The WordPress Hosting Strategy that Works for Real Estate Agents TODAY

Real estate agents are using WP Engine managed WordPress hosting to increase real estate website speed and convert more leads.

After seeing the results from Boston Condo Guy and Stuart St James migrating their WordPress-based real estate websites to WP Engine, we moved Entry Only New England as well.

Immediately upon migrating the Boston Condo Guy real estate website to WP Engine, page load times decreased from 5.2 seconds to 2.3 seconds, a 56% reduction!

Here’s a view of the website speed test on Boston Condo Guy before switching real estate website hosting providers.

Real Estate WordPress Hosting - Before WP Engine

Here’s the same website speed test conducted immediately following the migration to WP Engine, and not making any additional changes to the site.

Real Estate WordPress Hosting - After WP Engine

What Every Real Estate Agent Needs to Know About Hosting Their WordPress Website

More than 20% of the entire web runs on top of WordPress.

No doubt if you’re a real estate broker or agent, your web presence runs on top of WordPress too.

WP Engine has arguably the fastest WordPress servers on the planet. As Google makes website speed and page load times more critical ranking factors for their search results pages, real estate brokers and agents can easily get ahead of the curve by taking advantage of super fast WordPress hosting.

With Google telling me that high performance web sites lead to higher visitor engagement, retention, and conversions, I couldn’t argue with taking intentional steps to put Entry Only New England on the WP Engine platform.

WordPress Hosting Providers for Boston Real Estate Websites

If you’re using a low cost hosting provider that doesn’t specialize in highly optimized WordPress-based websites for real estate, you’re doing yourself and your clients a disservice.

WP Engine can easily scale alongside you as your business grows, it comes with automated daily backup so there’s one less thing to worry about, there’s a website staging environment included, and highly reliable WordPress security comes standard with any hosting plan.

Exclusive “Staging” Feature at WP Engine

One of the fundamental differences between WP Engine and other managed WordPress hosting providers, and frankly, something that sets them apart as a leader in the space, is offering a staging environment with each account at no additional charge.

Essentially, a staging site is an independent clone of your live production site. Rather than making changes to your production site, you can make changes to a safe staging site, and then easily migrate changes made in staging back out to production in a few clicks.

Each WordPress install at WP Engine can have its own staging site, you can create a staging site with one click, and promote changes made to a staging site out to production with a few clicks.

The support experience at WP Engine has been solid.

I love the live chat feature, and overall, support is miles better at WP Engine than a low cost hosting provider that can oftentimes struggle to get back to you in a timely manner should you need help – WP Engine support is real time and email support is extremely timely.

WP Engine WordPress Hosting for Real Estate - Free Trial

What is the MLS?

Whether you are interested in buying or selling a home you may have heard that you should take a closer look at what is available in the MLS. While this is an acronym that is thrown around quite frequently within the real estate industry, many people do not fully understand what the MLS is or how it can help them with buying or selling their home. Therefore, before you contact a real estate agent, it is good to learn a bit more about the MLS and how it can help you.

The Basics of the MLS

The Multiple Listing Service, or MLS, is a massive database that contains information about homes that are for sale throughout the country. Through the MLS, you can gain access to information about properties that have been listed by agents other than the agent you have hired to help you find a home. “Not only does it allow you to access a greater number of homes, but it also allows you to conduct searches based on certain criteria,” says Brian Kinkade*.

While some property information is available for the general consumer to access on the Internet, you will need to go through a real estate agent if you wish to tap into the complete MLS system. This is because all of the properties available in the MLS are not listed on the Internet. In addition, there is no national MLS database. Rather, the information that is contained on the Internet has simply been compiled and shared by local and regional MLS systems. Since the local and regional systems do not participate to the same extent, certain information may be missing from the Internet.

Getting Use of the MLS as a Seller

The MLS is an excellent tool for getting a home sold. While placing ads is certainly a great way to grab the attention of potential buyers, listing your home on the MLS makes it accessible to every MLS member and the thousands of websites to which each MLS system syndicates listings (How to list on the MLS). Therefore, when a real estate agent conducts a search on behalf of his or her clients, your home will be among those that are available in the database. In short, being in the MLS helps to further expand the number of potential buyers while also helping to create a greater demand for the property. Not only will this help you get your home sold faster, but it will also increase the amount that you can hope to get for the property.

Getting Use of the MLS as a Buyer

As a buyer, the MLS helps you search through a broader range of properties. As a result, you are more likely to find a home to suit your needs as well as your budget. In short, it creates a win-win situation for everyone who is involved in the entire process!

Real Estate Finally Logs on to Facebook

Any start-up founded in 2008 or after would be remiss without plotting an online social media marketing course that included Facebook. But in practical implementation terms, are Facebook or Twitter legitimate and earnest ways to drive exposure to your brand? With significant search engine results page (SERP) related penalties being paid in the past by firms who went online and did what all their peers were doing, trying to drive content creation and links, but doing it in an unnatural and manipulative way, any firm has to ask themselves whether they’re poking and tweeting for the right reasons.

What’s the true value of social media in real estate for buyers and sellers, the real essence of it? For instance, as a seller, am I getting any real value out of having an Agent tweet about my listing, or if my Broker has a Facebook page, are they going to sell my house faster? If Brokers are out there trying to do the right things for the right reasons, are social media websites and real estate a value producing combination, or are they just a necessary evil for Brokers who are trying to get ahead in SERPs?

While worth considering, perhaps these are deeper and more thought provoking questions than what we want to cover in this particular article. But currently with more than 800 million active users and more than 50% of those users logging on in any given day, Facebook is a formidable reality that, rather than being taken advantage of for the benefit of SERPs or the like, a firm must make part of their standard operating procedures. And for that reason, we recently implemented Facebook login at Stuart St James.

Stuart St James (http://stuartstjames.com) is a growing Boston real estate brokerage and Facebook login is a feature function that we recently incorporated into our flagship website. Facebook login was developed by our real estate web design & search partner, Displet, and the feature allows users to register or login to our site using their Facebook credentials. Centered on the principal that when real estate buyers and sellers are online, there’s a good chance that they are logged on to Facebook, the Facebook login feature is a technology advancement that makes the home search process more seamless, simple, and efficient by allowing users to leverage their already known and memorized Facebook credentials to setup an account on our site.

At this moment, as far as we know, we’re the only Boston real estate brokerage that offers this convenient Facebook login technology. That badge of honor is surely not going to last. Much like in 2006 when a site like Boston Condo Guy was the forerunner in bringing Google map-based search to the Boston market, the feature function was soon replicated by other brokerages and is now commonplace across real estate related websites.

So rather than focusing on SERPs and how to leverage social media, even with shielding yourself from those “wrong reasons”, we’re trying to keep it simple, focusing on rolling out simple and intuitive technology that ultimately drives a better real estate experience for buyers, sellers, renters, and developers.

Does Real Estate Technology Matter for Buyers?

Lately, I’ve been exploring whether real estate technology tools really matter in the home buying process. My findings? Absolutely yes.

Do you have to go to third party sites to get information about the homes and listings you’re interested in? Does your realtor have excellent “techie tools”? Do they have an app for your smart phone to help you pull up listings around you in real time? Do they have recently sold homes in your area that you can access quickly?

Internet Search Goes Visual

With the search engine space being dominated by Google, you might think that there is no room for further innovation in the arena, however, over the past several months, new search engines have arisen that put a unique spin on how you find websites. Two of those search engines, described below, make a significant departure from the list-based search engine results pages (SERPs) that are characteristic of Google (Yahoo, and MSN).

SearchMe: Visual Search

SearchMe is a relatively new (still in beta) search engine that has a slick and easy to use interface that is visually stunning. After typing in a search phrase, the user is presented with screen shots of (hopefully) relevant websites that can be flipped through as though you were flipping through whole page advertisements while reading a magazine. The typical text based results of page titles that you would see on a standard SERP can be found by hovering your mouse over the top of one of the screenshots. Perhaps one of the only significant drawbacks to this engine is the number of clicks and time needed to scan through numerous sites. Our search for Boston Condo Blog displayed us as the third “page” in the search.

SearchMe Visual Search

Cuil Search Engine

The new (released Monday) search engine Cuil has been launched by former Google employees, and on the top of its features and benefits list is the cataloging of three times the number of webpages as Google (over 120 billion), and a unique magazine style display mechanism that is more visually intuitive than standard SERPs. Cuil is just getting off the ground, so while they have crawled a lot of sites, the actual search engine is still a little slow in returning results (perhaps due in part to their scaled down infrastructure versus that of Google), and some of the searches that we performed seemed to return too many pages from a single website (i.e. too many of the results on the “front page” were from the same website, which can be somewhat limiting). Our search for Boston Condos in Cuil displayed us as the “featured article” in the magazine style search results.

Cuil Search Engine

Google still remains king of the search engines, the speed of the engine, and the accuracy of the results, especially on long-tail searches (search phrases that are very specific in nature, Boston 285 Columbus Lofts Roofdeck, for instance), is unmatched. Nonetheless, Google’s reaction to the new entrants is positive, they encourage innovation in the industry, and by using a combination of search engines, including the new ones described here, offers a more robust search environment.

New Mobile Phone Real Estate Technology

You have perhaps heard about, or seen, several of the various technologies that listing agents use in order to disseminate information about their listing at the street level. Meaning, on the actual for sale sign will be either a phone number that you can call and get a real-time verbal tour of the home, or perhaps it’s a radio station that you tune your car radio to in order to hear more facts about the home. XAP Realty is taking things to the next level with a new technology based on the use of mobile phone text messaging capabilities.

Text messaging is becoming both a noun and a verb (similar to that of Google), and XAP Realty of Los Angeles, CA has launched a new patent pending mobile phone technology that offers both Buyers and Realtors a unique and innovative way to gather and disseminate information, respectively. Simply put, a Buyer sends a text message to a number on a for sale sign, and they will receive detailed listing information back on their phone instantly.

We sat down with XAP’s Vice President of Sales to hear a little bit more about their new offering.

Boston Condo Blog: What distinguishes your service from virtual tours that you call into at a particular phone number, or tune your car radio to?

XAP Realty: There are two major factors that separate us from other virtual tours.

  1. XAP Realty is meant for individuals who are driving or walking by, and therefore don’t want to spend 2-5 minutes listening to a hotline.
  2. XAP Realty’s solution allows Buyers to save information. Our service allows Buyers to not only save the information instantly, but the information can also be sent to anyone whom the Buyer is conferring with regarding the property (i.e. their Buyer’s Agent).

Boston Condo Blog: Will you be expanding into the Boston market?

XAP Realty: Yes, we do plan on expanding to Boston in the near future. We actually have staff that are Boston University alumni.