Maybe you are just starting out in real estate, or you have been already for some time into the industry, but there might come the point where you would like to have your own real estate website.
And there are many benefits to owning and controlling your own site.
One of the major benefits is using it to generate real estate leads online. But how much should you spend on a real estate website?
Depending on your individual needs, the costs of a simple website that’s more or less just an online business card range between $0 and $297 per month.
For more functionality and customization using pre-made frameworks such as WordPress, costs range between $600 to $2,900.
And if you want a 100% custom-made real estate website, the prices start at $6,000.
This article will go more in-depth regarding the standard components of a real estate website, typical goals, and which website is most suitable for these goals with the related costs.
Overview of the 4 Usual Elements of a Real Estate Website
Many articles discussing the costs of a real estate website base their calculation on development from scratch.
However, this is only a smart way to go in very few cases.
To determine the costs a real estate website can have, let’s first look into the 4 standard components.
1) Real Estate Content
There are usually three types or sections of content with which your website can be populated.
The first is static content, such as an about me page, a resource page, a contact page, etc.
This content is published once and usually not changed very much over time.
The second one is ‘inventory content,’ which relates to your products.
If you are a real estate agent, these would be your listings. In the case of a real estate developer, it would be the different development projects and recently built properties.
The third type is blog content, such as videos and written articles.
Your real estate website is not populated once with it but continuously for both the ‘inventory content’ and the ‘blogging.’
These are the parts of the website where most updates and changes happen continuously, increasing the quantity of content over time.
All three types of content can have different formats, including professional photographs, videos, 3D property tours, written copy, renderings, and further property information (site plans, floor plans, property descriptions, etc.).
Blogging content is where you apply your content marketing strategy (check my article about it here). Thus, use an education-based approach without many hard sales or direct sales page copywriting.
You can better apply direct sales copy principles to the other two content types (inventory content and static content).
The more initial and also ongoing content production you plan to outsource, the more it will increase the overall cost.
Here, you might decide if you do it yourself with a significant initial and ongoing time investment or outsource it.
Design is a vast field; many reduce it to just some buttons, colors, and general aesthetics, thus just making things pretty.
But it’s much more than that since it has much more to do with usability.
Therefore, users (in your case, your website visitors) are at the core of the design thinking process.
Latter is all about how to create a system (your real estate website) to address the need or the problem of your potential target customers.
Here, basically, two elements overlap – aesthetics and functionality.
The ideal combination of both helps your target audience to solve their problems or satisfy their needs most efficiently.
Some more concrete elements for the design of a real estate website are:
- A good visual experience across different devices (tablet, mobile, desktop)
- The overall graphic design or layout
- The content layout for all pages
- The typography
- Color schemes (ideally based on neuromarketing research)
- Graphical elements, such as buttons and icons
Here, the cost significantly depends on the degree of customization you need.
Depending on the underlying content management system you want to use, if you need a completely unique design from scratch, it can increase your costs big time.
Suppose you use WordPress as an underlying content management system and want a completely unique design from scratch.
In that case, it’s not only the design process that will cost you but also the creation (coding) of a particular theme.
This theme will then be installed on top of WordPress to get you access to some backend functionality.
3) Development and/or Customization
The design of a (real estate website) is not some separate process of programming and customization, as I mentioned before the end of the last section.
The design process basically informs how much programming and/or customization work you will need later.
This phase makes your website fully functional and creates usability for your potential target customers or users you aim for.
There is a system that will largely decrease your ongoing development costs.
It’s a content management system (CMS).
For example, WordPress or Joomla helps you manage and edit your website’s content without the need to know web (programming) languages such as PHP or (much) HTML.
By using a CMS, you will need a lot less help from a web developer on an ongoing basis unless there are some bugs to fix from time to time.
So, in this phase, the CMS of your choice is implemented, installed, and customized depending on your needs.
Other standard functionalities that are often implemented in a real estate website are:
- Property details pages
- Property search filters
- Interactive site plans
- Interactive maps
- Integration of 3rd party functionality or tools (e.g., MLS IDX integration, CRMs, Email Marketing Providers, etc.)
- Membership login
You might have guessed it already. The costs of this phase also depend strongly on the degree of customization you need and whether you want to use a content management system in the first place.
4) Hosting and Maintenance
Unfortunately, the story is not over once your real estate website launches. It’s not a set-and-forget thing.
A lot will depend on the hosting company’s performance, reliability, and customer service.
So, ongoing costs in the context of hosting and maintenance can include:
- The hosting provider itself
- Security updates and patches
- CMS and plugin updates
- Bug fixing and technical support
I had many different websites in the past. And I can say there are some outstanding hosting providers, but also some – let’s say – sub-optimal ones out there.
It’s not funny when your website is down and you have to decline several upsales from technical support before getting help.
For several years now, I have had some very good experiences with a hosting provider called Siteground and Cloudways.
What Are Your Goals for Your Real Estate Website
I highly suspect that you are not in the business of creating a complete and new real estate web application such as Zillow or Trulia in a tech startup manner.
I rather assume you are asking from the perspective of a real estate professional, such as a realtor, an investor, a developer, a real estate attorney, and similar.
After the above-presented components of a real estate website, hopefully, the type of work that can be involved is clear.
But it’s still not complete enough to answer the question about costs more concretely.
So, how do we get to some more concrete numbers, then?
You will need to come up with more tangible goals.
To know your goals, you could ask yourself these questions first:
- Do you plan to actively use your real estate website to generate leads, or will it just be a digital “business card,” so if asked, you can say that you have a website?
- Is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) important to you?
- Will you create the ‘inventory’ and ‘fixed content’ by yourself, or will you outsource all of it?
- Are you planning to do content marketing?
- Do you need a unique design (e.g., your own typography, layout, etc.)? Or are you fine with a high degree of customization of an existing design template?
- Will you need a highly customized real estate website functionality developed from scratch (e.g. a content management system, a property search function, etc. developed by yourself or a programmer)?
- Are you planning to work with 3rd party platforms or tools?
Since I don’t know your individual goals, I will come up with 3 different scenarios in the next section where you might find yourself represented.
Then, based on the scenarios, I will present you with different types of real estate websites and associated costs.
Different Real Estate Websites for Different Goals
So, what are your goals and your requirements for your real estate website?
Here are the 3 different scenarios.
Scenario 1 – An Online Real Estate Business Card
In this scenario, your goal is to have a basic website that serves as your online business card.
It would contain basic information about your real estate business, such as who you are, the areas you serve, and some contact information.
Designing and developing it from scratch would be overkill, and you would be just fine with ready-made website tools or website builders, such as:
- WordPress.com (not to confuse with wordpress.org): Costs between $4 and $45 per month, billed annually.
- Zyro: Costs between $0 and $21.99 per month
- WebFlow: Costs between $15 and $45 per month
- Godaddy Website Builder: Costs between $10 and $25 per month, billed annually.
- Weebly: Costs between $5 and $25, billed annually.
- SITE123: Costs between $0 and $7.80 per month
- PageCloud: Costs between $24 and $65 per month
- Simvoly: Costs between $12 and $149 per month, billed annually.
Scenario 2 – A Semi-Unique Real Estate Website to Generate Leads
In this scenario, you can take advantage of already existing frameworks, adapt their functionality, and design solutions to your needs.
While some of the above website builders have limited capacity for customization and lead generation functionality, you may want to go for a framework with more upside and scalability potential in this scenario.
Such a framework is, without a doubt wordpress.org.
It is the most popular open-source website and blogging platform and is free for anyone.
Since it’s free to use, you would only need a hosting provider, a domain name, and the knowledge to put it all together, and you are good to go.
In contrast to the solution for the above scenario, you will have full control of your website. No one can suddenly turn it off because you didn’t follow some fine print of the terms of services.
This platform is highly customizable, and a lot of additional functionality can be added on by different plugins you can install.
Several different IDX integration options exist, particularly relevant for real estate professionals, such as realtors.
In this article, I discussed how to integrate your MLS into WordPress.
Additionally, many different highly customizable design templates are available (some paid, some free). So you can adapt the look and feel of your real estate website to your needs.
There are different templates for different industries, and real estate is no exception.
Some templates or so-called themes have a particular focus on real estate.
Google Analytics can be integrated for website visitor tracking, but that’s just one tracking solution that can be connected with the WordPress platform.
For this platform, almost the sky’s the limit when adapting the functionality and design to your needs.
Therefore, it comes closest to building a website from scratch but using already existing frameworks.
So, what is the cost?
Since it’s such a versatile framework that can be adapted to your real estate needs, the cost depends very much on your requirements.
For WordPress, handling your traffic, opt-ins, conversions, leads, and customers is no problem using suitable themes and plugins.
I will give you some ballpark below:
- Registering a Domain Name: $12/year
- Using a Hosting Provider: from $3.95/month (depends on the level of web server capacity you need, check out my favorite hosting company, Siteground)
- Premade themes for the website layout, design, and some basic functionality: $0-$200 (usually one-time payment)
- Plugins for added functionality: $0-$1000 (one-time or ongoing monthly or annual payments)
- Optional Security: from $50 (one-time or ongoing payments). Unless you use ‘Password’ as your password and don’t overdo it with plugins, WordPress itself is pretty safe, and many good hosting providers such as Siteground include good security features in their plans
- Fees for Customization and Developing: $0 to $1000 (one-time fee)
So, all in all, the total costs to start range between $600 to $2,900.
Unfortunately, a fixed number is hard to come up with something so well customizable.
Scenario 3 – A Highly Unique and Secure Custom Real Estate Website to Generate Leads
Unless you are a developer and web designer yourself, this scenario will cause the highest costs.
However, you might prefer it because you do not want to rely on an existing framework.
This is the case with WordPress and all the additional modules you can add.
Another reason for doing this is needing such a unique design that it doesn’t already exist as a WordPress theme, or the existing WordPress themes can’t be customized.
Since such a large number of themes are available for the real estate industry, it is pretty unlikely.
I also doubt that most real estate professionals will fall into this scenario.
You usually don’t want to make a design or art statement and just need a decent, professionally-looking website that generates leads reliably and is easy to use.
To achieve this, you need a design and layout that is expected by potential customers.
Here, you can look at an example of a highly unique website design, so you know what I mean.
When it comes to unique designs, you want to remember that a high degree of creativity often comes at the cost of ease of use and overall conversion rates.
Because it’s usually not what the average user is expecting.
This might not entirely be the case if you are in the design industry and, for example, a product designer.
Here, of course, your potential customers expect to see already your design skills presented on your business website.
In this article, I mentioned that a website doesn’t need to look beautiful or unique to have reasonable conversion rates.
A (web) design company would beg to differ. Still, you can’t be sure that this will be an unbiased, objective opinion based on facts.
Another reason you might prefer scenario 3 is that you need a degree of functionality and security that can’t be achieved with the WordPress framework.
Additionally, you might want to own the code, exclusively control it yourself, want to avoid unnecessary code in development files, and experiment with new technologies.
Again, being in the real estate industry, you will only find yourself in scenario 3 in rare cases.
It may happen if you plan a real estate tech startup that wants to try something new and implement new technology to disrupt the industry.
Now, in terms of cost, what would be the damage in scenario 3?
The same as in creativity and functionality, in terms of costs, the sky’s the limit.
Agencies and developers charge around $6,000 upfront and upwards, and an annual cost of $1,000.
This is just a ballpark, and since this is the most creative scenario, the costs depend more on individual requirements.
In conclusion, the basic rule is that the more custom coding and design from scratch are involved, the higher the cost.
And the more you can use different premade modules, frameworks, and templates, the less customization you need and the lower the price.
However, this also means less degree of freedom.
This article has been reviewed by our editorial team. It has been approved for publication in accordance with our editorial policy.