Do you have full control of your WordPress real estate website?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Agent Reputation

I was reading posts in the Lab Coat Agents Facebook group and came across a discussion about real estate website designers. One company had mentioned their sites were WordPress which is a good thing. So, if I buy their website, and if I was already familiar with WordPress, then I would assume the dashboard would be a typical WP dashboard and I would have full Admin access. You would think so, right?

With that said, on many occasions when we have replaced websites built on the WP platform, we will transfer their entire blogging history with images, publish dates and the previously indexed content including the indexed URLs. We will also make sure their plugins remain intact. This way, when we launch their new website, though within a new theme, their history will be in the same URL location with the same publish date, thus not starting all over for their SEO.

We ran into some specific occurrences where the client stated they had a WP site but when we signed into their dashboard, it looked nothing like a WordPress dashboard.

While your website may have been built using .php WordPress technology, your web developer may have created an entirely different dashboard interface. A typical WordPress dashboard looks like this:


If your dashboard does not look anything like this, your web developer built a custom interface and this could cause future issues. One huge issue would be content migrations to a new WordPress real estate website if you choose to leave them. We had one client that had over 600 prior blog posts since 2012 and once we got in to the backend, we were at a loss. We had no way to zip up the folder and transfer to the new site. The client had to pay for many hours of work to have her posts manually recreated. Our backup plan would have been to FTP into her site and transfer the files, but the prior web developer would not give us FTP access. Probably because her website was being hosted in a multi-site shared server system which would also mean you don’t own the actual container(website).

Another issue would be the inability to place cool WordPress plugins on your website or maybe embedded technology or script. We run into this regularly when we place our Reputation Marketing technology on our client’s websites. They THINK they have full WP permissions, but again, when we sign in, we don’t see the dashboard. At that point we end up working with their soon to be prior web development company to get them to manually place our code into our clients real estate website.

WordPress web developers regularly create custom site management portals for a good number of reasons. Maybe they have combined the portal to not only manage the site but also give their clients CRM access. Or maybe they have a WIX style drag and drop design feature. Some devs will not give their clients full WP access so that the client does not destroy their own website, which I have seen happen. That reminds me. You may see a typical WordPress dashboard on your website when you sign in, but you may not have full admin permissions. You will know this if you only see a handful of feature tabs on the left hand side and no access to the USER tab.

I am not saying custom interfaces are bad. They can serve a purpose. Most WP developers can build custom dashboards for their client’s specific needs  But if you are thinking of buying(I mean RENTING) a WordPress real estate website, don’t just assume you will have typical WordPress access much less full admin access to your website.


Comments (55)

Melanie Cameron
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Wilmington, NC
The Cameron Team

Good post! Not many Realtors think of these details, because they really don't understand web technology that deeply. They get caught up in all the great features and don't fully consider what's not being said, which is a shame because that's part of negotiating and selling homes, so we should know better.  Still, not having full control over your website isn't always a bad thing. Some people can do more harm than good. You just need to make sure your content will be fully transferrable at a later time. As long as the content and URL structure is still there, you shouldn't get hit too hard in the rankings when you transfer your site later on. As we found when we moved to a new site, the IDX provider and the difference between how it was structured within the website hit us the worse, not our blog and info pages.

Oct 11, 2017 05:52 AM
Monica Bentley

This is so true, not only for Realtors but CPAs, chiropractors and many others. These sites are full of canned content. What that means is that it's the same on every one of their sites. That means you get ZERO SEO. Google doesn't give you any credit for duplicate content. It must be original to get ranked well. I've had clients who can't make any changes themselves, new pages can't be added for original content, button links were breaking constantly, etc. If you want good ranking and control over your site you really do need to DIY (or hire a professional).

Oct 11, 2017 07:05 AM
Bob Adelfson
HomeSmart Lifestyles - Queen Creek, AZ
Queen Creek's Hometown Realtor

I've had the good fortune of being a web developer for over 15 years before venturing into Real Estate. After renting a couple of different pre-packaged realtor websites I decided to build my own and chose to do so using WordPress with a great design overlay called Divi from Elegant Themes. A little reading on this should give anyone a good handle on building your own site. I chose iHomefinder's IDX with optima plug in and have ended up with a nice looking site that allows me to add my own plugins such as SEO, custom forms, auto responders, auto backup, custom blog, etc. It takes time to learn and to build but if you have the time it's well worth it.

Oct 11, 2017 07:28 AM
Chuck Tanner
Keller Williams Realty - Atlanta, GA
Associate Broker "Let's Get You Moving"

Good post. I agree. Since I know quite a bit about wp I had a guy help me with my site but I have full control. He even gave me access to the server. I would have it no other way. I can add/delete plugins even go into the editor or the theme options and make any changes that I so choose. However, I don't recommend this to someone who doesn't know what they are doing. ALWAYS, back up your site before making any changes!

Oct 11, 2017 07:47 AM
Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist
KD Realty - 408.972.1822 - San Jose, CA
Probate Real Estate

Yes, I do have full control of my WP sites.  I would not have it any other way. People need to do their homework and not be sold on buying something they are actually renting.  Good to see this Featured!

Oct 11, 2017 08:14 AM
Luke Acree
ReminderMedia - King of Prussia, PA
Making Agents Memorable

What is the thinking behind a developer creating a custome interface?

Oct 11, 2017 08:47 AM
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

Great post, CJ. But, if you don't know what you're doing in WP, it's best to leave that part to an expert.  And I agree with Anthony Kirlew about registering one's own domain names. You never want someone else owning your domain names.

Oct 11, 2017 09:15 AM
CJ Hays

Two choices: 1)  DiY which works for a very small group of tech savvy agents, some of which spend more time doing tech then getting listings 2)  Hiring an honest pro which is why I don't personally do FSBO on my homes

Oct 11, 2017 01:02 PM
John Oman
Newington, CT

Always good to know.  Thanks

Oct 11, 2017 10:34 AM
Liz and Bill Spear
RE/MAX Alliance 513.520.5305 - Mason, OH
RE/MAX Alliance Cincinnati & Dayton suburbs

Have my own domain, WP site with full rights (I'd better since I'm the only admin!) and know enough to have a good back up service just in case I mess it up or (more likely) some plug in update goes sideways.  I really don't pay much attention to our brokerage site because I want my effort where I own my content.  Bill

Oct 11, 2017 11:09 AM
Lyn Sims
Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg Real Estate Agent Retired

Many realtors don't understand a word that you've said. Placester is the perfect scam given to agents based on the rent to own WP theme.

Oct 11, 2017 01:22 PM
Zach Tetley
Nexus Homebuyers - Knoxville, TN
Real Estate Investor In Knoxville

We ran into this with our real estate website. We have a limited control view, and it makes it difficult at times to customize your site and make changes. It does have some advantages when you have someone running their own site that has no idea what they're doing. 

Oct 11, 2017 02:41 PM
jeff tomek
CliffordGroup - New Haven, CT
Connecticut's Premier Family Owned House Buyers

I find on our website there are limitations and having a custom WP panel does have it's disadvantages but i am certainly no web designer and messing with code and custom scripts is not something i have time for. 

Dec 22, 2017 05:50 AM
We Buy Houses In Connecticut
Sell My House In Connecticut - Wilton, CT
We buy houses in cash. Any condition

No, you will never have full control over your WP website or blog. In fact, this is actually a horrible thing. When one is serious about SEO, and when a deal can easily mean $60K in profits as it is in our case having a real estate CT cash house buyers website, you want to make sure no one can delete ban or alter your back end workings of the site, custon designed or not!

Mar 06, 2018 03:30 PM
Jack Rady
Zit Buys Homes LLC - Austin, TX
We Buy Houses in Austin in Any Condition

We originally had gone with one of the better-known investor template sites to use for our domain.  However, we soon realized that we wouldn't have total control of our site.  We immediately switched and have our Austin home buyers website with total control.  Good information in the article.  Thanks.

Apr 15, 2018 10:05 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Years ago a friend of mine had an FTP site that the provider controlled. They had listed the phone number incorrectly and she could not get them to change it, nor to give her the user name and password so we could do it.

We finally copied her site piece by piece and re-built it. Then had a heck of a time proving that it was her site, because the company had registered the domain with them in control.

Own your own site and programs!

Jul 01, 2018 11:45 AM
Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke

A very energetic and informative article. I really like your article and added to bookmark website list and will be checking back in future
Yeh Rishtey Hain Pyaar Ke
Full Episode

Aug 17, 2019 09:16 AM
East Coast Home Team
East Coast Home Team - Towson, MD
Real Estate Investment group in Baltimore, MD

 Just found this post through Google, thanks Chris. We use to have control over all our sites but since change the We Buy Houses in Maryland, site over to carrot it's less stressful. They handle blog posts and optimizing the site for mobile devices, which can be a pain. 

Jan 06, 2020 07:29 PM
Paul Haughton

I've found it best to outsource our company's website ( to a reputable company. It just makes the task of maintaining it so much easier.

Jan 14, 2020 10:59 PM
Nick Bond
Renovation 320 - Orlando, FL
We Buy Houses in Orlando

It is so important to have control of these websites. For ours we buy houses in all of Central Florida, mostly Daytona Beach Cash Home Buyers  and other cities in Volusia County. If we did not have full control of our website it would really hurt our lead gen.

Jul 31, 2020 08:50 AM
Jack Pinard
Summit Buys Houses - Tyngsborough, MA

Now more than ever, a company's online presence has become the "do-or-die" connection to the world. So it is of the utmost importance that you carefully safeguard the image the world sees. This means it's essential to maintain control over all of the content that the public can see and strategically optimize for SEO on a regular basis. 

We have a cash home buyer site that depends on local traffic and would never allow anyone who isn't completely plugged in to our company's strategies and mindset to have control. 


Feb 22, 2021 02:27 PM