estate agents make it blatantly clear what they want visitors to do.
And button color is a great way to add visual CTA clarity to your website.
HubSpot did another study where they analyzed the color of a CTA. In this study, the red button converted visitors 21% more than the green button.
Well, take a moment to look at the green button example. How much other green stuff is on the page?
As you can see, there’s enough green on the page for the button color to blend in. Sure, you can still see where you’re supposed to click. But it doesn’t immediately pop out.
Now consider the example with the red button.
Clearly, the red button immediately demands your attention.
But not because red is better than green. In this case, the red button draws your attention better because there’s very little other red content on the page. This means that you immediately notice the big red button.
The green button, on the other hand, blends in and is less visually outstanding.
The best real estate websites for agents have clear CTAs that stand out visually. That’s a trend you should consider mimicking.
Real Estate Website Commonality #7: An “About” Page
It seems like a no-brainer. Still, some real estate agents forget to include an “About” page on their website.
However, as you might’ve guessed, the best in the business don’t.
Here’s one example from The Nartey Group…
And another example from Greg Noonan…
That similarity among the best real estate websites for agents is no accident.
Here’s a heatmap we ran on our own website, which shows just how many people are clicking the “About” tab on our own website.
And on our website, people aren’t making one of the biggest buying decisions of their life: purchasing a home.
On your website, they are. Imagine how much more important the “About” page is when visitors are trying to make a decision of that magnitude.
People want to know who they are working with — and when they’re buying a house, they really want to know.
In fact, our own research revealed that the “About” tab is the third most-clicked page on real estate websites, regardless of the type of realtor.
This means that you should take a little extra time to think through your “About” page and make sure it’s a shining illustration of your company values and industry expertise.
One Carrot client — The G Team — puts their company vision, for instance, at the very top of their “About” page.
Above all else, The G Team wants to build trust with the people who visit their website.
You want to do the same.
And since people are visiting your “About” page regularly, it’s a great place to do that.
Real Estate Website Commonality #8: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The best real estate agent websites are the ones that show up first in Google under a relevant search.
In fact, you could argue that Google results is the biggest indicator of a great real estate agent website.
If it ranks in Google under relevant keywords, then more people click it, visit it, and, more than likely, buy from it.
Just consider that 44% of homebuyers purchase a home that they found online or that 93% of all online experiences start with a search engine.
However, Google offers a lot of competition, even for the little town of Roseburg, Oregon — 766,000 results, to be exact.
With all that online competition, it’s probably no surprise to find out that 72% of real estate agents are unsatisfied with how many leads their website generates.
If you’re in that category of discouraged real estate agents, it’s alright. At Carrot, we understand.
We help tons of our client’s websites rank in Google. In fact, it’s part of every single package we offer. If you want a website that generates passive traffic consistently and pulls in leads, give us a call — we’d love to help you out.
And if you’re unsure about whether you should work with us, consider that if you type “sell my house fast Boston” into Google, the top three results are — you guessed it! — Carrot customer websites.
There are tons of different pieces to SEO, but one of the ways that we help our clients rank in Google is by encouraging them to put their target keywords front and center on their website.
Like this, for example.
Greg Noonan does something similar.
Why is this so important?
Because Google uses the title of each page on your website to determine what the page is about. If you put the topic at the… well, top, then Google will have an easier time knowing where to rank your website.
Get Your Free SEO For Agents Keyword Bible
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Or check out our real estate agent websites and automate your SEO.
Real Estate Website Commonality #9: A Trust-building Blog
When prospects land on your website, there’s one thing that you need to do above all else: build trust.
If the person lands on your website and doesn’t trust you or, worse, thinks you’re a spammer, there’s no way they’re going to work with you.
In fact, according to one study, the most important factor when choosing a real estate agent is honesty and credibility.
And one of the best ways to build trust with your audience is by proving to them that you know what you’re talking about.
How can you prove you know what you’re talking about?
By starting a blog and posting consistently.
If you do, you’re in good company.
And Casaday Allison…
And Greg Noonan…
The point is, a blog on your website can work wonders to build trust and credibility. It’s an easy addition to your website that can make a massive difference. You can also consider creating real estate infographics rather than blog posts or videos if you’d prefer.
What, though, if you don’t know what your content should discuss?
No problem. Simply ask yourself this: What are the most common questions that your prospects and customers ask you?
Real Estate Website Commonality #10: Glowing Testimonials, Case Studies, And Reviews
The final thing that the best real estate websites for agents have in common is glowing testimonials, case studies, and reviews.
Remember, your number one goal is to build trust with the people who visit your website.
In many cases, that alone will determine whether people work with you or not: do they trust you?
And perhaps there’s no better way to build immediate trust than with testimonials, case studies, and reviews.
In fact, 88% of people trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from friends.
Which is why the best in the business regularly use these elements.
Here’s Michelle Hammons….
And Casady Allison…
And The G Team…
Just how important are these reviews and customer-based ravings?
Well, one study found that brands which inspire highly emotional experiences — for which case studies are remarkable — see three times more word-of-mouth than their feeling-less counterparts.
People trust reviews and testimonials inspire customers to share your business with their friends.
Copyblogger recommends asking these questions of happy customers to collect remarkable testimonials:
- What was the obstacle that would have prevented you from buying this product?
- What did you find as a result of buying this product?
- What specific feature did you like most about this product?
- What are three other benefits of this product?
- Would you recommend this product? If so, why?
- Is there anything you’d like to add?
Today, it’s not enough to have a website. You need to have one of the best real estate agent websites in the digital world — or, at least, in your local area.
If you don’t have a great website, then you won’t rank in Google, people won’t trust you, and you will probably lose leads.
On the other hand, if you use a website with IDX integration, high-quality visuals, compelling listing descriptions, mobile-responsive design, clear CTAs, a thorough “About” page, SEO, a trust-building blog, and glowing testimonials, then you’ll not just drive deals through your website, you’ll be among the best in the business.
How’s the old adage go? “If you want to be the best, copy the best.”
Or, if you don’t have the time, you can check out Carrot’s real estate agent website builder and we’ll do all of this for you.
What trend have you noticed among the best real estate agent websites?