Estate Agents are Moving Online
Recent research by the Estate Agency Academy has found that estate agency has moved online. Maybe this goes some way to explain the influx of articles in magazines for estate agents (for examples see Estate Agency News, May 2008 and June 2008 editions and eafocus, May 2008 edition) discussing how their website is a crucial tool, more than paper marketing, in attracting customers to their agency over their competition, as the internet is fast becoming the first port of call when looking for new property.
So what are the key points to remember when developing a value adding Estate Agent website?
· The home page is your shop window. It should express your company’s values and personality and sell your brand.
· Be consistent throughout the site using your branding and your company’s key messages.
· Have a property search tool prominently placed on the home page so customers can find a property quickly and with as few clicks as possible.
· Show search results on a map.
· Provide a choice of how the property can be viewed. For example, photos, brief summaries of property details, full detail listings or aerial imagery of the property and the locality.
· Aim to inform the customer. Be honest and do not try to hide defects.
· Provide a choice of how the customer can request further information. For example, contact the agency directly by telephone or email, request property detailed be emailed to the customer, download the particulars direct from the website, request a call back from the agency or have notifications of new properties added to site emailed directly to the customers inbox.
· Ensure the website works in all browsers and with all connection speeds.
· Consider how to drive traffic to your website. For example, pay per click, increase natural Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or register your properties on property portals.
The main aim is to stand out against the competition. At Earthware, we have been approached by a number of clients who wanted to know how we could help them with their property mapping and therefore, go some way to differentiating their website from all the rest. After seeing how our interactive mapping solution for Estate Agents works, they became convinced of the value the maps could having in achieving some of the key points the magazines have been talking about. In fact, Georges Verdis, of London estate agency London Executive who have implemented the mapping in their website, has commented on the difference it has made: “We have won instructions directly as a result, our site traffic has increased by 50%, our homepage Google Rank has gone from 2 to 4 and our map page has a Google rank of 5.” What the magazines are saying is true: a top quality website really can make a massive difference to your business and we believe that mapping is core to this.