The Hidden Cost of Getting and Keeping a WordPress Website.

Services for Real Estate Pros with Personal SEO - Website SEO and Real Estate Marketing

 ~By Tim Emineth

We have talked to a lot of agents, that are moving from an “all in one site” to a WordPress website. I define all in one sites as websites that have a larger monthly fee and everything is provided for you, the MLS solution and the content. An example of the All in one sites are iHouseweb, Real Geeks, Boomtown, flexmls or any other turn key site. I am not saying that these sites are bad if you have one and if it's working for you then great. The key phrase is if it is working for you, if it isn’t then you have a 3 options (yes only 3.)

  1. Switch to another all in one site.
  2. Create your own custom site.
  3. Have no site. (I know of a few successful agents that do not have a website and make a great living.)

    For the sake of this article I am going to stay with option 2. Option 1 is just shopping, and option 3 is an entirely different article on how to have a successful real estate carrier without a website. (let me know in the comments if you are interested in that ;)

Here is the list of hidden costs in creating your own WordPress website. I wanted to spell this out because ownership comes with a cost. Sometimes with sticker shock and sometimes it is really easy to handle. So, let’s get to it.

Wordpress theme

The cost of a theme.

Whether you are using a WordPress developer or not there is the cost of a WordPress theme. Most of the time the developer builds it into the total cost of the site. If you are going on your own then you will know the cost. A lot of developers and agents use Themeforest to buy themes. The average cost of a theme is between $40 to $60 (not bad for a one-time fee.) But if you buy a theme from Themeforest you only get 6 months of support and there is an additional $18 for the whole year and then after that year is over you will have to spend that same amount for a total of $78. I know you are thinking, I just won’t buy it every year but then if you don’t do that then your site can be hacked because they are continually patching security holes in the theme. (this is every theme by the way).

So, what’s the other option? You can buy a framework such as Genesis (from studiopress), Thesis (from diythemes), Equity (from agent evolution), Divi (Elegant Themes)… etc. Frameworks come with their own costs. You have to buy the framework then sometimes a fee or sometimes you get them both. Here are the costs of frame works:

1. Agent Evolution - $99 a year, each theme is 49.99
2. Genesis - $59.99 One time, each theme is about $69
3. Thesis - $87 a year, 1 skin is included


The cheapest option and the best ROI is Genesis just because it is a one-time fee rather than a yearly cost. Frameworks are always the way to go when purchasing a theme because the framework is updated while your child theme or skin is left alone, this way you don’t lose any customization you or your developer may have installed.

Website hosting


Hosting is another fee this can range between $50 a month for WordPress managed hosting (the hosting company fixes issues and makes sure that you site is updated) to $3 a month if you pay for a year at a time. What you are looking for in a good host for SEO is speed and support.

Read More: What's the difference between host, domain, and website?

I have Google’d best WordPress hosting (and the year) almost every year so that I can help agents find faster hosts. The same names usually come up and they are InMotion, Bluehost, WP Engine, Hostgator and SiteGround. This is not a hosting review article this is just to mention costs. WP Engine I think is the most at $30 a month so on average I am going to say that hosting is about $15 a month.


SSL Certificate

Some hosts build this into the monthly cost of hosting like WP Engine but and SSL cert. costs on average $69 a year.

So, let’s catch up on costs:

Monthly Costs - $15 for hosting
Yearly Costs:
• $69 a year for the SSL Cert.
• $99 a year for a framework (if you chose one that has a yearly cost).
• $78 a year if you bought your theme from ThemeForest.


IDX Solution (Property Search Feature)property search

If you're an agent you may need an IDX solution on your site so that visitors can search for properties. There's a fee for that.

  1. IDXBroker - $100 setup fee $39 to $59 a month if you use a developer code like this one the $100 setup fee is waived. (link above)
  2. Showcase IDX - $59 a month no setup fee. 
  3. - $99 setup and $39 a month 

Again, this is if you are doing this all by yourself. If you hire a web designer then there is usually an hourly cost which on average is $75 to $150 an hour.

If you are tech savvy and design your own site it will save you the hourly cost but if you are not you'll need to find a developer to design the site for you. (Here is our shameless plug)


Now let’s skip ahead to the hidden costs after your site is designed. Now that you have your beautiful site designed and your IDX in place. Here are the fee’s that you will have.

Monthly Costs:
1. $15 a month for hosting.
2. $60 a month for IDX.

Yearly Costs:
1. $8 for domain renewal each year (buy in 5-year increments) you would have to pay this no matter what you decided to do.
2. $69 for SSL
3. $50 for CDN (I will get to this) Costs can go higher based on traffic.


What is a CDN?

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) the best way to describe this is as such. Say you want a pizza but the closest pizza place is 30 mins away. If the pizza place was using a CDN to deliver their pizza then the network makes the pizza 10 mins away saving you 20 mins. Now everyone in your neighborhood can drive 10 mins instead of 30 mins saving everyone time. Now just replace pizza with your website and the mins with seconds and you get the general idea. Instead of having to go to your server where you are hosting your website, your website is cached on servers closer to the people visiting your site hence delivering your website faster.

Google wants your site to load quickly and this is a tool to load your site quickly and possibly avoid a slow load penalty. Google wants your mobile site to load in 1 second and this is how webmasters and get that done. (Yes, this is a whole other article)

cost of a wordpress site


And the grand total of the yearly cost is $1027.

This is not including any additional cost in marketing or pay per click ads; this is the base cost of owning your own WordPress website. Remember the “all in one” solutions which they average around $100 a month so doing everything yourself saves you $200 a year (give or take).

So why bother?

Having your own WordPress website gives you complete ownership. You can change brokerages, change the look and feel and market yourself better than the other option. For example, if you use an all in one solution and decide that you want to change the way that your site looks while there may be a fee for doing that you will only have the choice of one of the pre-designed themes that someone else has created for you. So, you get little to no flexibility.

Also, let’s say that you want to change your all-in-one solution for another one. Then you will have to spend hours coping and pasting your content from one site to another. (I have done it and it sucks)

One major issue is that these all-in-one sites also provide you with content; the same content that they provide everyone else, so for SEO reasons it is always better to start from scratch rather than automatically getting hit with a duplicate content penalty. (If you haven’t deleted all of the “canned” content that you are given then please delete them now they are only hurting you.)

This is why as a marketing company we always ask ourselves, are our customers getting a return on the investment that they spend a year with us? Are we providing them leads that get closed to cover our costs and the costs of having a website altogether (and then some). To be honest most of the time we do a great job and sometimes we just can’t get anything we try to work. Then I have the conversation with my clients, “I don’t think we are doing a good job for you. What do you think we need to do in your market? What do you think about this new direction? Let’s come up with a strategy that will work.” This also the reasoning behind the Scream Out Loud Marketing article that I wrote a while back.


Owning your own website, in my opinion, is the best way to go. Even if you pay for someone to design it, because you own it. Owning gives you freedom to move and adjust quickly to your local real estate market in look and feel. If you have any questions about how to OWN everything yourself, give us a call!


Posted by

Personal SEO Tim and Tammy Emineth

Personal SEO Facebook Page Personal SEO Instagram Page Tammy Emineth Pinterest Page Personal SEO Linkedin Page Linkedin Page


Tim and Tammy Emineth have owned Personal SEO since 2004. We focus on SEO first whether it's blogging, images, website design, IDX solutions and calls to action. We operate with a Storybrand philosophy to encourage more traffic to your site, more eyes on your content and more leads to your business. Call us or email us for a free website audit.

Tim: 425-443-8372  Tammy: 425-344-0677


Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Will Hamm 10/03/2017 01:13 PM
  2. Roy Kelley 01/08/2018 01:00 AM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
Technology Side of Active Rain
website design
wordpress website
website developer

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Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

As always, super helpful in terms of understanding sites, costs, and themes.  Thanks to going through this a few times, I actually understand what you write about!

Sep 12, 2017 10:39 AM #37
John Meussner
Mason-McDuffie Mortgage, Conventional Loans, Jumbo Loans, FHA, 203(k), USDA, VA, - Walnut Creek, CA
#MortgageMadeEasy Walnut Creek, CA 484-680-4852

Good info here, I shared it with an agent friend that's been trying to figure out the best approach for a site --- I've been telling her for a while that owning her own is the way to go.

Sep 12, 2017 02:06 PM #38
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

Thank you for the information.  I am the ungeek and appreciate posts like these.  Congrats on the feature!

Sep 12, 2017 05:21 PM #39
Randy Mitchelson,APR
Marketing Coach & Homeland Heroes Home Loans - Bonita Springs, FL
First Impressions are made at First Click

Well written Tammy and very accurate. I quote my clients 1,050 per annum for hosting, security, maintenance and SSL and include prepaid time for updates too vs paying $125 per hour for al a carte services so your estimates are right in line. Great advice.

Sep 12, 2017 08:06 PM #40
David Wright
Benchmark Realty, LLC - Brentwood, TN
Real Estate Refined

Thanks Tammy for sharing the behind the scenes costs & operations of a WP site. It does get expensive, but a must have tool in the digital world.

Sep 12, 2017 08:57 PM #41
Mike Kelly,CRS,CIPS
The MJKelly Team - Santa Rosa, CA
"One of Sonoma County's Natural Resources"

I'm not in the web design business. I'm in the real estate business. Never give away 50% when you can hire someone for $15.00 an hour to do it for you. 

Sep 12, 2017 09:45 PM #42
Laura Filip
Laura Filip Broker , Opening doors for All Seasons of Life - Whitesboro, TX
What can we do for you today?

Thank you for sharing this information. Tried several options including having a site built for me not a good experience at all. Still not sure of the way to go on a site and or platform. One day at a time is all one can say with it. Have a blessed day. 

Sep 13, 2017 11:21 AM #43
Cherie Young
Carlsbad Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate

I see too often agents wanting WordPress because it's free.  It's not, but worth owning your online business.  With all the so called cheap sites out there, it's easy to see why agents start with these, can't work with them, no seo value, IDX/CRM that fails.

Setting expectations is key.  Even a $1,000 a year for a site is cheap for maintenance, it's a business.  Setting a WordPress site up with themes that are impossible to work around is not a good idea.  Genesis in my book is one of the worst.

All IDX's are not equal, the 3 listed here are not ideal.

We need to move forward with cutting edge technology, which is now available with WordPress.  It's probably something you need to hire a professional to do.  I know there are some very savvy agents that know how to work with their sites.  The majority are sold a site without a true road map to your own business and how to grow into your site.

Do your due diligence, check out your competitors see what they are doing, then take it up a notch.

Cherie Young

Sep 13, 2017 11:41 AM #44
Cherie Young
Carlsbad Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate

I cannot mention one of my clients, but they did $200M in business last year and hired an seo guy, paid him $120K.  Using showcase gallery, absolutely no ranking and only 200 leads for the year to show for it.

Ranking in the search engines does not mean that you will convert to leads. Buyers have Zillow, Trulia, Redfin to go to and if your site is not easy to navigate, poor CRM/IDX, it won't matter where you are at in the search engines.

There is so much to this conversation.

Sep 13, 2017 11:48 AM #45
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

I am clueless... i really would like to have a web site I like.. but haven't gotten there yet. I appreciate your post it is clear and concise, maybe we should talk some day!

Sep 14, 2017 12:14 AM #46
Royalty One Mortgage
Royalty One Mortgage - Henderson, NV
Mortgage company in Henderson, Nevada


 This is some very solid information, thanks for sharing! We chose to build our mortgage website on WordPress & are constantly adding & tweaking the mold - but absolutely love it & would never go with a different CMS at this point in time. I personally believe that the custom website route is ALWAYS the better route to go as even with the initial up-front costs being more pricey, the long term benefits of having total control over your site, content, etc, is too valuable to pass up. I've known a few Realtors who prefer using all-in-one solutions (Real Estate Webmasters is a solid one), however, the SEO capibilities & freedom you get with a custom build (WordPress all the way) is a necessity in my mind if you truly want to 'rank' with the best of them.


Looking forward to reading your next post!


-T.J. / The Royalty One Mortgage Team

Sep 15, 2017 09:50 AM #47
Cherie Young
Carlsbad Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
Carlsbad Real Estate

Great comment Tammy.  I get agents from other all-in-one sites, like REW, who have spent the last 10 years building their sites with these companies.  While they may rank well, you will never own your site.  The referrals came to me in complete distress not knowing what to do.  They wanted out, but these companies do not provide ftp access to their sites, which they can do.  And you have no control over costs, which in many cases can be alot more than necessary.

It is absolutely untrue when these all-in-one websites tell you that WordPress is bad for seo.  Seo is seo, keep your WP sites lean in code, don't bloat with frivilous plugins.

WordPress done right is the best way to go.  Stay lean on your plugins as they can slow your site down and if not managed/updated by the creator of the plugin, can you easily be hacked and spread viruses from your site.  This is not to alarm you.  There are some easy rules when owning your site.  Only download known plugins with excellent ratings.  Keep your plugins up-to-date and only a few.

Don't go cheap on your server.  This is the most costly mistake you can make.  $30 a month will get you a great server with  Sites run fast, and WPEngine is very strict about disallowing plugins that are known to create problems.

Happy Friday!

Cherie Young

Sep 15, 2017 01:33 PM #48
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

This is a very good break down of costs. I consciously made the decision 4 years ago to go with an all-in-one. No canned content for me. Since AR taught me how to create content, there's no lack of it on my site. I didn't want to take the time to learn WP and I'm too much of a control freak to pay someone else to do it for me. I've thought about creating a WP site in addition to my other site but there are only so many hours in a day. I'd rather be creating content for one site rather than two. But if I ever make I change, I know where to come.

Sep 15, 2017 10:40 PM #49
Eva B. Liland Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service 661-714-1643

Having your own Wordpress site also means, even though you buy a theme, YOU have to have enough knowledge to set it up yourself. If you can't, or won't, that is an additional cost.

Sep 16, 2017 02:37 AM #50
Stavrula "Sam" Crafa, RNC,GRI, CDPE, PSA
Future Home Realty - Seminole, FL
Providing the integrity and service you deserve.

Lots of information that I never knew and an interesting read. I actually think I have a better FB business page then my website. So much so that I market my FB page instead of my website. So much to little time in the day. Congrats on the featured post. 

Sep 16, 2017 07:49 PM #51
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

As always, you've provided us with a wealth of valuable information to ponder! I'm going to check out Wordpress.

Sep 23, 2017 07:27 PM #52
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Many entrepreneurs don't look at time as a is the most expensive thing we all have to spend.

Oct 04, 2017 03:30 AM #53
Anthony Kirlew
Group 46:10 Network @ eXp Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Helping You Make Fiscally Sound Choices

Great info. The one I like to add is the cost of security plugins. I use Akismet for spam control ($5 per month) and Sucuri for anti malware (as low as $3.58 per month with multi year discount).

Oct 10, 2017 07:21 PM #54
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Congratulations on your feature recognition. This is excellent advice to share.

Oct 20, 2017 08:17 AM #55
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

What works for one agent or in one market may not work in another....there is no one size fits all in this business.-

Jan 08, 2018 03:13 AM #58
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