Friday, April 23, 2010

Essential Items Your (Real Estate) Website Should Have

I've been asked often by colleagues (mostly the older ones) from the industry on what essential things their websites (or planned websites) should have in order to be successful in getting buyers interested with their listings. I always get surprised by these queries as I am not exactly the techie type though I do have several years experience with using the internet to sell properties than most of them. In any case, I share few useful pointers even if I ended explaining to them what those meant as a huge majority of them don't even know what SEO means.

So here's my short list of tips which is not really everything (to be more accurate about it, there tons of very useful and free stuff & tutorials out there on the web) but at least will give them the proper mindset:

1. Search Engine Friendly / Easy To Search - make your site easy for search engines to index. More than 90% of all property searches starts with search engines and unless google or yahoo or bing can easily find your site and make it to a searcher's query, your site might as well be considered as non existent.

2.) Photos - People who visit a site are looking for listings, properties, reviews. Unless you have relevant & nice photos, don't ever expect people to get excited about your listings. You can load pictures directly to your site or have them hosted on a photo sharing sites such as Flickr, Picasa & Multiply and free real estate advert sites just use the photo links to have them appear on your site or blog (see sample below from

3.) Complete Property Information - At the very least your site must have basic information of the house or property such as: exact location or address, no. of bedrooms, T&B, Lot & floor area, date constructed (for house), price (if possible), etc.

4.) Information / Inquiry Capture Mechanism - Whats the point of getting people pumped up with your hot offer when they don't have the means to contact you. Email address, telephone numbers, office address (if any) are very vital. You can easily get contact data by inserting a web form either for your newsletters or property inquiries. Just be sure to tell your visitors that you will not under any circumstance, sell or rent out their email address. If you hate spam, so do your visitors.

5.) Analytics - How do you know your marketing is working or not? The only way to do that is to have stats so you can measure your marketing success or failure. You don't have to cough out serious money for this as awesome tools such as Google Analytics are free! All you have to do is create an account.

6.) Videos - Pictures are nice but videos can do much much more. Videos engage viewers more than still photos. It also presents the property in a more realistic light which can enhance your credibility as well confirm to out of town prospects that your listings are real .
If you don't have one or some of these features, I highly recommend you add these to your site as you may be missing out a lot of potential property buyers. As mentioned earlier, there are a lot free stuff out there in the internet and all you have to is to use your trusty search engine to find these tools.

Now if you want something serious, you can also consider investing powerful systems such as 1 Buiness System. I bought & using one myself. This website system has a great package that you may need to set up a powerful real estate site as it's a complete suite. It has:

  • A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system which allows you to management existing & new leads & customers. It tracks and even records all their interactions with your site. Pretty cool huh?
  • A very easy to use Content Management System (CMS) which basically the ability to update your site with new content/information, photos, videos or new pages. You don't need to be a programmer or have code skills to do this. If you know how to use MS Word and other word processing application, you are good to go!
  • Forums & Blogs - you can create as many blogs and forums as you want! Real estate clients have specific needs and wants & the key to success (as you have already known) in real estate is about communication, interaction and conversation. What could be more cool than to create a forum and blog for your clients so they can have a voice? :)
  • Email Marketing Campaigns - You can launch highly targeted email campaigns to your existing clients & prospects on your email list!
  • Search Engine Friendly features - I am no SEO expert but it has lots of stuff that you can tweak &  making it easy for the search engines to index your content and real estate listings
  • Other features that you may or may not need: Ecommerce (sell stuff online such as real estate training ebooks), Analytics (you need this!), etc.
       To see if this system is for you, why not take this baby out for a spin at 1 Business Try out all the features (after all, its free so why not make good use of it) and see if it meets your needs. You can unleash your creativity here.

      If you have other ideas to grow this list of real estate website tips, please post a comment.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Environment-friendly House In Cebu

Last February, my daughter Gabby and I visited Cebu City Councilor Archibald's Green/Eco House in the suburbs.

I was really impressed with the measures taken by the owner to use eco-friendly means to maintain his house. Check out the pics and see for your self. Note: please don't mind the date stamps, I messed up the date functions of the cam somehow :)

 The Archibald Main House Front View
 Solar panels provide electricity while rainwater catchments recycle the water for reuse. The Archibald family saves a lot from their electric bills with the use of solar energy and efficient use of natural cooling techniques.
 Empty softdrink / soda cans look cool when used properly. The table is a cable wire spool!!
 Water used on this swimming pool is recycled, cleaned and treated
 This dome provides ventilation & cools the house as well as lighting
 Those small windows helps lighting up the house, maximizing the use of sunlight
 The different phases of the moon.
 That's an empty baking soda container used as a cover for the lamp shade.
 More lighting for the house
 A view of the living area. Those holes are discarded PVC pipes and provide additional ventilation.
 Closer look at the ventilation holes, viewed from the second floor
 A banca / traditional canoe bench
 Another cable spool converted to a table
Another view of the rainwater catch basin where Councilor Archibald also raises Tilapia & uses the excess water for his organic farming project.