I recently came across a new website, http://www.averyhess.com. The brokerage is Avery Hess REALTORS® serving Maryland, Virginia, Metro DC and West Virginia and I have to give them KUDOS. They recently launched this custom site and you just have to check it out for its clean, simple design and along with it, some pretty cool features.
The first thing you should notice is the front page. It’s very Web 2.0. Clean and simple; using a three column format on the bottom of the front page. Three columns are becoming more and more popular in web design and are useful because you can fit a good amount of text links and information without cluttering up the page. You can also use one or two of the columns for an auto-feed of your blog posts or relevant content for your SEO.
One of the most interesting and notable features of this site is its “MyLife” Home Search. This lifestyle search is interesting in that it lets the consumer delve more deeply into what kind of life they want to live based on very specific personal criteria - which ultimately translates into where they want to live. My husband, for example, loves to Kite Surf. Therefore, living in Iowa is out of the question…no offense to anyone from that part of the country. By pinpointing exactly what kind of criteria someone is looking for in their day to day life, this site presents listing results pages that are more tailored to the consumer, thereby increasing the likelihood of a sale. For example, this site offers a “Search by Metro Line” feature - commuters can find homes perfectly located near their specific metro rail line. They can even search for homes near their specific metro stop! Once you’re on a details page, it tells you just about anything you would want to know about what your life will be like living in that area- average gas prices, medical facilities nearby, shopping destinations and more. They have local school information but most notable is the estimated commute time and cost calculator. Fantastic!
How do they do this? Through custom programming on their website. Much of this information is FREE and you can obtain it, but it will take some effort to create it. You can provide just about any kind of information you’d like to if you have the creativity and motivation to provide it to your clients.
The reason I point this out is because I am noticing that with the economy, many real estate professionals are turning to template solutions because of price concerns. Though I can appreciate the need at this time, a template should not be a long-term solution. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are part of one of the largest member organizations in the country. That means you have a LOT of competition. As an agent or brokerage, you have to find more creative ways of providing value to your clients and standing out amongst the crowd. This website does exactly that and I guarantee you their business and agents will get more exposure because of it.
To find out what might help you stand out, do some market research yourself. Large marketing firms hire focus groups to analyze what is important. You don’t have to hire a large marketing firm to get one- get a group of your friends or contact some of your Facebook Fans and ask them if they’ll provide you information on what they might want to search on if they were looking to buy or sell property. Track their answers and tailor your website features to those needs.
As business starts to pick up and we enter into the coming new year, start thinking creatively about your online marketing- technology is always changing and unfolding. The possibilities are limitless if you set your mind to it. Through creative features and functionality, you can provide your clients a unique and specifically tailored experience on your website. The more specific information you can give, the more likely your visitors are to find your services of value.