Learn The Features Driving Our 24 Most Successful Real Estate Websites

Successful real estate websites must meet consumers’ expectations and help drive your business.

In this article, we’ll walk through the features that our 24 most successful customers are using to grow their businesses in 2020.

Successful real estate website features covered in this guide

What your real estate website must do

Great first impressions and a modern home search are a must to generate leads and grow your business.

The best real estate websites strike a perfect balance in function and form, making consumers feel like they’ve come to the right place. The best sites do more than simply work on mobile, they shine!

home search mobile versus desktop

You must first decide what success looks like for you and prioritize the goals you’d like your website to accomplish are. How important is building a strong hyperlocal brand compared to generating new leads or helping to close existing leads into completed transactions? Our feature list below will help guide you in iterating on your current website or building a new one.

mobile home search and IDX

Many agents build simple “business card” style websites or use an outdated IDX (e.g. using iFrames, subdomains, limited data, etc) and are left wondering why their past clients and new leads still go to Zillow or Trulia, where the clients’ contact info and budget are given to competing agents.

95% of home buyers visit real estate agents’ websites during their home search. — The National Association of REALTORS®, 2018 Report

Your site serves as the hub for any successful real estate marketing strategy today. It’s the digital face of your business that potential clients use to vet you against other agents and decide if they want to work with you. Your site can also protect your clients’ personal info and guide them through finding the right home or selling their current one.

How to analyze real estate websites

Our unique place in the market allows us to examine tens of thousands of real estate websites, those powered by Showcase IDX, those with older IDX options, and even all-in-one solutions. As a marketing coach, I’m constantly looking at what other top marketers are doing to see how to apply the most effective practices.

Here are 3 ways I analyzed real estate websites (2 of them you can do)

1) BuiltWith:

This year alone, my team has analyzed over 100,000 real estate websites. Tools like BuiltWith let you see the public-facing technologies and marketing solutions used on a website. Want to know if a site has the Facebook marketing pixel installed, how about if it’s built on WordPress (almost all top sites are), or if uses Hubspot to track visits for email automation? All of that is easily available by simply entering the URL of a website.

If you have deeper technology expertise, there are other services with APIs that can provide you similar data at scale, but what I love about BuiltWith is that it allows non-technical people to easily get an idea about what is being used on an individual website.

2) View Source:

With a little more technical knowledge, you can inspect the source code for a website to learn even more things, such as what WordPress theme is being used, some of the plugins on the website (most plugins though are private and cannot be identified without admin access to the site), 3rd party software used, etc.

How to view source code for an individual website?

Using Chrome on a Mac, simply visit the website you would like to inspect, click View > Developer > View Source. Alternatively, right-click the page and look at the menu that appears. From that menu, click View page source.

analyze real estate website

3) Our Internal Data:

We partner with marketing agencies and web developers that build a single site per year to those that support tens of thousands of websites. For this guide, I looked at what IDX and home search settings our most successful clients are using.

We take our clients’ data and privacy extremely seriously and would NEVER expose the specific settings for individual clients, or even small groups of them. So, if you’re looking for what a specific site uses for their settings, I won’t be sharing that with you. If you’d like some insights into what I see from the most successful real estate websites, keep reading.

The results of examining our top 24 most successful customers confirmed many of my strategies, and a few of the results surprised me. This guide will give you some insights into things to try for your own website.

But first, let’s agree on what “successful” means.

What qualifies as a successful Realtor or broker website?

Some marketing agencies will try to tell you that any website that highlights your personal brand well is successful, but they’re missing the point of modern real estate marketing.

Whether you work primarily from referrals and past clients or if you’re primarily focused on new leads, your website must keep your clients on your site and not have them longing for the experience on Zillow or Trulia. We call it “leakage” if a qualified client leaves your site and goes to a large portal because they “leak” out of your sales funnel.

We’ve seen some outdated IDX solutions have leakage of 40% to as high as 90%. Imagine having 90% of strong referrals or leads you spent $25 CPA to acquire visit your landing page and then going to a portal that will share their info with competing agents.

Every website will have a “bounce rate” (the percentage of people that visit and leave. That rate will depend on the source of the traffic, but for a high-traffic site, a good bounce rate may be as high as 80%. We see much lower bounce rates in our top 24 websites.

Here are 3 ways of tracking success from your website:

1. Your website needs to quickly give your clients a modern home search experience and must highlight your hyperlocal expertise.

Websites built by our trusted partners and powered by Showcase IDX do both of these. With a site from one of these partners (click here to become a partner), you are able to give your clients a modern home search experience. And with our Friends and Family search, they can more easily coordinate with their family without having to use text/email or share logins. This helps to reinforce your value as a hyperlocal expert that can be trusted to keep their (and their families’) information confidential.

2. Your website must let you capture leads.

When a new visitor comes to your site, does your site use tools that incentivize people to enter their contact info?

In our top 24 websites, there are conversion rates from 0.02% – 5.56% (visitors that become leads), and I’ve seen rates from some clients that are significantly greater. However, we must remember that there is a balance to be considered here about what “best” looks like depending on your business and marketing strategy. There may be times when you’re more focused on building your personal brand and views/visitors matter more than sign-ups, and there are other times where you may be optimizing your marketing for something else like “total closings in a quarter”.

In the next section of this guide, I’ll show you what some of the IDX settings are that drive that leads to sign-up below. Keep reading.

3. Lastly, a successful real estate website must drive organic traffic from search engines over the long-term.

Unless you’re willing to simply buy leads for years to come, you want to create a lead generation machine, and start generating traffic from Google, Bing, Pinterest, and others to scale your business.

In our top 24 websites, the sites drive between 4,300 sessions per month to 30,000 sessions per month, with a substantial portion from organic and direct/referral traffic. If I sort by organic traffic only, 16 of the sites remain in the top 24.

For clients that I consult with on their real estate sites and coach to help grow their business, I’ve learned that “success” is relative and that the key to growth is acknowledging where each site is and taking the wise steps needed to achieve the next level in business growth. Don’t get distracted by someone else’s success. Most agents are not adequately investing in either their marketing or their websites. There is a huge opportunity for everyone at every stage.

Only 16.5% of real estate agents had success with purchased leads. (OutboundEngine Real Estate Marketing Benchmarks Report)

Building organic traffic and good SEO is like compound interest, it takes a steady investment over time and the results get better and better. Many of these sites are also driving traffic because the agents 1) proactively setup custom search subscriptions for each client 2) show their clients how to use Friends and Family and 3) add regular local content each month.

What I’ve seen in my wider research this year is that it is almost impossible to rank a website well if an IDX uses iFrames or subdomains. The good news is that we hate iFrames and subdomains almost as much as Google does, so you won’t find them at Showcase IDX.

Remember though, generating organic leads takes work. Just like in the physical world, it takes work to knock on doors, attend local events, volunteer, make cold calls, etc. Ranking on Google takes works too. The good news is that this guide shows some incredible success stories and shows you what settings to use on your IDX.

Nine of the most successful agents in our top 24 websites are single agents. In order to have a successful website, you don’t have to be on a large team or be a broker.

I loved finding this in our data because it shows what I’ve been saying.

Anyone can be successful, and it does not take spending thousands of dollars per month. Now, while I am a strong believer in investing in marketing to grow ANY business, many of these most successful sites were built by individual agents that simply carved out time each week/month to do the work to rank their sites.

In the long-term, organic traffic (what you get from Google/Bing/etc) is much cheaper than spending money on ads (paid media). Plus, what happens when you stop spending on ads? The traffic stops. The value of SEO (search engine optimization) is much closer to compound interest, where it only gets better over time.

How did we determine the 24 most successful sites?

The section above talked through the three ways we believe you should evaluate if your site is successful.

Assuming you have a website that uses Showcase IDX to stop the “leakage” of clients going to Zillow, there are times when driving traffic alone will be your main driver of success, and there are times when leads are the most important.

We sorted all of our customers by most traffic generated and then also by most leads generated over the same time period. The lists were very similar and the top three sites remained the top three by both methods. We opted to sort by total traffic for this guide, as generating new traffic and retaining that traffic (returning visitors) are frequently my suggestion to focus on first, before moving to optimize for conversion to leads.

This method does weigh the list to real estate websites in larger cities and MLSs. As an example, Atlanta has 45,000+ active listings and nearly as many agents, while a smaller city like may have 1,000+ listings with 1,400+ members. With more consumers, there will be more traffic. However, we did see several sites in smaller cities/regions make the list, and the features and settings in this guide apply for every market.

In the rest of this guide, we’ll walk through the features that helped to drive traffic and the settings we see sites with both 1) a higher lead conversion rate and 2) total number of leads generated within those top 24 sites. This will help you save time as you optimize for initial traffic and then for conversions if you have a steady stream of traffic.

The features and settings of the most successful real estate websites according to the data

Let’s get into the fun and dig into the data. Some of these features and settings are contained within Showcase IDX and some are not.

Read through the list and you’ll see what website features and settings other agents are using to grow their business and what you may want to test on your website.

Number of real estate websites

The vast majority of successful real estate agents only have 1 website. 19 out of our 24 most successful real estate websites are the ONLY site for that agent/broker/team. Of the other five, four had two sites, one had three websites, and none of those additional sites were in our most successful sites list.

This one didn’t surprise me. Years ago, SEOs (those that practice search engine optimization) would recommend you have multiple micro-sites that would all feed into a single site. Some marketing agencies will still try to tell agents they need dozens of sites, but if you hear that you should run, and our data confirms what Google says.

As far back as 2010, when microsites and blog networks started to become a more popular SEO tactic, Google posted on the Google Webmaster Blog that site owners wanting to create multiple sites should ensure each site had unique, quality content.

While you’re free to run as many sites as you want, keep in mind that users prefer to see unique and compelling content. It is a good idea to give each site its own content, personality and function. This is true of any website, regardless of whether it’s a single-page hobby-site or part of a large portfolio.

We suggest not spreading out your efforts too broadly, though. It can be difficult to maintain multiple sites while keeping the content fresh and engaging. It’s better to have one or a few good sites than a multitude of shallow, low value-add sites.

More recently, Google’s John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst – basically their public-facing expert on what it takes to rank well), discussed how Google views the idea of microsites versus the one standalone site method.

The question in the hangout was about content silos, which Mueller interpreted as being about the practice of creating many microsites instead of a larger more comprehensive one for SEO purposes.

John’s response:

I’m not particularly sure what you mean with content silos. I assume this is something like creating niche sites or something general… generally like that where you create small websites that are focused on one specific topic.

From my point of view, that’s usually something we recommend against, just because it’s a lot easier for you to maintain things on one website, where things are kind of interconnected on one website. And it’s a lot easier for you to kind of build up that almost like brand awareness, I guess, with regards to your one website, compared to having like, all of these other different individual websites that are kind of connected to your main website but not really on your main website.

So for the most part, I’d recommend trying to focus on like a smaller number of websites and keeping everything together and kind of tying everything together in a reasonable way so that when users find your content, they can easily kind of move along that path to actually converting into whatever you want them to do, if you want them to buy something or sign up for something. Kind of make that as easy as possible so that when they go back to your content, they know what to find and what to do.

Focus your efforts on a single website. There are lots of ways to create individual landing pages, interest categories, and segment useful content within a single site. In the end, you’ll find it much more useful for the growth of your business to rank a single site than to rank even one site if you have multiple ones.

Hotsheets and Community Pages

This is probably the most important feature of building a successful real estate website.

What is a hotsheet? Hotsheets and community pages are individual pages on your site that focus on a single type of home, an individual condo building, homes within walking of a particular school, or any other refined interest that your clients may have.

Before digging into the actual data, I would have told you that “more” was better, but as I’m continuing to see with Google Analytics (since their E-A-T update on expertise, authority, and trustworthiness), Google cares more about quality than quantity.

Of our top 24 websites:

  • Four had 11 or less hotsheets, and one in the top 5 had only two.
  • Three had between 12 and 99 hotsheets
  • Eleven had between 100 and 499 community pages
  • Two had 500 to 999 pages, and
  • Only four had more than 1,000 pages.

Outside of our top 24 most successful customers, we’ve seen many customers do well by building hundreds and thousands of hotsheets on their sites. This is achievable by carving out a few hours every week to invest in writing content and adding a few new hotsheets.

Research shows that websites with fresh content earn 88% more leads per month than static content. Hotsheets and community pages give your website a stream of fresh content that if done correctly will meet what a potential buyer/seller is searching for on Google, and Google is increasingly looking for content that meets “searcher’s intent”..

To rank well on Google, especially after Google’s more recent updates, I suggest building high-quality community pages and hotsheets that support the niche you’re focused on. Focus on providing quality content, written and/or video, on these pages.

Adding saved searches from Showcase IDX to the pages will ensure that Google sees regularly updated pre-rendered content on these pages and provide your visitors with home listing results they desire.

To support your advertising or outbound email/call marketing, create a hotsheet tailored for the individual persona you are targeting with each advertisement or reach out. The more your advertising message aligns with the landing page you’re sending them to, the higher your conversion rate will be because the visitors will find more value.

Showcase Plan: Premium or Essentials

Do you expect me to say you have to buy Premium to be successful?

You do NOT have to use the Premium version of our product to be successful.

While we see an incredible amount of success from the agents and brokers that use Premium as a whole, only ½ of the websites in our top 24 most successful use the Premium version of our product.

With that said, our top five most successful sites all use Showcase IDX Premium on their sites. The key is “how” they use it, and how they use it with the registration locks we’ll talk about later.

Success with zero registration locks

Within Showcase IDX, you can restrict certain information from visitors that they only see after registering or signing in. We call this feature a registration lock. Here’s one example:

IDX home search lead generation
Prompt for access to open houses and local data

Even if you’re focused on brand building at this stage of growing your business in a specific real estate niche, you still need to capture visitors’ info at some point. So, when should you prompt visitors to enter their name and contact info?

We see agents, teams, and brokers driving thousands of visitors and home search users every month regardless of if they’re using a registration lock.

Nine of the sites in our top 24 most successful sites use zero registration locks (neither hard locks or soft prompts).

They’re generating dozens of leads from other lead capture tools within Showcase IDX such as “asking a question about a property”, “schedule a tour”, inviting family or friends to collaborate on their search, etc.

Home search collaboration with friends and family

Tip: Show your clients how they can use the Friends & Family tools to collaborate without using text/email to share properties and comments. This can lead to 1 – 5 additional potential leads from the single contact you may have in your CRM. It’s also a great way for clients to get a feel for their next home before they’re ready to actively start looking.

Prompting for registration on listing views and search results

After you’ve built up a strong flow of organic traffic or if you’re driving traffic from advertising, you’ll capture more leads by turning on some registration locks.

15 of our 24 most successful sites are using some form of registration locks.

All Showcase IDX plans include the ability to lock the maximum number of listing detail pages a visitor can view until they are prompted to register or sign in. This can be a soft prompt that the visitor can skip or a hard lock where the potential client cannot see any other listing detail pages until they register or sign in.

IDX lead generation - home search registration

7 of the top 24 sites uses a soft registration prompt when a visitor has seen a certain number of listings, and we see success with the prompt displaying every 5 to 25 listings. For the 15 that use some form of registration lock, 7 out of those 15 sites use soft registration prompts.

5 of the top 24 sites use a hard registration lock, and we see success with the prompt showing on the first property being displayed and up to after the 10th listing.

Premium users have the added feature of being able to set the maximum number of search results a lead can see before they have to register. This allows the user to see multiple potential pages of search results before having to register on your site.

6 of the top 24 sites use the Search Results Lock, with it triggering between 2 pages and 5 pages. For the 15 that use some form of registration lock, 6 out of 15 sites use this Search Results Lock.

Requiring registration to see premium listing data

This may be one of the most important IDX and home search features if you’re goal is to generate leads.

IDX premium content feature

Premium listing data is additional, unique, and highly valuable data beyond what is provided from your MLS. It includes information such as:

  • Walk score for the neighborhood
  • Transit scores for the community
  • Bike scores showing the biking infrastructure
  • Links to nearby restaurants, grocery stores, and more
  • Population insights: total population, median age, population density, etc.
  • Community demographics, including:
    • Gender
    • Age group
    • Education levels
    • Average household size
    • Median household income
    • Average individual income
    • Cost of living compared to national average
    • Marital statuses
    • Blue Collar vs White Collar Workers
    • Type of Commute for those working.
    • Average commute times

50% of the most successful sites that are on Premium require a visitor to register before seeing Premium Listing Data.

Tip: Consumers love this data, and it can be a strong reason to register on your site. We’ve seen people see a drastic increase in their lead conversion by simply turning on the Premium Listing Content lock. In other places on their site, they explicitly shows the type of additional content you get when you register.

Visitors for different real estate niches and parts of the country are unique, so make sure to test how the lock works on your site. Turn it on for a few weeks, then off for the same amount of time, then compare the results in Google Analytics. The key here is to understand your local target niche(s). If you do not test registration locks, you risk valuable data that could tell you that you’re losing visitors because a lock was put at the wrong time or for the wrong data.

Combining hard and soft locks

There are no clear winners for whether no registration locks, soft registration prompts, or hard registration locks drive more success.

For Premium users, the hard lock on Premium Content do appear to outperform from a pure lead generation perspective, once a website/agent has a strong hyperlocal brand established in their community.

Tip: Setting up a new website today or updating an existing site with little to moderate content? I would suggest starting with no locks or soft registration prompts until you have regular traffic, if your on Essentials. If you’re a Premium customer, start with the Premium Content lock. Focus on adding local content and refining the niche that you work with.

Niches lead to riches. Your efforts will best be spent invested in refining your message to your niche. You’ll know when you “get it” when your referral clients and new sign-ups repeat back your specific niche to you as to why they selected you.

After you’ve found success from a traffic and conversation perspective in your niche, begin to test hard locks and monitor your analytics to see how your visitors respond.

Streamlined versus advanced search types

Showcase IDX offers two different search types:

  • Streamlined search is ideal for searching multiple MLSs and mobile
  • Advanced search provides detailed advanced search features
Property search from home on real estate agent website - Showcase IDX

Of our 24 most successful real estate websites powered by Showcase IDX, 8 use our Streamlined Home Search and 16 use the Advanced Home Search.

However, the data within these sites and across our wider customer base does not show a clear winner.

The Streamlined and Advanced Home Search options are split almost equal when I examine the data based on 1) most traffic 2) most number of leads and 3) highest conversion of visitors to leads. The conclusion is that both perform well with consumers.

Tip: The choice of which search type should be a discussion between you and website developer. Ultimately, you want to make the choice based on the experience you’re trying to tailor for your clients.

Map style for home search

Choosing different map styles can be a great way to customize the look and feel of your real estate websites. It’s also one of the most underutilized features we see used.

Showcase IDX offers nine different map styles for Premium users. These home search map styles change the colors and fonts of all maps displayed on your website (e.g. regional maps, listing page, hotsheets, open houses, etc.)

IDX customization map styles

Only 4 of the 12 sites with access to this feature have chosen a map style different than the default.

However, 2 of the 3 most successful sites in terms of the total number of leads generated are using a Premium map style.

Tip: Test the feel of your site using “Light Grey”, “ Light and Bright”, “High End”, or “Outdoors”. If you want a stark contrast to other sites, we’ve seen success with “Elegant” as a style.

No budget or shared hosting

One consistent feature of all 24 of the most successful real estate websites from our customers is that none of them use a budget or shared host.

We understand the need to stay within budget. You have to get a good return on investment (ROI) on your marketing, and while a website with a great home search is required for any successful real estate marketing strategy, many agents cannot spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month on hosting their websites.

Use Google Analytics to know what browsers your clients are using

The great news is that you do not have to spend that much on hosting. Simply stay away from the super-cheap $5 – $10 per month shared hosts.

Some of the hosting options we see used by these top 24 sites include:

  • Digital Ocean
  • Google
  • AgentFire (as part of their website offerings)
  • WpEngine

Tip: Want to know where a website is hosted? Enter the URL of a website into a tool like Who Is Hosting This? or Hosting Checker.

$30 – $200 themes

This is huge for any agent building their own website or any marketing agency wanting to scale their company serving Realtors and brokers.

17 of the top 24 most successful real estate website use themes they licensed for $30 – $200 one-time.

By using the View Source tip I shared earlier, you can see the code for any website. Search for “theme” and in most cases, you’ll be able to identify the theme used on the website. Look for a section like /wp-content/themes/THEMENAME/ Here’s an example from inspecting the code on my personal site:

You can then search google for the name for that theme using a search such as “THEMENAME wordpress theme” to learn more about the theme.

Tip: A few great themes to start with are Astra, Avada, and Enfold.

Conclusions to Real Estate Website Success

Okay, every smart marketer knows that an agent has to have their own real estate website, independent from your Broker’s site to be successful. Why? Besides the “leakage” issue we discussed earlier, according to NAR, agents change brokerages every 4 to 5 years on average.

The two most valuable assets to growing your real estate business over time are 1) your personal brand and 2) your contacts/relationships.

Having a great real estate website that your clients will actually use is the single most valuable piece of marketing technology (Martech) that you can invest in. It supports both your personal brand and puts you in control of the your clients’ information.

Our #1 job is to showcase you as the local expert and grow your real estate business. - Kurt Uhlir

Is it worth a few hundred dollars and a time investment to build your own site to enjoy these benefits? Of course, it is. This is your business!

The sooner you launch your site, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.

The tips in this guide will give you a jumpstart on building out your website or upgrading your current one.

Showcase IDX is the engine that powers the most effective real estate agent, team and brokerage websites.

Want to build your own site or already have a developer? Start your free trial of Showcase IDX today.

Need help getting started? Choose one of our approved partners to guide you through building a stunning website to grow your business this year.

The Future of Home Buying: As Easy as Google Maps Combined with Consumer Privacy

Years ago, we all kept paper maps in our cars, then came early (expensive) navigations systems, followed by sites like Mapquest where you could print out specific sets of routing directions. Garmin quickly came out with lower-cost personal navigation systems, and now, we all have Waze on our smartphones and can easily embed Google Maps or Mapbox on any website.

As discussed at the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) Fall 2019 conference, real estate has come a long way from the paper catalogs used years ago. Keep reading to see the behind the scenes at the industry conference, and learn how new tools are changing how to search for a home for both consumers and Realtors.

Large real estate portals selling consumer information

Zillow and Trulia earned more than $1,333,600,000 (yes, $1.3 billion) in revenues in 2018 with the majority of that revenue coming from selling consumer contact and budget information to real estate agents and other providers.

According to their 2018 annual report, their IMT segment is defined as “We generate revenue from the sale of advertising services and our suite of marketing software and technology solutions to businesses and professionals primarily associated with the residential real estate, rental and mortgage industries.”. Ask the average agent paying for their tools/advertising, and lead information is the primary value they see, and this accounted for $1.28 billion of their TOTAL $1.3 billion revenue. That’s how much your clients’ info is worth!

Consumers are quickly becoming aware of what happens on Zillow and other large real estate portals with their information. You would never go to a website and enter your contact info, along with the $500k value of your 401k, and let them know that you are planning to move investments in a few months, but that is equivalent of what happens when someone is looking for a $500k house. You’re telling an information broker that you’re planning to have a major financial transaction in several months.

Realtors are increasingly realizing that sending their clients to these large portals is causing them to lose clients because their clients’ info is being provided to “Premier Agents” of those sites, so they’re in essence referring clients to their competitors.

Smart real estate agents realize that consumer privacy is a competitive advantage and with a modern IDX engine and consumer tools, they can provide an even better home search experience on their own website.

Real estate data and tools following growth of maps and navigation applications

Remember paper maps in your car? I was at the front lines of the HERE Technologies (NAVTEQ) that provided the map and traffic data behind almost every map and navigation application in the United States and Europe and shaped the experience we all use almost every day today.

Here’s a quick 10 minutes of my talk from The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) Fall conference about the parallels real estate agents and consumers are seeing today with what happened with map/navigation apps 15 years ago.

If you want to geek out a little more on innovation in the mapping industry and see more of what’s coming in real estate, here are pages 6 and 7 from RESO’s recent case study “It’s Inevitable: Moving to Replication via the RESO Web API“.

Auto Manufacturers Move to APIs

This was the situation when car manufacturer Toyota released the first navigation system in 1987 on the Toyota Crown. “While Google Maps was first released using GPS in November 2007, many of us first experienced a change in the navigation experience that was only possible due to a change in spatial data being accessed via APIs. This was done by pioneers like MapQuest’s Find Me and later by Waze, the GPS navigation software app owned by Google. This change in how the data was accessed also created a fundamental shift in how companies collected spatial data.”

A major player in this transformation was Kurt Uhlir, currently Showcase IDX’s Chief Marketing Officer. Uhlir was part of the small team that realized that there was a more efficient way to collect, enhance, and verify the data and created the spatial data and navigation industry that grew NAVTEQ from $85 million in revenue to $1.2 billion. Companies previously spent hundreds of millions of dollars on field teams and remote data to create their core asset (spatial data with 250+ attributes per road segment and millimeter-level accuracy) around the world, according to Uhlir. When Google entered the arena, it spent an estimated $300 million in 18 months to collect only a portion of the road network in the United States and Canada.

Since then, the technology Uhlir and his team invented and patented has been used by companies like Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, and is quickly becoming the backbone for the data driving much of the autonomous vehicle industry.

“This seemingly small, behind-the-scenes change to accessing spatial data via APIs was the triggering change that led to the vast majority of motorists using Waze to get directions to our next open house, people playing games like Pokémon GO, and many of the athletic applications we use to track our progress today,” Uhlir explains.

Borrowing a Page From the Navigation Industry

Uhlir cited the example of the navigation industry moving from one data set to an API. “Most people have multiple mapping apps on their phones that provide full navigation,” Uhlir explains.

“While the spatial data industry saw mass consumer adoption of navigation thanks to Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom offering personal navigation devices, it really was a change in how the data was accessed, combined with the mass adoption of smartphones that made navigation a part of our everyday lives.”

“HERE (formerly called NAVTEQ) has been the dominant map provider in the United States, Europe, and much of the world for decades,” said Uhlir, adding that everything from printed Rand McNally maps to car navigation systems to personal navigation devices and even websites like MapQuest were powered by HERE data and a few smaller data providers.

These navigation systems and applications used static copies of a subset of the HERE map that was generally recreated by each brand into a proprietary data format,” said Uhlir. “These navigation system and applications used static copies of a subset of the HERE map that was generally recreated by each brand into a proprietary data format,” said Uhlir. “This changed when Traffic.com and INRIX began providing real-time traffic data; these mapping and navigation systems incorporated into the consumer experiences. But the bulk of all spatial data was not accessed in real-time – or even short time,” Uhlir joked.

How to ride the tsunami of innovation in real estate marketing technology

If you wanted maps on your website or in your SaaS application, would you ever think of building your own version of Google Maps or Mapbox? Absolutely not.

Mapbox has invested hundreds of millions in capital, after having raised $227 million and earned many more millions in revenue, to build their solution. Google Maps is known to have invested hundreds of millions building search, display, and routing applications to create the Google Maps API offering. Even if an agent had access to the map data, the cost to build an experience reasonably acceptable to consumers could not be done.

Yet, many people attempting to build “all-in-one” real estate marketing platforms have tried to do this with home search and consumer engagement tools.

The rumor within real estate technology circles is that Zillow spent $25 million to create the technology and systems to ingest all the data they use on their sites. Now, this includes more than simply MLS data, but that’s still a staggering amount to just acquire data, normalize it, and make it internally available to applications like a home search.

Smart marketers and real estate companies have realized that a modern IDX requires the focus of a Google Maps or Mapbox. Showcase IDX has been called an “IDX engine” and referred to as the “Intel Inside” of any modern real estate marketing solution for that reason.

In my keynote talks about Tsunami Innovation, I talk about riding the increasing waves of innovation. It’s almost impossible to stand against a tidal shift of a tsunami, yet when you harness the wave and learn to ride on top, the entire industry changes and people’s lives change.

Home search and consumer engagement tools in real estate are at a similar point to where we saw mapping and navigation technology a few years ago.

I’m excited to be at the front of this change and working with a team that not only loves deep data and technology but that wakes up each day excited to be changing the world.

The central hub to successful real estate marketing

It takes incredible agencies and partners to provide a cohesive marketing strategy that works and is tailored for different teams and individual agent brands.

No matter the marketing campaign, you ultimately have to drive a consumer to an online experience where they can search for a home, save searches, get alerts of new properties, interact with their friends and family, etc. – all without having their information sent to competitive agents and service providers.

“Powered by Showcase IDX” has become the central hub to successful real estate marketing campaigns. We know that focusing on building the modern IDX engine allows other vendors (e.g. CRM, social media management, etc) to focus on what they do best.

Have your own website? Start your trial of Showcase IDX today.

Need a website? See our list of approved website developers.

IDX WordPress Plugin: Transform Your Website Into a Real Estate Lead Generation Machine

Technology continues to redefine many industries, and the real estate world is no exception. While some real estate agents lament the advent of sites like Zillow and Trulia, one thing’s for sure.

Consumers like the convenience of these sites. Especially when it comes to browsing listings. 

Fortunately, you can provide the same convenience on your website through the Internet Data Exchange (IDX).

How? IDX software permits you to make part of the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) directly available to clients. This exciting development is changing the face of real estate lead generation.

Ready to learn more? Continue reading for a full breakdown of how to make it work for you.

The Multiple Listing Service and Your Real Estate Business

Although real estate can feel highly competitive at times, there are clear areas of cooperation and collaboration. These include the MLS, a system that allows agents and brokers to share information about property listings.

The MLS represents a compilation of data from a given region including the unique database about properties being sold by real estate brokers that are members of the each MLS. These databases can be owned by a variety of individuals or groups. There are multiple listing services across the world, from the United States to Canada, Australia to India, throughout Europe, and elsewhere.

They can also vary greatly in scope from citywide databases to national ones. These databases are only accessible to people who pay a subscription fee.

The MLS represents your go-to resource for property listings. There’s no better way to advertise a given property to a wide audience.

Of course, until very recently, the MLS could only be accessed by real estate agents. But, oh how times have changed!

IDX for Real Estate Lead Generation

Now, you can give your clients direct access to property listings and data in your MLS. Why would you want to make this information available to the public?

One of the most obvious reasons is linked directly to the concept of content marketing itself. When you provide your prospects and customers with value, they’ll return the favor by enlisting your services when they’re ready to buy.

Besides ramping up the amount of high-quality content on your website, a simple and easy-to-setup IDX WordPress plugin allows you to craft a bespoke listing of relevant properties curated from the MLS.

In other words, you can focus on a narrow geographic area, price range, or even home type such as customs, as well as highlight why you are a trusted local expert that specializes in the type of home your visitors are looking for. 

This is one area where Zillow and Trulia still can’t compete. 

The ability to create and archive these listings is also very good for your website’s SEO. Why? Because when the listings are seen as appearing on your website, it increases the number of times your pages appear in search engines. And, when you create hyper-local community and neighborhood pages, the lead generation from organic Google rankings have a strong chance of beating out the large portals and national brokerages. 

The Ideal Lead Generation Real Estate Resource

You’ll also appreciate the new sense of control and freedom that you have over your listings and the information that appears on your website. And you don’t have to be tech-savvy to utilize this great resource.

Every time your IDX solution lists a home on your website, a URL will be auto-generated for it as well as page titles and keywords. That way, you guarantee more visibility for your website without having to add extra steps to your routine.

And when it comes to metadata? You can easily update your descriptions using the WordPress real estate plugin for added SEO value. A modern IDX platform like Showcase IDX will automatically create this metadata for you, based on your unique personalization settings.

But what about compatibility? And other issues such as load time? Fortunately, a good IDX plugin doesn’t negatively impact either of these areas. 

So, you don’t have to compromise load times to start enjoying these features now.

When you combine a solid real estate theme through WordPress and the capabilities of IDX, you’ll have a website you can be proud of. And one that’ll do the legwork for you when it comes to securing new customers. 

Instead of spending hours cold calling people or sending out expensive mailers, you’ll have a lead generation process in place constantly working for you. What’s more, there are numerous widgets you can add to further enhance lead generation.

Competing in Today’s Real Estate Market

The transition to new technologies hasn’t always gone smoothly for the real estate industry. As you may already know, there has been a contentious relationship between many agents and sites such as Trulia and Zillow.

Some real estate professionals have scrambled to keep apace of these technological changes and wondered how to compete with these websites. The IDX WordPress plugin represents your ideal tool for making this happen.

Applying this technology will not only let you compete with major sites, but it will also give you a competitive edge when it comes to curated listings. After all, the last thing today’s customer has is time.

Shuffling through hundreds of potential property listings on Trulia and Zillow is simply inconvenient, and having your clients’ contact info sold to dozens of agents and other service providers is annoying. But when you craft MLS-based lists around the types of properties your clientele love, you’ll provide them with a unique service.

In essence, IDX allows you to give your customers exactly what they want. Now that’s a potent advertising tool.

But IDX will also make your life easier. How? By placing all of the information that your customers need right at their fingertips. 

That way, you only need to be in direct communication with them when they need a little nudge in the right direction. 

Finally, IDX can help you rank better in Google, which proves crucial to attracting new clients. If you’re not on page one of search rankings, you’re losing business. The IDX plugin can help you ramp up your SEO game.

Gaining a Competitive Edge over Other Agents

While the real estate industry has looked somewhat hesitantly at emerging technologies in the past, it’s time to take advantage of IDX. Or, you stand to lose out when it comes to harnessing the full potential of real estate lead generation.

Today’s savvy digital customer searches for added value. With the IDX WordPress plugin, you can provide this added value while establishing a trusted relationship with them.

What’s more, you can provide your clients with the information that they need at crucial points along the Customer Journey. Ready for more useful tools to help you generate leads? Browse our high-tech, high-quality web tools now. 

real estate lead generation

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