Real estate websites are popping up all over the internet so when will you get on the boat? I hope before it’s too late. CNN and CNBC talk about the Real Estate market in a recession every day and how it probably won’t come out for another year or so. There is no better day than today to get off your butt and create a profitable real estate site for your business. Whether you are an agent, realtor, broker or landlord, you need to have a site for your business in order to compete and succeed. Below you will find five steps to a profitable real estate website.If you have any questions, please feel free to ask by following the link to my website in the author resource box at the bottom of this article.1. Real Estate Website Design: The design of your real estate website should be simple, straight forward and logical. You will basically want to spoon feed information to your visitors. You will have less than 10 seconds to capture your visitor’s attention and keep them from clicking that nasty back button. If you don’t do this, your visitors will quickly realize that your site isn’t worth their time and they will click off of it just as quickly as they clicked on to it. So, how do you do this? I suggest starting with a blank slate. Either hire a professional website designer & developer to do the project for you (PLEASE DO NOT OUTSOURCE YOUR PROJECT OUT OF THE COUNTRY) or take on the project yourself. It might be a cost efficient way to produce your website, but you are hurting American jobs in the long run – one of the reasons why real estate in America is in a recession. Real estate web design is not a complicated task because it is basic and straight forward. I recommend using a site design that is professional, modern, clean, organized and classy. These are qualities that the average house buyer would probably like to see in their new home, so why not have them in your website? A good website design will consist of intuitive navigation, organized content/copy and use of professional images of happy people smiling.2. Real Estate Domain Names: Choosing a domain name may be one of the easiest tasks and it may be one of your most difficult tasks at the same time. Consider hiring a professional website design company such as MJM Design in Cleveland, Ohio (Google MJM Design Cleveland) to pick out a quality domain name for your real estate website. Choosing a catchy domain name will help draw in visitors and we all know it, it’s a fundamental truth, the more visitors the more business you will bring in. It’s like fishing, if there’s no fish why put your hook in the water in the first place? Real estate domain names are sometimes hard to get because they are registered already. If you realize that the domain name that you absolutely must have is already registered, you can try contacting the owner of the domain name. How you ask? Well you would use a service called WhoIs which tells you the name, address, phone number and sometimes even the email address of the website owner. Otherwise, you might try GoDaddy’s Back Order service where GoDaddy will wait until the domain name is about to expire then try to register it immediately. This is most likely only effective if the domain name is about to expire which WhoIs will also tell you the date to.3. Real Estate Website Hosting: Every site needs hosting, regardless if its eBay, Amazon or your website. Real estate web hosting is not a type of website hosting only created for real estate oriented websites. Website hosting accounts can be purchased from my company for as little as $240.00 per year which includes storage, unlimited email access, unlimited email accounts and unlimited databases. Real estate hosting allows you to link your Domain Name to your website. This means that when someone types into their web browser, http://www.yourrealestatewebsite.com it will take them directly to your site on your website hosting account.4. Dynamic or Static Website Content?: This is a question of usability and interaction of your website with its visitors. Will your real estate design require a database to showcase available properties or apartments for rent? If so, then your website will be a dynamic website which pulls information from a database stored on your site hosting account. I recommend a PHP real estate script to run your website. These real estate scripts range in complexity from basic integration of a basic layout and table structure to a complex solution consisting of landlord contact forms, tell-a-friend forms, custom amenities list, Google Maps integration and more. Using a dynamic system also allows for easier updating as these systems usually consist of an administration panel which is protected by a secure username and password. The administration panel is where you will be able to login, navigate the categories of the website to change, modify and administrate different settings on your real estate website.5. Converting Visitors into Customers: This fifth and final step covers converting your real estate visitors into actual customers or leads. When someone visits your website, they are basically nothing to you – completely useless unless you can capture their information to contact them. You can track your traffic through statistics programs that your real estate hosting company will provide you with. If your hosting company doesn’t provide you with the appropriate advanced traffic tracking software, then its time to move on. The most common way of capturing your customer’s contact information is through the use of a Contact Us page. This page usually consists of an HTML form where the visitor can fill in their name, phone number, email address and a message and click Submit to email you right from the website. Most visitors don’t prefer this style of generic contact form and would much rather use a custom “Request a Free Consultation” or “Have Us Call You Back” form. This makes them feel special and let them think they are getting something for free. Implementing one of these custom forms will help you get leads from your new real estate website.I hope that the information contained in this article helped you understand the 5 basic steps to establishing a profitable real estate website and bringing a real return on your investment.
Many of the challenges we face in the real estate sector are merely a repeat of what we experienced in the late 80s. What no one is talking about is the tremendous opportunity we have to create over 360,000 new jobs in our struggling economy over the next 12 to 18 months.The domestic real estate industry represents $1.6 Trillion or 8.5% of the U.S.’s Gross Domestic Product. The global capital crisis is impacting all aspects of the real estate market including brokerage, development, asset management, lending, and the countless support industries to the real estate sector.Background InformationAs background, during the early 1980s, Congress granted the Savings and Loan (S&L) industry new powers. Among others, these powers included lower reserve requirements and the ability to expand lending products and invest in real estate ventures. It wasn’t long before Congress corrected this mistake and tightened regulations, but for many S&Ls, it was too late. In 1989, the Federal Government had to step in and bail out the S&Ls by forming the Resolution Trust Corporation (“RTC”). The RTC was charged with liquidating these financial institutions and disposing of failed real estate assets and mortgages from the S&L industry. By the time it all came to an end in 1995, 1,043 Institutions with more than $402 Billion in assets (much of it in commercial real estate loans) failed. This cost the United States taxpayer more than $153 Billion.During the bailout, the Federal Government spent over $400 Million in administrative costs that were not billed back to individual receiverships. According to the GAO, those bill-backs plus the administrative costs totaled over $87.9 Billion. Data is not available on specific breakdowns, but it is reasonable to assume that these bill-backs included all kinds of service fees to vendors including lawyers, property managers, brokers, and countless vendors supporting the property disposal activities.What we are experiencing today makes the S&L crisis pale by comparison. Guarantees and cash payments by the Federal Government now exceed $7.5 Trillion. So far in 2009, 45 financial institutions are now in the hands of the FDIC with assets exceeding $11.94 Billion as compared to 2008 where 25 banks failed with over $17 Billion in assets. Another 114 financial institutions have taken TARP money totaling over $168 Billion more. It has been estimated that hundreds of additional banks will fail over the next 12-18 months.At the same time, both commercial and residential real estate values continue to fall in many markets around the country. CAP rates in many markets for high quality investment product are up over 300 bps from levels of just six months ago. This increase alone wipes out any equity from commercial borrowers utilizing traditional leverage ratios. Coupling this fact with plunging tenant demand and falling lease rates means that even high quality real estate assets are in trouble.In the current real estate downturn, it is likely that commercial loan failures will follow a similar pattern as to the residential failures we are already seeing. Unlike the 1980s though, it is expected that the magnitude of failures we are anticipating will dwarf what we experienced during the RTC bailout.Although many lenders still have performing loans in terms of debt service payments, it is likely that many will find that their borrowers are in violation of loan covenants due to declining real estate values. How these lenders treat these activities on the commercial side remain to be seen. Federal regulations dictate that when a loan is in default, lenders must set aside cash reserve at substantially higher levels. With cash in short supply, lenders will be challenged with developing a strategy that may include utilizing TARP funds.OpportunityAfter researching past history and integrating current challenges, we believe that the opportunity exists to generate over 360,000 direct and indirect jobs to deal with the disposition of problem loans on both the commercial and residential side during this down cycle. These new job estimates are supported by the over $42 Billion in estimated fees that will be paid for services required to work through the problem loans and assets that will be paid for services required to work through the problem loans and assets that we anticipate will be coming back to financial institutions.Direct jobs are estimated to total over 145,000. Many of these jobs are high paying – including advisory, legal, property and asset management, appraisal, underwriting, and numerous other real estate-related jobs. Additionally, utilizing real estate industry multipliers, it is believed that another 210,000 jobs can be created that benefit from the spending generated by the direct job sector. These jobs include countless categories occupied by people who provide goods and services to the new consumers that the primary sector jobs will create.It is not known exactly how many jobs were created during the RTC crisis. We can only surmise by reviewing the available government data that a large portion of the $87.6 Billion in RTC administrative costs related to industry jobs. With the Trillions of dollars in hard cash outlays and government guarantees, it is difficult to imagine that the size of the real estate challenges will not be substantially larger than during the S&L crisis. Therefore, we feel our assumptions are likely conservative.Our hope this time, is that the Federal Government takes a different approach to disposing of the real estate assets that will be coming back to the lenders. Rather than creating new government entities and jobs to work through troubled assets (FDIC and a potential new government agency), it appears to make much more sense to take advantage of an experienced and existing distribution network (our existing banking systems) specifically those who have received TARP funding.As taxpayers we have already invested in TARP funds to banks plus the takeover costs of over 70 financial institutions in the last two years alone. With an estimated investment exceeding $200 Billion, It seems to make sense to utilize, that infrastructure, to work through the problem loans and assets. The $42 Billion in estimated fees will go a long way to stabilizing these banks and helping them repay some or all of the debt they have borrowed from the American taxpayer.Some may believe that Government has all the answers. But, there are many others who have faith in the ingenuity of American business and the entrepreneurs that are out there, working every day, creating private sector jobs. A wonderful opportunity exists for the Federal Government to take advantage of our existing real estate and banking infrastructure to put countless people back to work.