Real Estate Website Development: Must-Have Features, Costs & Timeframes
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If you are going into your own real estate website development or you have an existing one, you’re probably already aware that having a first-rate website is of the utmost importance for business. According to the National Association of Realtors’ report of 2022, among all generations of home buyers, the first step taken in the home search process was to look online for properties. Thus it’s critical to ensure that your real estate website meets user expectations, is highly performed and stays competitive. Then it will be profitable for your business.
With the purpose to help you build the realty website that makes money for your business, we have gathered the latest most working real estate website features and UX tips. We offer you a glimpse into real estate software development through the lens of more than 8 years of our experience in development of successful real estate solutions such as Rently, RadPad, and Real Estate Association. So pay close attention as we explain the most critical points of a real estate website development.
Why Does Your Real Estate Business Need a Custom-Built Website?
If you are setting up your real estate business website, you might be tempted to take a less expensive route and use a template that hasn’t been customized. However, this would be a crucial mistake.
A simple website builder is not going to be able to provide the level of customization and personalization to which your potential clients are going to respond.
Your real estate website requirements should include a color scheme that is going to be immediately identifiable and fit your brand colors. You’re also going to want the correct font for all of the information that you feature on your site. You’ll want to use original, professional-quality photos to make the website user-friendly for the target audience.
You can see what we mean when you visit the most popular worldwide real estate websites, like Trulia, Zillow, Realtor, RightMove, and Zoopla. All of these platforms are user-friendly, sustainable, highly-functioning as well as highly personalized for brand recognition. Also, don’t forget about the security – if you want your users to share their personal details and sensitive data, you’ll need to provide a highly secured solution, so that their data is always protected.
So, to achieve these tasks, the best choice is to develop your real estate website from scratch.
The Main Types of Real Estate Websites
Before getting into how to make a real estate website, it’s vital to identify who your target audience or customers are going to be. In other words, think about whether the majority of individuals who come to your site are going to be sellers, buyers, or agents. If you’re not sure of your answer, think about your business model. To whom are you trying to market your company?
Based on the answer to that question, you should be able to figure out what type your real estate website is going to be. There are several main kinds:
Real Estate Marketplaces
The real estate marketplaces have been steadily gaining popularity for the last couple of years. Such marketplaces fall under the multichannel e-commerce category, with its primary task is to enable smooth transactions and service exchange. It is an online platform that connects realtors, brokers, and property managers with their customers, providing them with easy-to-use real estate services.
Property Listing Websites
The main purpose of the property listing website is to acquaint the potential buyers and tenants with the property for sale or rent. Real estate websites bring convenience to buyers and exposure to sellers by presenting hundreds of property images, videos, and features before they ever need to schedule a live tour. Sellers who post their homes on these sites benefit for the same reason; hundreds or thousands of prospective buyers can view their home online without needing to walk through.
The other major purpose this type of real estate websites serve is as a marketing channel for the professional service providers that contribute to the transaction. Realtors, mortgage professionals, banks, and inspectors can advertise on the website to generate leads and find new clients.
Property Management Websites
There’s a lot involved in managing a property, whether it’s for rent or sale. There are tasks such as marketing a vacant property for rent, conducting background checks on tenants, providing virtual or on-site property tours, drawing up a lease, collecting the rent, and managing repairs. These tasks require a surprising amount of time and experience, however there are tools helping to eliminate the headache. And that is the main purpose of the property management websites.
Real Estate Aggregators
Real estate aggregator is a website that combines information from different resources processing a huge amount of data and displaying it on a single website. Users can search properties on the website according to their choice and preferences, saving time by filtering the needed information. Thus, the search for the property becomes easier and not so time consuming.
Tech Stack for Your Real Estate Website
Choosing the right tech stack for website development for real estate is critical because it can have a significant impact on your budget, product scalability, and development time.
It is strongly advised that you choose scalable technologies because you will most likely add new functionality down the road and would prefer to prevent scaling issues. You would also want to choose highly-experienced real estate website developers as well as reliable and ready technology that can manage high loads of data and users, as rental marketplaces necessitate massive databases and often have thousands of users online at the same time.
Some recommended technologies are:
Application Framework - Ruby on Rails
Automation Framework - RSpec, Capybara
Cloud Data Storage - Amazon S3
Data Management - Real, CoreData
Developmental Language (Android) - Java, Kotlin
Developmental Language (iOS) - Swift, Objective C
Hosting - Amazon Web Services
SQL Data Storage - PostgreSQL
Web Application Server - Puma
Web Server - Nginx
Read also: How to develop a property management software for landlords.
Current Trends in Building Real Estate Websites
The successful adoption of a specific technology in the real estate industry will be determined by its ability to provide value for its users. According to the 2021 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, there are certain features, more important to users than others. Photos, detailed information, floor plans, real estate agent contacts, and virtual tours are among them.
Databases and data warehouses are used to store the immense quantities of information that is gathered concerning consumer preferences.
According to McKinsey's research, real estate applications based on machine-learning models can predict changes in rent rate with 90% accuracy, while the changes in other property metrics can predict with 60%. That can pretty well help clients understand what property is a better choice for their investment, as in the case of commercial property and non-commercial.
AI and Machine Learning
AI and machine learning open new exciting opportunities for both parties of the real estate process by allowing them to generate the list of the properties they’re looking for by simply analyzing their previous interests and adding some significant details.
Also, real estate software customers expect to get the best service and experience from using the technologies. Contact channels must be available 24/7, the response time must be as fast as possible, and the error rate should be close to zero.
An automated service desk with the conversation AI can easily fulfill the requirements. This technological approach goes beyond common chatbots making it one of the main real estate innovations in 2022. According to Deloitte, 'these assistants would be built for purpose, have a rich set of capabilities, and be integrated into the end-to-end process landscape of the enterprise.'
Virtual and Augmented Reality (VR/AR)
Solutions that enable prospective buyers to take a virtual tour of properties while selecting are becoming more and more important to modern home buyers and tenants. It is among the main tech trends in real estate for 2022 as it eliminates the time and expense of visiting multiple properties, many of which can be removed from the buyer's list of potential purchases through virtual viewing.
Of course, most buyers will want to tour the property before making a final decision physically. Still, the time and money savings for the customer and real estate agent in determining the best fit can quickly add up. Moreover, today VR technologies allow having almost realistic virtual tours to houses where you can easily examine the property state, interior details, and furniture.
AR, on the other hand, make it even more handy to real estate agents and landlords to show the potential buyers or tenants all of the possibilities of the property, allowing them to see in real time how they can furnish the place or enabling them to show the floor plans just by making the photos of the property.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Smart homes, apartments, and devices are changing the way we live in many ways. Smart devices, in general, are powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and are becoming one of the main property management trends.
The IoT refers to the practice of embedding sensors and computing technology into various items with which we interact every day. The ultimate goal of this technology is to provide individuals with a more convenient and pleasurable life.
Let’s investigate in what way IoT technologies are changing our homes and transform them into smart homes. There are three main characteristics of a smart apartment:
- Smart amenities include devices such as smart lights and locks and integrated services like home cleaning and package delivery.
- Connectivity is designed into a smart apartment when it is built to enable devices, building systems, residents, and management to communicate. Items such as WiFi, smart sensors, and intelligent access controls are benefits afforded by enhanced connectivity.
- Community management by providing services that save residents time, money, and minor difficulties is the final component of a smart apartment. Built-in event calendars, resident assistance, and on-demand services are some of the features that help property managers and renters build a more vibrant community.
While new construction is prime territory for implementing smart apartments, older structures can be retrofitted to provide the same level of connectivity.
How to Build a Real Estate Website: 5 Basic Steps
Well, when you’ve chosen the technology stack for your real estate software, then you need to define your realty website development plan.
Preparation stage starts with figuring out what hosting you’re going to use, and the entire server setup. You want to be sure that you’re using a reliable host for your site, or else it might not always be accessible for your clients.
After choosing with the secure and safe hosting providing, let’s move ahead of the actual realty web development process stages:
1. Real Estate Website Design Prototyping & Development
If you choose to set up a website from scratch rather than using a template, for the first step you need to put your efforts into your real estate design development. As an example, if you look at a site like Zillow, you will see how highly customized and functional its UX is. That’s critically important in the business. Surely, you’ll want to handle this task to the best development team possible as the price of the mistake might be too high.
Read also: How to Build a Website like Zillow
After your highly-skilled development team successfully finishes this step, you can move to design development and website functionality implementation that combines front-end and back-end coding. The framework that is put in place will probably be due to the use of PHP, Laravel, or another of the better-known templates that are on the market.
2. 3rd Parties Integrations
Your real estate website should also be integrated with such platforms as IDX/MLS. This will allow you to manage your listings so that anyone will be able to easily see what properties you have on the market at any given time. You’ll also be able to optimize your property pages with the inclusion of area-specific keywords.
3. Content Management System Setup
Once the basic framework for your site is in place, you should concentrate on the content management aspect. Your real estate platform should feature not only your properties but also fresh content that will propel your site to the pinnacle of the search engine rankings and keep it there. Your blog will be a great way to do that.
4. CRM for Customer Service
Next should come to a CRM that is specifically tailored to meet all the demands of your site visitors. It might vary somewhat depending on your business model, but the point is that whoever comes to your site should have a clear picture of what their options are and how they can contact you. Depending on whether you are using a template, there may be built-in solutions for you or your design team can customize the site to your needs.
5. Testing and Debugging Your Site
The final step, while the real estate platform is still in beta, will be to do extensive testing and debugging before it goes live. You’ll need to test your website security to make sure that you are not an appealing target for hackers. You’ll also want to check your page loading speed, that ideally, should be no more than 3 seconds. If you're having trouble with that, your real estate website development team should optimize resources like CSS, JS, and whatever site images you are using.
Core Real Estate Website Features
There are many real estate website features on which you should be concentrating as your site goes live, so let’s briefly touch on some of those.
Real Estate Website Layout and Clear Navigation
There should be an appealing layout that visitors will find pleasing to the eye. They should also have no trouble navigating to whatever they want to view on the site.
Responsive Website and Cross-Browser Support
A non-responsive website is an ample reason for many potential customers to look elsewhere. Make sure that doesn’t happen. Your real estate site should also work on any browser with no problems.
Users Flows and Registration Process
Before your real estate website design development, you should define your users flow e.g. what types of users your website can serve like real estate agents, buyers, sellers. Next, take care of the easy registration process that provides enough protection for users' data.For example, in one of our clients’ projects Rently our design and developers team had created a pretty streamlined registration process with a few steps that easily guide users till the final stage. While it provides enough protection without suppressing the adoption due to its difficulty.
Social Media Integration
Your site should also be integrated with the various social media platforms that people enjoy, like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest. You can add the possibility for users to login with their social media accounts and share a house page on their social media with two clicks. Altogether it increases your company marketing efforts and helps to promote each separate property listing.
You should have an advanced search mode available on your site so that visitors can find something by easily applying different filters modes like locations, price, type of property. That all makes your website more usable while the house hunting process is not exhaustive but rather effective for visitors.
This is a must-have feature for boosting your real estate sales. As it makes it much easier for everyone who is actively house or apartment hunting then after searching get back to the favorites places and rent or buy it.
Compare Listing Feature and Listing Statistics
A compare listing feature is useful when a potential customer is trying to decide between properties that are appealing to them. Agents usually appreciate a listing statistics feature. It’s a way for them to see whether a neighborhood is hot or not.
Listing Detail Pages
It’s helpful for you to have a descriptive listing of detailed pages for each of the properties with its high-quality photos or video. You can even go deeper and add some additional features such as “What’s nearby” with details on what places are not far from this property.
Or in the case of a rental property listing page, adding some custom features like pet policies, parking spot or elevator availability improve the website functionality as well as user experience. Read about our recent case where we have developed a veterinary clinic management system development.
Look how it is implemented in one of our clients’ projects, RadPad. That way, each site visitor will be able to look at a property and see if it checks off all the boxes of features that they were seeking. So it cuts the time between listing publishing and renting as users find faster the exact property they’re hunting for.
Booking Feature & Calendar Synchronization
A calendar and booking feature will let users know when open houses are taking place. There are APIs for this purpose by Microsoft, Apple, and Google.
Google Maps Integration
Google Maps is a feature that many individuals like to use when they’re looking at property, rental or booking websites. That way, they’ll be able to get an impression of a neighborhood with which they might be unfamiliar. Look how Google Maps is built-in on Booking.com property listing.
As some site users might like to get email alerts regarding properties in which they have shown an interest. It would improve your website UX and even increase your sales in real estate, as UX and conversions are quite dependent on each other.
They help your users to determine a mortgage's monthly payments, number of payments per year, interest rate, etc. You can choose already ready solutions like this one below from Zillow or build your own one.
Live Chat and Messaging
A live chat feature will enable website visitors to get real-time answers to their questions from your support team. While messaging might be helping in communication with real estate agents or directly house owners. You can even integrate chat-bot into your messaging platform to automate customer support services and make them more effective.
Virtual Reality Tours
It is a 3D property visualization right on the website. Making a 3D photo of the property and implementing an embedded player lets the users have a virtual tour of your real estate before deciding to rent or buy it. It significantly increases the likelihood of the buying or renting of the property as buyers see what they are going to buy right from the website.
That’s proven by the numbers as most people when looking for a house visit on average between 5 and 7 homes before making a final decision. Building virtual Reality or 3D features into your website cuts down the numbers of these wasted visits to property that people are not interested in buying.
Reviews & Rating Section Features
This function is quite useful for rental property listing. Usually, users trust the website where you can leave reviews and house profiles with high ratings. While the agents or house owners start to care about their property rating and actually about the quality of services they provide.
Payment Gateways Integration
One more tip from our list is integrating the right payment gateway into your realty website. You can choose from PayPal, Braintree, or Stripe systems. But base your decision on the region your platform focuses on and determine the most used payment gateways in that area.
Depending on whether you are using a template, there may be built-in solutions for you or your design team can customize the site to your needs. Modern CRM systems go far beyond simple listings with contact information. Depending on your business model, you might want to consider expanding your real estate website with a CRM system that will support sales management, deliver actionable insights, integrate with social media and facilitate team communication.
Blogging is a good way to share info about your company in an interesting, yet simple manner. We live in the age of storytelling, so it’s a good idea to provide your customers with an open source of the newest real estate news and hottest info.
Since your clients will share sensitive information on your website, you have to put security on top of the list of your features. Data breaches might cause you clients, reputation and even legal actions with great financial losses. So if you want your clients to trust you, provide them with a highly secured real estate solution.
High loading speed
In the world of technology that is moving at the speed of light, you would definitely want your website to be loading as quickly as possible. Download interruptions or just a slow loading speed might cost you clients. Thus, high loading speed should undoubtedly be among the most prioritized features.
Read also: Real estate technology trends and How to develop a real estate mobile app.
How Much Does a Real Estate Website Cost?
The cost of a real estate website is going to depend on many different variables. It depends hugely on what is the purpose of your website and what features it needs for that as well as on real estate developer salary in your region.
If you are in Europe, you might be looking at $175,000 to $220,000 depending on whether your team is designing the whole thing from scratch. The price of real estate website creation in the U.S. or Australia can be as much as $250,000 to $350,000 and higher. Depending on the state you locate or qualifications and programming languages you’re looking for, the developer salary can differ impactfully.
If you’re looking for the best option regarding price and quality, you might want to consider Ukraine as your best option. Ukraine is famous for its highly experienced IT minds for the very reasonable prices. Typically, there are two types of cooperation models among Ukrainian development teams – outsourcing and outstaffing. The first one means you’ll delegate your development mostly to the team with consultations on your side, the second one implies that you’ll get the dedicated extension of your inhouse team. However, both offer you one of the best pools of highly qualified professionals with good knowledge of English that can work in any timezone.
Take a look at the main steps of the website building for real estate:
Discovery, evaluation, and UI/UX design phase
Time: 280 hours
Cost: $11 200
If you’re wondering how to start a real estate website – this should be your very first step. Our business analysts conduct market research, analyze customer expectations, and assess industry trends in the first phase. All this information serves as a basis for project budget calculation.
When creating the app’s UI and UX prototypes, our team assesses to what extent the technology stack, functions, and overall aesthetics meet the client's expectations.
Time: 640 hours
Cost: $25 600
Our experts create an early version of the entire product based on the selected technology stack.
Testing and launching
Time: 240 hours
Cost: $9 600
The testing and launching stage is crucial to build a real estate website. It is essential to collect user feedback about the product to improve the application's functionality, make it more user-friendly, and exclude bugs.
After all testing and bugs are fixed, your real estate application is ready to go. Remember that any service needs support even after release to compete on the market successfully.
Writing technical documentation
Time: 40 hours
Cost: $1 600
It is the last step when you make a real estate website. It includes creating all the documentation for the application, particularly the product manual.
Let's summarize all of these in the table below.
Estimation, Research & UI/UX design
Creating technical documentation
1 200 hours (4 month)
However, that’s just the cost of the simplest real estate website development. The price may change greatly if you decide to add more features and to make the design, highlighting the uniqueness of your brand. If you want more precise calculations for your real estate website development, drop us a line and our specialists will come back to you with detailed plans and figures.
While the job of setting up a real estate website may seem daunting at first, following our advice and this guide tips you can get really successful results. Instead, if you prefer to delegate work to professionals, our team has extensive experience in real estate development. Having worked with such entities as French Real Estate Association, RadPad, Rently and other real estate platforms we know what real estate design and web development approach works best and bring your sales.
So, don’t cut corners when it comes to real estate website creation. You may save money, but you surely won’t get the engagement numbers for which you were hoping.
Softermii Experience in Real Estate Platform Development
Softermii has been developing real estate software for over six years, including commercial property management. Our committed team of experts understands the dynamics and difficulties associated with these products, which allows us to provide a wide range of developmental services.
RadPad, our most popular rental real estate software, has gained widespread acclaim and has been called one of the Top 10 Best New Apps for the past two years in a row. It has a strong backend that supports a large property database, advanced search and filter, an interactive map, and real-time chat. We were able to build a rental search platform like RadPad and turn it into the powerful end-to-end application that it is today by doing a thorough user experience analysis and usability testing.
Read Also: Back End Developer Salary in 2023
Another one of our successful cases is the French Real Estate Association – a web and mobile app used by realtors that can provide real-time information about the properties available for purchase or rental. For the French Real Estate Association, we developed a solution that allows interaction between agents and clients. It helps to improve customer satisfaction and increase the number of successful transactions. We introduced the following features to the product:
- real-time visibility of the market section with the option to geolocate and filter searches to identify properties that meet customer requirements
- detailed descriptions of property added to the platform
- real-time comparison tool
- collaborations between agents and agencies
- custom zones option
Currently, over 3,900 agencies are using the software. Also, the solution achieved MobileWebAwards Best Real Estate Mobile Application for the 2020 award.
Rently is a digital platform that brings IoT into Real Estate and makes it integral to the property demonstration process. Rently reached us with the request to resign the product.
Analyzing the solution, we've determined some of the biggest pains to fix. Complicated registration forms and poor UX maps were among them. Our team worked on the major issues intruding the best practices, market research, and our own experience in real estate apps development. To redesign Rently, we came with the following solutions:
- building the initial wireframes
- creating new user flows
- redesigning the visual layout
Currently, Rently is widely adopted by the real estate industry. It covers all major US cities and continues to grow demographic scope.
The real estate market is a major component of the world's economy, with a global value of over $7 196 billion. As the demand for different kinds of properties increases, so does the popularity and income of real estate websites. Millions of tenants, landlords, real estate agents, homebuyers and property managers have flocked to the real estate websites as these solutions have made the choosing of the real estate process faster and more convenient than ever before.
However, building a real estate website s is not as easy as it seems.
You must decide which business model to use in order to maximize monetization while also incorporating key features that improve user experience and retention. An extensive database, real-time messaging, booking management, virtual tours, and a rating system are among the core features, and once determined, the question of how to build a real estate website should not be that hard. Especially if you have the right partner.
Softermii will collaborate with you on every stage of your real estate website development. We will ensure that you are prepared to join and remain in the market with a competitive solution. Contact us today and one of our experts will be happy to expand on the real estate website development process and the cost to build such a solution.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to define the core features for the real estate platform?
First of all, when deciding to create a real estate website, you should have a well-thought business model. It’ll help you make up the model of the needed real estate solution. If it’s hard for you to come up with one, make sure you’ll find a team of professionals to help you with the discovery phase as well as MVP creation to have a thorough market and customer analysis.
What to look for when choosing real estate website developers?
Experience, collaboration, and trust lead to reliability. At Softermii, we strive to provide a range of options to fit every real estate need. Our experienced team of over 100 specialists. Our developers, project managers, and QA specialists work with you in a way that builds trust. Choosing a reliable real estate software development company means choosing a company that collaborates with you and tailors software to your needs. Softermii works with clients as partners to ensure we deliver the most advanced and secure software that incorporates all your needs, such as IoT, artificial intelligence, conferencing engines, and AR/VR. By partnering with us, we can develop real estate software that fits seamlessly with your business principles and enhances your market reach, empowering you to stay connected in a digital age.
How to reduce costs when building a real estate website?
Consider developing your real estate website in offshore countries. Finding a highly-experienced development team outside US or western Europe may greatly reduce the cost of development without losing quality. Also, a highly experienced team will omit the mistakes that might cost a lot as well as eliminate unneeded steps in the development process.
Is it possible to create a real estate website for less than $75,000?
If you decide to create a real estate website in Ukraine, it is possible to create a highly functioning and sustainable MVP of the real estate website ready to be launched on the market for less than $75 000. However, you should carefully consider the type of the website you need according to your business model as well as the needed number of features.
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