Asking “How much should my website cost?” is like asking, “How much will a new house cost?” It depends on the size, features and workmanship. Good websites are not cheap, but they’re one of the best investments you can make in your business.When budgeting for your new or re-vamped website, carefully consider how much business you want to attract and how important a website is for your services. In global real estate, where awareness and trust must be cultivated from long distances—and transaction opportunities can be significant—it’s not very difficult to justify the expense of a good website.
Beware of Low-Ball Pricing
If someone offers to build your website for a few hundred dollars, ﬁnd out why they are so cheap. They may be:
- Using free templates and canned content.• New to the business and inexperienced (or less knowledgeable than you need them to be).
- Of the opinion that design is the only important part of a website and ignore other key aspects like programming, content and marketing requirements.
- Selling a hosting service and calling it a website. (It’s become pretty common for hosting providers to offer free basic sites with their hosting services, but this is not a commercial-grade site and you may lose your domain name, website and content if you decide to change hosts.)
- The build-it-and-leave-it type, which means you’ll have a static site and no way to make regular updates and upgrades as time goes on (and no one to ask when you have questions).
Pricing: The Facts
You should expect to pay between $100 and $200 an hour for design, programming, content and marketing services of the caliber needed for an excellent website. Few individuals have all these specialized skills; individual providers typically subcontract to other specialists to ﬁll any areas they lack. Website ﬁrms usually have one or more specialists on staff in each of these areas with backup contractors to handle work during busy times.
It’s worth the extra time and money to get professionals who understand how to work on a team, with the ultimate goal of building a site that delivers top-notch performance in the search engines, in user satisfaction and in sales conversions. If someone offers you a $500 website, you can assume they can’t cover all these bases.
Since agents’ needs and preferences differ—and there’s even more variety among web developers, including where and how they work—it’s difﬁcult to suggest a “best way” to ﬁnd trusted providers. Try identifying good examples among other agents’ sites and asking who they used. You can also join a group like Tech Support Group for Real Estate Agents on Facebook, where you can read about other agents’ experiences and request recommendations.
When building your site, make sure YOU stay in control of your domain name and website; check the administrative, technical and billing contacts to be sure your name appears there.
Select a host with great customer service (phone and email support), a daily full-system backup, built-in redundancies and 99 percent or better uptime. Enlist a website monitoring service such as SiteUptime.com or Site24x7.com, to make sure your site stays up and working for you. For just a few dollars a month, you can get notiﬁcations should your site ever experience “down” time due to a server issue.
Also recognize that your website is a living document. It will need updates, regular security upgrades and occasional changes. Unless you’re planning to do this yourself, ﬁnd a ﬁrm or individual who offers a service contract (annual, monthly or on an as-needed basis). A great website won’t help you reach global clients if it lies stagnant and drops from Googles’s top pages. Give your site regular attention and it will continue bringing you business.