Are you a real estate agent? Do you run a real estate agency? Wondering how to create a full-fledged real estate website on your own? Well you’re in the right place!
For many, buying a home is a lifetime dream. They invest all their savings into buying their dream home. There’s a lot of emotions attached to it.
In such cases, they would like to associate themselves with someone they can trust. Someone who can help them in the process of finding their dream home. Are you their trusted realtor?
Your real estate website has to be designed to build that trust!
The key ingredients in building a successful real estate website are,
- Allowing prospects to view your property listings, photos and walkthroughs
- Showing prospects the exact location of the property using maps
- Educating prospects on the neighbourhood around the property
- And most importantly, getting yourself out there and establishing a connection with your prospect even before your first rendezvous
In this article, we’ll walk you through, step-by-step on how to build a real estate website using Astra and Toolset. A website that will help you convert prospects into sales and one that you will be proud of!
And the best bit, you don’t need to have any technical knowledge whatsoever!
What are your initial thoughts when you think about creating your own real estate website?
It could be…
- Do we hire a professional website developer?
- How much is it going to cost?
- How long is it going to take?
Do you ever consider you might be able to do it yourself? It isn’t as difficult as you might think!
With WordPress, the Astra theme and Toolset, you could have a working website up and running in hours. Yes, really!
You don’t have to depend on a website developer to create a website. You needn’t be technically skilled to create and manage it either. With basic computer skills and a little time and effort, you can create amazing websites!
Creating real estate websites can also be pretty expensive. Market estimates indicate the cost of having a developer create a real estate website could start anywhere from $4,000 for basic listing sites, all the way to $30,000 for more complex sites.
If you did it yourself, it could cost as little as buying a domain name and hosting. You could spend more on a premium WordPress theme like Astra and powerful WordPress plugins, but even then, that’s a significant saving over having a developer do it.
With WordPress, you can have a fully functioning website up and running in under ten minutes. To see how, check out our beginners guide on how to create a WordPress website.
Once you’ve created a basic website using WordPress, you can enhance it with a full-fledged real estate listing website using a plugin called Toolset.
Toolset is an all-in-one WordPress plugin that provides all the tools you could need to build advanced websites. for managing custom content in WordPress. It allows you to create custom content, custom taxonomy, custom post types and custom fields.
Using Toolset, you can build advanced WordPress websites without writing a single line of code.
Toolset includes the elements you’d typically see in a real estate website, such as property search, property submission forms, Google maps integration, agent assigned properties and a whole lot more.
Whether you are a real estate agent, an agency, or a developer creating a real estate website for your clients, this is a considerable saving.
Towards the end of this article, we’ve included a detailed tutorial on creating custom real estate sites with Toolset to help you set one up.
Before diving into the actual process of creating a real estate website, let’s step back a bit and ask an all-important question.
- As an agent (or an agency), do we need a real estate website?
- And what are the benefits of having one?
Ok, that’s two questions!
The good news is that real estate is now being sold faster. With more and more property owners willing to offer discounts and buyers wanting to cash in on the best prices, the real estate market sees an upward trend.
Going by the NAR report that 52% of home buyers start looking for the best deals on the web, it’s imperative to maximize your marketing strategies and include a professional real estate website as one of your top selling tools.
You’ll probably agree that today’s home buyers are well educated even before contacting an agent. From the actual home buying process to the prerequisites and checklists before purchasing a home, documentation, and more, your home buyer is well informed.
So why not be the Wikipedia of your local market?
In addition to showcasing the best listings in town that include great visuals and walkthroughs, have local information such as the best schools, hospitals, restaurants, malls, and so on.
Also create a lead magnet, for e.g., an ebook on the best properties in your location under $$$$$ or offer a free evaluation of their property. We’re sure you can come up with lots of other ideas.
Not only are you educating home buyers, but you are also building authority for yourself. And in the process, you are converting a casual visitor on your website into a prospect.
Creating a real estate website is easier than you thought. Whether you’re a rookie or a sales mogul, this article will help you elevate your real estate business to the next level without ever needing to write a single line of code.
And as far as the second question is concerned, we’ve listed some of the key benefits of having a real estate website,
- Build on your brand
Your website is your online presence. Use it not only to share your property listings but also to provide valuable information and show off your expertise.
Create blogs, educational articles, information related to real estate, market trends, and so on. Become the go-to person for anything that has to do with real estate. Become an authority (influencer) in your industry.
- Open 24/7, 365 Days
Ok, we are not hinting you work round the clock, all year long. But the fact is, when you are online, there are no time zones. Clients can contact you whenever they want.
And the key to ensuring your clients stick to you is by responding at the earliest possible. With the help of automation and chatbots, you can respond to your clients even when you’re asleep.
- Generate more leads
Your real estate website is your online office and should be the first touchpoint where potential clients find you.
Just like in the offline world, when a potential client visits your office, and you collect their details, your real estate website must be set up to capture leads.
Looking for a great plugin to capture leads? Check out our popular Convert Pro plugin.
- Global Audience
There are no restrictions on geographical boundaries when it comes to viewing your website. Thus, you are potentially promoting your property listings and real estate services to a global audience.
- Digital Marketing
Last but not least, use the power of digital marketing to promote your real estate website. From email marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing (SMM), paid ads on Google, blogging and other methods, you are opening a whole new dimension to your real estate business.
With the help of cutting-edge technologies, 3D walkthroughs and videos, you can showcase your listings to a prospect from the comfort of their home.
Now, let’s start creating our real estate website.
A quick search on Google for the best tools for building a real estate website will throw you several options.
On one hand, you have specialized real estate themes with built-in functionality. And on the other hand, there is a combination of our Astra theme and Toolset plugins.
While platforms such as Placester, Wix, Squarespace, are ideal for beginner websites, you do not have the flexibility that WordPress offers you.
From adding custom forms, basic or advanced search features, integrating maps that pinpoints your property location, you have total control over what you want and what you don’t.
While there is a slight learning curve with WordPress and Toolset, you are at liberty to add any feature you need and customize your website accordingly.
Toolset adds the features a real estate website needs and Astra is one of the most popular WordPress themes in the world. Websites built with Astra have a faster load time, better conversion rate, and improved SEO.
Together, Toolset and Astra work seamlessly to help you build amazing real estate websites.
Don’t forget, Toolset’s Discover WP offers an entirely free testing ground where you can create an account and a test site with all Toolset plugins and Astra.
Without further ado, let’s get started with our real estate website. We’ll start by purchasing a domain and hosting. Once that’s done, we’ll install WordPress, Astra, and Toolset.
Chances are you’ve already decided on a name for your real estate business or will want to use the name you’re using now. If you haven’t purchased a domain name yet, go ahead and purchase one.
While you can decide on a domain extension of your choice, we recommend choosing a .com domain extension. It’s a commonly used and widely recognized domain extension.
The cost of a domain name ranges anywhere from $9 per year. There are several options to choose from.
The next step in creating your website is choosing a hosting provider. In some cases, the domain registrars sell their own hosting services too.
You can purchase the domain and hosting from the same service provider. This makes managing both your domain and the hosting a lot easier and setup will be handled for you. In some cases, the hosting service provider offers a free domain for the first year.
The hosting provider you select depends on your needs, your location, privacy requirements, scalability, speed, and so on.
We recommend SiteGround. They have fantastic customer support that can help you through every step.
Using the WordPress auto-installer or the WordPress setup wizard, you’ll have your WordPress website installed in just a few clicks.
For a step-by-step tutorial on installing WordPress, check out our beginners’ guide on creating a WordPress website.
Now that you’ve installed WordPress, it’s time to install your theme.
The theme controls how the website will look. The fonts, the colors and the layout are all defined within your WordPress theme.
Toolset plugins have their own installation and update mechanism.
To use it, the first step is to install the Toolset Types plugin manually. Once that’s completed, you can automatically add the rest of the Toolset plugins and update them from the WordPress dashboard.
1. Head over to the Toolset downloads page in your Toolset account and download the latest Types version.
3. Select the Types plugin .zip file you just downloaded.
4. Install and activate the plugin.
Once completed, let’s proceed with the automatic installation of the other Toolset plugins.
1. Head over to Plugins > Add new and click on the Commercial tab.
To activate them, simply check the Activate after download box.
And you are done! You now have the Toolset plugin and components all installed on your website.
Great! We’ve completed a lot so far but now the real fun begins.
We’ve bought the domain and hosting, installed WordPress, the Astra theme, and the Toolset plugins and components. It’s now time to populate the website with the content, properties, images, and everything you’ll need for your website.
We’ll now show you how to build the following features needed on a real estate website,
- Create custom post types for different properties (condos, apartments, villas) and agents
- Create custom fields to add information such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, so on
- Create taxonomies to categorize your properties
- Create templates to display properties
- Create post-relationships to link the estate agents with the properties they promoting
- Create an advanced search for users to find the best properties easily
- Create maps to show the property locations and search results
- Create a form in the front-end for users to submit their property listings
Toolset’s Discover WP offers an entirely free testing ground where you can create an account and a test site with all Toolset plugins and Astra. It includes a working real estate site prototype.
It’s a great way to experiment with colours, layout and options before committing those to your new website. Try it and see what you can create!
Reference sites are ‘done for you’ websites that you can use to build your website. You can learn and experiment using the Toolset plugins. They are a good launchpad (reference) to learn the various aspects of creating your site.
To access the reference sites, you’ll need to first install the Toolset Framework Installer add-on.
Assuming you have the Toolset Types plugin installed and active, go to Plugins > Add new and select the Commercial tab.
Select Toolset Framework Installer, and ensure the Activate after download option is checked. Then click Download.
Since we are creating a real estate website, the reference site selected is ‘C&B Properties.’
Ok, let’s get started building our real estate website!
Do you want to showcase all the apartments or the condos available on your website?
For instance, how about a URL such as ‘https://yourdomain.com/condos‘ to display all the condominiums available in your inventory. Well, simply create a custom post type.
Have the name entered both in singular and in the plural. The slug will be auto-populated.
While most of the other options can be left to their default values, you could scroll down a little if you’d like to add a taxonomy to this post type. We’ll cover taxonomy a little later in this article.
Once you’re done, click on Save Post Type.
And that’s it. You created a custom post type.
After creating a custom post type, we need to add some custom fields.
For instance, in our condos example, wouldn’t you like to add how many bedrooms or bathrooms or balconies your condo has?
This can be accomplished by creating the custom fields for each feature.
Custom fields is a feature that allows users to add additional information when creating a post. Custom fields, once created, give us a template with sections that we’ll have to fill in to add the property descriptions.
Considering this is the first time we are creating custom fields, select the type of field you’d like to create.
For instance, we’d like to add a custom field to enter the number of bedrooms. So, we need to select the Number field from the options shown in the image above.
If you’d like to add a video, a URL, or an image as custom fields, you could do so by selecting the appropriate fields.
As shown above, we’ve created a custom field ‘Bedrooms’. The slug is auto-populated. The remaining details are pretty self-explanatory.
You could choose to display additional information based on your website requirements. For instance, you could display a validation error message if you’ve checked the Validation box, and so on.
The custom fields have now been added to the field group.
Now, every time you create or edit your condos posts, you can add or update your custom fields.
You have properties for sale, and you have properties for rent. You also have properties that are furnished and unfurnished properties.
How about creating categories for each of these?
That’s precisely what you can achieve by creating custom taxonomies.
Custom taxonomies help you group your properties based on different categories, in turn, to help home buyers easily find properties that match their requirements.
Now, name your taxonomy both in the plural as well as in singular.
Next, select one of the taxonomy types.
You can choose from either a hierarchical or flat taxonomy type. If you select the hierarchical type, you can nest taxonomies as parent and child terms.
For example, our parent term could be ‘Property Type’ and the child terms could be apartments, condos, villas, and so on.
We’ll leave it to the default ‘Hierarchical’ type.
Finally, select the post type to which you’d like to add this taxonomy to, which in our case is Condos. Once you’re done, click on Save Taxonomy.
Now, head over to your post type and click on Add New.
Click on Add New Property Type and group your property accordingly. For instance, we’ve added the property type ‘For Sale.’ This way, we can group the properties based on them being available for sale or rent.
Once you’ve added a property type (For Sale), the next time you create a new property post, you can just select the property type you’ve just created or add a new one accordingly.
Wondering how to display your properties? We do that by creating a template.
A template is designed once and used to control how a post appears on the website’s front-end. You design these templates visually through a drag and drop editor without editing any file or writing a single line of code. Templates also save time and effort and are a major benefit of Toolset.
The templates that you create using Toolset can include your custom fields, taxonomy, related posts, and just about anything coming in from your WordPress database.
To create a template, you insert the fields, arrange them in a layout of your choice, and then design how to display them on the front-end.
To create any part of the template, simply select the blocks from the Toolset section.
For instance, as shown in the image above, the Post Source is the current post being displayed by the template. And the source for the heading can be one of the options under the dropdown.
You can design your template the way you wish to by adding various Toolset blocks.
For example, you can arrange the content in columns, display parts of the template conditionally, use containers, display a list of related posts, and so on.
To help you further create your templates, check out these videos on Creating Templates to Display Custom Posts in WordPress.
Typically an estate agent would be promoting multiple properties. In such cases, it helps to connect the agent with multiple properties (post) on your real estate website.
Using this feature, every property listed by an individual agent would link back to their profile. Any changes to that profile will be automatically updated on any of their properties. It’s a simple and very efficient way to keep everything up to date on your website.
You can connect different posts (posts, pages, custom types) using post relationships. They can help avoid duplicate content and ensure consistency across your website.
Let’s consider an example to understand the power of post-relationship.
On our real estate website, each estate agent will list multiple properties. There are also chances of a property being represented by different agents.
Now, let’s say that you want to update the image or the contact details of a particular agent. How do you do this?
Without the use of post-relationship, we’re guessing you’d have to edit each of the property pages where this agent features. If your website has a few pages, you’re good. But, what if your site lists thousands of properties and agents?
Post-relationships solve this problem!
There will only be one post entry for each agent that will include all their details. The various properties featuring this agent will all point to the agent’s profile. When you edit the agent’s page, it immediately shows across all the property listings and pages in which the agent is included.
On our real estate website, let’s create a post-relationship between the properties and agents.
Head over to Toolset > Relationships and click Add New.
Since an agent could be promoting multiple properties, we’ll select ‘One-to-many.’ Click on Continue to proceed.
For instance, we’ll create a relationship between agents and properties (as against our previous example of Condos).
We’ll select the two as shown in the image above. Click on Continue.
The default value is to set to No limit, and you could choose to leave it that way.
Once you’re done, click on Finish.
Our next step is to connect specific posts from the related post types.
For the sake of this example, we’re making use of one of the existing properties on the review site — edit one of the existing property posts available.
Now, you can assign an agent to this property.
You’ll notice the agent has been added to the property. Click Update to save your post.
Remember our template for displaying properties? Now that you have connected agents and properties you can easily display information about an agent when displaying a property.
And that’s how you add a post-relationship!
What is the one common feature you’d notice on any property website? Search!
With Toolset, you can choose what to search, customize the search box, and display the results. You can also display custom search results on a map or set up the search control and results side-by-side.
For instance, we’ve named our view as ‘Custom Search 1’, as shown above.
Select an option and click Next.
In the ‘View Search’ section, you get to add the search fields, i.e., the filters for your search. You could add a search field, a submit button (search button), and a reset button, among other options.
For instance, as shown in the image above, we’d added filters for property types, bedrooms, and price. We’ve also added a submit button by clicking on ‘+ Add Search Button.’
Want to provide your users a reset button? Click on ‘+ Add Reset Button’.
Click on ‘+ Add Block’ in the View Loop box.
We wouldn’t want a text to appear in place of an image, would we?
Once you’ve designed your search results, click on Publish.
You can now add this search to any page within your website.
To help you create various custom searches, check out these videos to create custom search results in WordPress.
Real estate is all about location, location, and location.
While creating a map in Toolset is pretty straightforward, there are a few prerequisites you’ll need to complete before using the maps.
First, we will need to have Toolset Maps installed.
For this, you’d need to go to the Plugins > Add New and click on the Commercial tab.
Amongst the list of Toolset plugins select Toolset Maps. Ensure you have the Activate after download option checked, and then click on Download. You can also download the plugin from your Toolset account page and have it manually uploaded to your site.
We then require a Google Maps or Azure Maps API key for the maps to function. To obtain an API key for both Google Maps and Azure Maps, you’ll need to set up an account on the respective platforms.
While obtaining the API key is free, you need to set up your billing information. Once set up, you’ll have a limited amount of free API calls each month. You’ll be charged automatically if you exceed that limit.
Once you have installed and configured Toolset Maps, the next step to display the maps and properties seamlessly is to include a custom address field to your properties.
This address will then be used to display the location of the property on the map.
These custom fields appear at the bottom of the page, while creating a new post.
Creating a custom address field can be achieved by either creating a group of custom fields or editing an existing one.
For instance, head over to Toolset > Custom Types and edit the ‘Field Group for Condos’ custom type we created earlier.
Once we’ve entered all the required fields, click on ‘Save Field Group’.
Now if you were to add a new post, you’ll notice the Address field included in the list of custom field types.
As you key in the location, your map’s autocomplete service will display the appropriate address.
Now that we’ve completed the prerequisites, let’s go ahead and add a map.
To include a map, we will need to place both the View and the Map blocks on the same page.
And click on Create View.
Since we’d like the map to indicate the location of the properties displayed on the page we’re creating, let’s first add the properties on the page.
For which, under the View Loop section, click on ‘+ Add Block’.
Add the fields you’d like to display on the results page. For instance, we’ve added the title and the image. Remember to enable the dynamic option, as we explained earlier.
Next, we’ve got to add a map block.
The map block cannot be inside the View block, so you’ll have to add the map in a completely new block. You notice two add block icons (+).
There are a number of customization options that’ll show up on the right side of the page. From selecting the width and height to zoom options and many more.
Once selected, you’ll notice the map displayed with the markers indicating the various property locations.
You’ve now successfully added a map displaying the property locations, as shown in the image above. How simple was that?
Want to allow homeowners and users to advertise their property on your website?
Piece of cake!
The easiest way is to provide a form on your website with all the relevant fields included.
The user is prompted that the property details submitted are under moderation.
Thus allowing users to easily add property details to your website.
And thanks to Toolset’s drag and drop editor, creating a form couldn’t be easier!
Head over to Toolset > Post Forms and click Add New.
The option available is self-explanatory. For instance, once the user has submitted the property details, you could set the post status to draft, pending review, private, or published.
Once you have completed the steps, click on Continue.
You could choose to add or delete the fields.
Click Finish when you’re done.
Like we added maps, head over to the page or template where you’d like to add this form.
This will then add your form to the page.
You’ve just included a form on the page. That’s how simple it is to add a form in Toolset!
There are several ways to create a real estate website. From simple standalone websites to complex property listing websites, the options are plenty. But when it comes to features, flexibility, customization, and costs, we recommend going with Astra and Toolset.
Yes, there is a learning curve upfront. And creating a full-fledged and functional website using Toolset may take a while.
In return you can build a powerful, flexible website that you control. That you can maintain and that you can develop and grow. We think that’s well worth the time and effort it takes to learn how they work!
To help with the learning curve, we created a free course on creating WordPress Real Estate Sites using Astra and Toolset. Through this course, you’ll be able to explore every element of the Toolset in greater detail.
Now you really have no excuse!
Which feature of Toolset did you like? We’d like to know!