Real estate website vendor selection is a lengthy process and one that should certainly not be overlooked. The most common guiding factor in whether a brokerage chooses a national, or even international, website vendor or a local shop that does websites is that of familiarity. For a local partner, there is the comfort of knowing meetings can take place face-to-face when needed. This is a huge incentive. However, brokers also find comfort in the collective mindshare and power of a large vendor that has a proven track record.
There are many other factors to consider as well. Below are the pros and cons for each side of this equation broken down into generalities for each. These are based on our observations of working with both.
Real Estate Website Vendor
Typically, a real estate-specific vendor is more economical, but that is not always the case. Because they can scale their technology and leverage a platform, they can reduce upfront costs.
Often, there are additional tools, such as CRM, email marketing, and market reports that you can leverage to grow your business and help your agents become more productive.
Other clients may drive innovation and, in many cases, pay for upgrades that are ultimately rolled out to you. So, you benefit from the crowdsourcing and you by nature get a proactive stance on your technology.
Support is key. Large website vendors typically have a plan or customer service team to support your brokerage and your sales associates.
They can launch faster and deal with feeds faster due to economies of scale and existing infrastructure.
They are often tied into existing real estate vendors to leverage existing relationships whether it be leads, listings portals, virtual tour companies or more.
May not be as nimble and customizable as the local companies.
Sometimes changes go into a queue and are prioritized. So, your suggestions may be important to you, but may not get done as quickly as you would like.
The train-the-trainer approach is common and unsuccessful based on numerous internal factors regarding your staff. This approach is where the technology company trains your team to support their product with your sales associates. Works in a small percentage of brokerages and can negatively impact agent adoption.
They don’t usually have local knowledge which can ultimately hurt strategy.
You may be a small fish if the tech company is dealing with much larger clients who take priority (although they may never tell you that it happens).
Local Real Real Estate Website Vendor
Typically, they are nimble in making technology adjustments or new strategies as they probably only work with one or two real estate firms.
They have local knowledge and can team up with the brokerage to create great strategies.
Are able to shed the template feel of many technical aspects and design elements.
Some are very responsive and can accommodate in-person regular strategy sessions.
Customizations for the brokerage, their business model, and local nuances are often seen.
Costs are sometimes larger long-term. You may end up paying more for easy and common integrations.
Timing to accomplish launches and significant changes may be prolonged, but small fixes may happen faster depending on complexity.
Support is tough to come by if you are scaling to agent counts of over 50.
Proactivity is driven by the brokerage, which can be a problem if the brokerage is distracted. Often, we see stale technology and less innovation here.
These lists are not complete, but a great benchmark to decide what is right for your brokerage. We have seen killer technology from local website vendors, but it takes a special brokerage and big financial resources to drive that innovation. This doesn't mean that the mainstream real estate website vendors won't also be costly, there is just likely to be much more support, updates, and administration in place.
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