No matter whether you are a real estate agency or an individual agent, blogging has become a big differentiator between many offices (and eager staff) these days and in the coming years agents that demonstrate a deep understand of their market and may well set themselves apart, this is because vendors turn to agents that know their area of expertise and can prove it by displaying this for the world to see. Some blogs like Robert Simeon’s at www.rwm.com.au (full disclosure – we work with Robert on his technology) are fully integrated into his companies website, whilst others are separate entities that exist outside of the main domain.
Fully Integrated Solution
A full integrated solution basically means that your real estate website is also your blog and users of your website can both browse property listings read up on local issues, property news, taxation and get property advice. Some agents are also giving outside authors (lawyers, surveyors, builders etc) certain privileges to post directly to the agents website further enhancing the user experience and of course the authors profile).
To me, if given an option the fully integrated solution is the only true option for agencies – as you only need to promote one website and chances are, your real estate website already has a decent audience.
This is a blog (website) which exists externally from your main website. It is not the most desirable entity, but if you are an individual agent that wants to make a name for yourself outside of your agency, then this is a decent solution. For real estate agencies that want to have a blog, talk to your developer about getting a fully integrated solution. There are a number of great platforms available to you from Drupal, Expression Engine, Movable Type, Text Pattern, WordPress and Joomla.
All of these have large development communities and are pretty simple for your developers to setup. If you want to dip your feet in – you can also get a free website at www.wordpress.com (different to the software www.wordpress.org). This is probably best for the individual agent and best of all – you can one day upgrade to wordpress.org for your own self hosted solution.
New Agency Website
If you are getting a new website talk to your developer about getting a fully integrated solution, they should have no issues doing this (unless they don’t want to) and make sure you choose a platform that best suits your needs from one of these great solutions – Drupal, Expression Engine, Movable Type, Text Pattern, WordPress and Joomla.
If your web developer does not have the tools to do this – or informs you they are rolling something out in the future (almost always means never) then you may need to look for a new developer.
The great thing about all of these solutions about is that they are open and portable, so if your developer sucks you will never have any trouble finding a new one.
One thing to be very wary of is companies that have their own in house CMS systems, some are half decent, most are deplorable and they nearly always end in tears (if you ever want to leave). Thankfully most developers have left those days behind them, but you still will find a few handing onto the old business model. To them it is more about trapping you into a solution, so you can never leave.
All of the platforms mentioned here can do everything that any other CMS can do for your real estate website. All of them have tools that can easily add extra features and they all have large development communities to share ideas and code. So don’t be afraid to jump in.