Where Do I Go For A Website?

Education & Training with Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors

This is a frequent question asked by many REALTORS today. There are so many choices out there, but how many of them are really going to bring you results?

Recently, I read, "...Template sites could be created in less than a week, but all looked the same. Custom sites were expensive and took a long time to build, but looked great and functioned extremely well. Today, the gap between the two is shrinking."

This is a common misconception about a custom site vs. template and the time it takes to build one. Custom sites can also be built very quickly - the amount of time is really a function of the designer the client chooses and his/her skill level. Having built over 125 custom sites for real estate clients over the past 10 years, we have had web sites up for new clients in as little as 7 to 10 days - with all the content they needed and with a custom "look and feel" that would impress any visitor. To build a wonderful custom real estate website usually takes us about 30 to 40+ hours of work, but like real estate agents, working at web design is not necessarily a 9 to 5 job.

Now as to expense, certainly there can be a difference! As a novice web designer, you can take well over 30 to 40 hours (or a lot more) of your time "customizing" an inexpensive template to now truly display you, your services and all the benefits you offer your real estate prospects... OR you can hire a web design professional who in the same number of hours or less can build you a custom site you will be proud to show to any of your clients... while you do what you do best - list and sell homes!

All of us are proponents of using a real estate professional when buying or selling real estate, aren't we? Frankly, I don't understand why fellow REALTORS don't apply this same concept to other professionals rather than trying to do it themselves. Agents and brokers instead insist on trying to be "instant" web designers and specialists. "Oh, I don't need a web designer. I can do this myself! I can get a template for under $100 and get started." Gee, isn't that the exact same thing the For Sale By Owner says to us? "Oh, I don't need a real estate agent. I can sell my house myself. I got this For Sale sign at the hardware store for just a few dollars, I can place an ad in the newspaper, and I certainly know how to show my own house." Ha! And just like many FSBO's who fail at achieving the results they hoped for, countless agents who thought they could customize a template by themselves in their spare time and then get it found on the Web will have their web sites fail too.

"Before making a decision, here are a few things to consider. First of all, remember that content is king."

Again, this needs to be "qualified". Certainly you want text content that is not only appealing to the human visitor to read, but is also viewed by the search engines to use for indexing your web site so that it begins to achieve search engine rankings as well. But having a ton of content really doesn't get the job done. Internet surfers have a different sense of "time". They want their information quickly and they tend to just scan through the text. So it is better to give them the "30 second sound bite" than to give them a major "term paper" on how to buy or sell a house and why they should use you. On the Web, shorter can sometimes be better!

But more importantly, you want well-optimized content. What does "well-optimized" mean? This is content that is relevant to the geographical real estate marketplace you are working in as well as to the consumers you are trying to capture. And the content needs to be laden with keyword search phrases that the search engines will pick up on and index when ranking your web site. This not only includes the text on the pages that humans read, but also the Title tags, Meta Tag Descriptions, Alt tags of graphics, etc. in the HTML coding of each page of the site. Unfortunately, many template providers just don't give you that capability. And even with those that do allow this, your success is going to be in direct proportion to your ability to understand these concepts and incorporate them into your web site.

So think about these issues when trying to decide whether a template or custom web site is right for you. Web marketing can be one of the least expensive forms of marketing a real estate agent can ever do. Where can you market yourself to the World for so little money?? Your very next client may be contacting you from Europe or Asia... not just down the street or around the corner.


Win Singleton, CRB, e-Pro
Summit Web Design

Comments (5)

Bobby Carroll
Jaclyn Smith Properties - Clayton, NC
Clayton NC New Home Happiness Coordinator

Great post. Personally, I'm surprised at the lack of response. I love your FSBO analogy and the do-it-yourself websites. Your firm produces some very nice work! 

Jun 08, 2007 02:31 AM
John Popp
Charlotte, NC

I have a site provided by Meyers.  They offer Websites to both the mortgage industry and Realtor industry.

Pricing is not bad and they let you customize and add pages and information at no cost.  They do give you a quick course on how to modify the site. 


Jun 08, 2007 02:55 AM
Win Singleton
Summit Web Design and Long & Foster Realtors - Falls Church, VA
Web Designer & Associate Broker

Thanks for responding Bobby and John!

John wrote - "I have a site provided by Meyers.  They offer Websites to both the mortgage industry and Realtor industry.

Pricing is not bad and they let you customize and add pages and information at no cost.  They do give you a quick course on how to modify the site."

I don't mean to be overly critical, but John's web site - http://www.firstmetromortgagejp.com - pretty much helps to make my "case". ;-)

Having performed a search in Google, Yahoo! and MSN/Live for North Carolina Mortgage Company - the keyword phrase in the Title tag of his home page, I don't find his web site in the Top 30 results at all. So sure, Meyers is inexpensive - $199 set up and $35 a month for a REALTOR. But if the site can't be found by strangers (search engines can bring in as much as 60% of a web site's visitors), because that web site is not optimized properly (or may not even be capable of being fully optimized in a particular template), then what is the point? Vanity? Ego? Saving money? Or is it to bring in new clients and new business that would more than pay for the effort! In Cyberspace, no one can hear you scream! Ha!

So again, you can do this yourself at whatever you are worth per hour - learning all about HTML coding, SEO techniques and how to properly implement them, how the search engines see your web site and so much more. Or you can hire a professional to really do this while you concentrate on your real job - which isn't being a webmaster. Do you do your own plumbing? Are you your own roofer? For the vast majority of us, we know better and leave it to the pros! Maybe the same is true here.


Jun 08, 2007 05:27 AM
Ronald Stead
Valley HomeSteads - Woodstock, VA
Your HomeTown Real Estate Professional

Nice info. on your websites.  I keep seeing the term SEO and have no idea what that means.  Can you shed some light.  Also what do you think of these companies like housevalues.com that offer agents a supposedly complete marketing system including websites?



Oct 24, 2007 04:28 AM
Ronald Stead
Valley HomeSteads - Woodstock, VA
Your HomeTown Real Estate Professional

Got your call.  Sorry I did not get a chance to call back.  But I did figure out SEO (Search Engine Optimization) right?...lol.

I have been experimenting with a la mode (xsites) and
point 2 agent free websites.  My broker www.sherrywilson.com has a great site that I link to, so all I really need are a few pages about me with links to sherry's listing pages, search pages, etc. for now.
xsites seems to be decent but i dont know what they will take away at the end of my 20 day trial period of the professional suite.  Have a look if youlike and give me some feedback.



Oct 25, 2007 02:25 AM