Real estate agents today face an ever changing playing field when it comes to getting their name out in-front of buyers. In-fact in just the last two years the landscape changed dramatically as more and more agents realized the importance of a website that has all of the robust features of IDX as well as features of a full Content Management System" (CMS).
And if you are successful at getting your name out to the buyers online, it is inherently more important that such people return to continue their search, save properties, compare, and subscribe to your daily updates.
With statistics showing that over 80% of home buyers start their search online it is imperative that agents offer engaging, factual and informative content that the buyer is looking for, but also to go beyond the public stats. Market analysis, local schools, area shopping, trends, etc., etc. are the norm on most real estate sites and show you are up-to-speed in gathering and copying information. I am referring to that extra "blast" that you can do to separate you personally out from competitors and establish yourself as an expert in your area.
A CMS allows you to keep your name out in front of potential clients by providing valuable information. Has there been news about a new condominium development in your area? A new state or federal program? Write about it or comment on it on your website with a reference link to the main article. It does not necessarily have to be local. Your keeping up-to-speed with both local and national real estate markets. Your commenting and relating this news to your local market. (An entire book can be written on the benefits of writing articles, posting on blogs, and SEO. I will be getting more in-depth on these subjects in future articles.)
In order to create and easily manage a real estate CMS website you should at take a look at Wordpress. WordPress started out as a blogging system and has since became a powerful publishing platform. In fact, many newspapers and magazines have turned to WordPress for their online news portals and it is my choice for every website I build. It is simple to learn, has a fantastic community of developers, an array of plug-ins to accomplish nearly any task, and is completely customizable. Also, it's free!
Once you realize the benefits of a WordPress powered website, you will need to look at integrating IDX into your site. There are many third party companies that provide integration services or you can contact your local Board of Realtors and find out what programs they offer. Most services provided by your local board will require some scripting experience.
Steps to take:
1) Decide on whether you want a CMS and if so, a customized theme (website) or a generic theme from the WordPress vault. There are 100's of themes available. Some are free some are for a fee. Most of these themes will need customization to offer the greatest results for a real estate agent.
2) Find out from your local Real Estate Board what type of MLS they offer. If it is not robust enough or requires programmer to set-up, consider a third party IDX set-up.
3) Maybe this should be first - talk with a WordPress consultant for ideas and to get a better understanding of what WordPress can offer you.
For more information on WordPress you can visit WordPress.org.