If you’re looking for an easy and convenient way to get your real estate website up and running, you’ve got options. The industry is flooded with tons of website builders for you to choose from; finding what product suits you best, comes down to a matter of time.
We’ve sifted through those options for you and handpicked the most solid website builders that we believe can benefit your business.
Keep reading for a detailed review and comparison of what we believe are the top 3 website builders in the industry. Three products that offer you reliability, convenience, and bang for every buck you spend.
Ideal Real Estate Website Builder: Zillow Websites
Why Zillow Gets The Highest Recommendation
Zillow embodies these four words ‘value for the price’. Its ease-of-use makes it great for agents across the board, whether you have experience developing a website or not. It also costs $10/month. Pair that with the fact that it’s free for premier Zillow Agents and you’ve got a pretty sweet deal on your hands.
Zillow allows users to capture leads on any page they choose. You can add calculators, walk scores and include specific MLS listings wherever you see fit.
Their websites are built on a WordPress platform, with preconfigured pages and are designed to spare you any headaches. They include widgets, calculators, maps, walk scores and the list goes on.
All that’s required of you is to choose your template and decide what you need on each page. Integrate your MLS and you’re ready for business.
You are guaranteed professional aesthetics for your website, ideal for client engagement. And at $10/month the price is hard to beat.
Things You Should Know
While we believe that Zillow is more or less the ideal website builder, there are things you’ll want to know in order to determine if it’s right for you. Zillow is more customizable compared to builders like Placester. But compared to WebsiteBox, its customization is lacking.
You can’t simply drag and drop widgets anywhere on a page, but you’re free to edit colors, fonts, and information. So you have control over the aesthetic and feel of your page, and thus, how clients react to your business.
Zillow’s customer support, though, could be a cause for concern. Phone support is a ghost town, and the email and live chat aren’t the most reliable.
Detailed Comparisons: Pricing
Placester is easily the least economical choice here. On the other hand, it offers the highest site quality and the most features for your money. Zillow and WebsiteBox are closer in pricing, with Zillow being slightly more affordable.
Zillow’s $10/month is a pretty straightforward deal. Best of all, Zillow premier agents (with an advertising plan) get their sites practically free. First-time users get their domain name at no cost. However, you get charged an additional $20/year afterwards.
Here’s what they mean.
When you subscribe to their lowest plan, all you get is a decent looking site that displays your information. In other words, you lack a lot of the functionality essential for running your business.
If you’re interested in Placester, but the $100/month plan is outside your budget, we’d suggest you start out with the $75/month deal. That way you have more functionality without subscribing to a plan that puts pressure on your pockets.
This is also useful if you CAN afford the $100/month plan but you just aren’t ready to make that kind of commitment as yet.
There are add-ons that can run you the same $99 as the startup fee. For example, if you want the option of blogging on your site that’s a one-time upcharge of $99. Forced lead capture will cost you the same.
A free domain name is not included in the package. You’ll have to rely on a third party provider to get one—or purchase one through WebsiteBox at $15/year—which isn’t a bad deal.
Check out more pricing details here.
When building your real estate website, it’s important to consider what features matter to you the most. Consider choosing a website builder that can help you achieve your goals with as little hassle as possible.
Whether Zillow, Placester, or WebsiteBox, it’s hard to go wrong. It comes down to what features best suit your specific needs.
Let’s take a closer look at their features:
- An effective way to capture leads – Zillow provides you with lead capture forms for any page you choose. Leads are automatically added to your contact list. Also, you can easily transfer your list to a provider of your choice.
- Elements that display locations you are selling in – This is one of the areas that Zillow shines. They make this a breeze and all you have to do is enter the ZIP code of a particular location. Potential clients will be given the whole nine: pictures of the neighborhood, school info, market details, walk score etc. These widgets can be arranged on whichever page, and in whatever order you want.
- Integrate your MLS (IDX provider) – Zillow’s MLS/IDX integrator is a great asset. It allows you to feature your listings on your site automatically, which is something users will appreciate. Zillow also enables you to include IDX specific searches.
It doesn’t stop there with Zillow. There are tons of other widgets you can make use of:
- Mortgage calculators
- Community event board
- Open house board
- Listing slideshows
- Recent blog posts
- Zillow reviews
- Recent Twitter posts etc.
Zillow does offer you many features. But it’s not likely to overwhelm you with options, which makes it ideal for agents who are looking for a straightforward website builder that helps their business grow.
You can capture leads either actively or passively. Any lead captured gets ported to a lead management system where you have even more control, like assigning tasks and writing notes. Essentially, you can track leads with utmost efficiency.
Placester’s $75/month plan is inclusive of automated email marketing. Of course, you can upgrade to their $125/month plan to gain access to:
- Map based search function
- IDX listing
- Advanced lead capture etc.
Their $300/month plan (their highest plan) gives you automated advertising paired with $500 – $1500 in free advertising credit.
WebsiteBox doesn’t offer a bad deal either. They offer everything that Zillow does—with a little something extra on the side. Namely, an email marketing system that allows you to engage clients with up to 1000 emails.
Its package is inclusive of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Keep in mind that some features that it shares with Zillow (like blogging) come at a one-time upcharge of $99.
Available add-ons include:
- An SEO app that helps you rank better in Google and other search engines
- Forced lead capture
- Mobile notifications
- QR code integrator
- Prints app
Like I said, the possibilities are nearly endless. Just remember that these add-ons each come with a price tag.
This is where Zillow, once again, dominates. Placester offers similar convenience and user friendliness, but Zillow combines that with superior customizability. WebsiteBox doesn’t do a terrible job at this, but its interface is less refined. As a result, it offers less of an intuitive user experience.
Let’s get into the details:
Users will appreciate the tab displays along the left-hand side of the screen; these enable you to change information on your site. For instance, if you want to add a post, all you need to do is select the ‘Posts’ tab then click ‘Add New’.
Zillow is a website builder that does all the hard work for its users. This is a huge help, as it allows agents to focus on the service their offering as opposed to the technicalities that come with web development.
You get access to over 30 widgets specific to your niche. Feel free to add them to any page in a matter of seconds. Basically, you can set up your real estate website in roughly 30 minutes with as few hiccups as possible.
Any changes needed, whether it’s info or even your template, can be made in a breeze.
Placester offers a similar deal where ease-of-use is concerned. So you can have your site up and running pretty quickly. Their templates are well thought out, and the setup process is next to seamless.
With tons of pre-populated structures, you are essentially tasked with simple things like editing your logo, MLS listing content, your name, colors etc.
You have the option of choosing what search forms to go with—whether basic or advanced. Admittedly, the themes aren’t exactly diverse, but they do look great.
Setting up your website is simple. And once you’ve gotten started, you can expect an intuitive experience when it comes to managing content, leads — or what have you.
The dashboard is a Godsend because it keeps things simple and intuitive. Also, there are tons of tutorials to help out if you get lost for whatever reason.
The problem comes in when you consider your options for customization. You don’t have many.
I mentioned this before—setting up your site through WebsiteBox isn’t rocket science. However, when you compare the experience to its competitors (namely Zillow and Placester), you’ll find the interface to be less intuitive and a bit on the cluttered side.
Unlike the other website builders, WebsiteBox’s setup has more in common with a document software. While I’m huge fan of that kind of software, when it comes to website building, my taste lies elsewhere.
This isn’t to say WebsiteBox’s setup won’t work for other people.
And on the bright side, you do have a lot of control here. Feel free to:
- Change layouts
- Change themes
- Edit the number of columns
- Change the colors
- Edit your logos
- Change your font.
Among other things you’ll love.
Customer support can make or break a business. Clients want to feel like they’re appreciated, or that companies care enough about their product and consumer base to help out when needed.
I’ve had instances in life, where I would go with one company over another on the strength of their customer support alone. Sometimes, that company didn’t even have the better product. But the way they conducted business was aligned with my standards and so I felt comfortable.
Naturally, the same goes for real estate website builders. You don’t want to just build a great site, you want to choose a provider who cares that you’re supporting them, and gives you the feeling that they care about your business.
Placester takes this one home easily. But let’s get into the ‘why’:
Zillow has a pretty straightforward builder, so the self-help portal will do most people justice. In the event that you DO need to get in touch with another human being, things might get a bit tricky. It’s not that they don’t have email or live chat support. It’s just that you’ll have to wait 24 hours or so to hear anything back.
To make things worse, there is no 24-hour support. Zillow offers a great product—but depending on your reasons for contacting them, the late responses can be disheartening.
You can actually get them on the phone for one, and their service is (generally) through the roof. Placester is also reliable via email or customer portal/ticket.
WebsiteBox is available through live chat, phone, email, or customer support portals. To be frank, a few customers found chat support to be a bit on the slow side. However, agents are generally considered to be informative, concise and helpful.
By the way, priority phone support comes at a charge of $99.
Domains and Templates
In the template department, Placester certainly dishes out the highest quality. On the flip side, they offer the least customization. In terms of quality, Zillow is the runner-up with WebsiteBox trying to keep up the pace.
Placester’s template quality is undeniable, but there are other factors that make Zillow the ideal choice for your business. Consider that working through Zillow you have access to a free custom domain with whatever plan you choose.
Builders like WebsiteBox require you to pay $15.99/year for this service. Another option is to connect one through a third party provider. While Placester requires users to connect a domain from another site.
Let’s get into some more details:
Users have 12 main templates to choose from, each of them offering great quality for the price. You can select a main image or image slider for pages. Widgets can easily be added to the left or right columns below every page. You can drag widgets and drop them as you see fit, or even add them to the footer.
Placester doesn’t offer much by way of variety, especially compared to Zillow where users are given 12 main templates. Unlike, Zillow, Placester offers half as much. They do, however, sort of make up for it with style and overall quality.
Many users will feel the need to make their site reflect their brand (naturally). For that reason, the limitations that come with Placester run the risk of sticking out like a sore thumb. Good news is – Placester’s interface isn’t likely to scare users away. You can create a basic, and professional looking site in under 30 minutes. The same can be said of Zillow.
WebsiteBox doesn’t create ‘terrible’ templates by any means. Let’s just say when they are put up against the competition, they don’t exactly shine. Personally, most of their options aren’t my thing—but that isn’t to say you can’t use their platform to build the site of your dreams.
WebsiteBox is still in business for a reason. Their available templates are more than sufficient for most agents. Besides, when you factor in the price, things do work more in their favor.
With over 400 MLS directories, Zillow has the slight edge over Placester in terms of variety. When it comes to states and what directories are available, Zillow stomps the competition flat. For instance, in states like Indiana, Zillow has over 19 MLS integrations. While Placester has only 10 and WebsiteBox comes in last with 3.
If we look at a state like California, the gaps are even wider, where Zillow has over 65 MLS integrations. Compare that to Placester’s 41 and WebsiteBox’s 32 and the winner is undeniable.
There are some cases where Zillow assumes the backburner. In New York, Placester tops the list with 20 real-estate partners, which is more impressive than Zillow’s 18 and WebsiteBox’s 15.
When it’s all said and done, though, Zillow is the clear-cut champion of MLS/IDX systems.
Placester is well connected with over 420 MLS/IDX partners. Whether a major city or rural area, you won’t have a cause for concern working through Placester. In some cases, you may need to create a new integration. You can get this done by submitting a request to Placester, which is simple enough in theory.
The process, however, can take a while.
WebsiteBox, as you’ve probably gathered, has the least amount of MLS directories. You will find it more reliable as it pertains to well-populated cities. The more rural, the more complicated it will be finding the right integration.
However, this site still has some tricks up its sleeve. Let’s have a look at listing syndication.
What is Listing Syndication? This is when a website provider automatically publishes listings on your site to other real estate websites. Here you’ll find that WebsiteBox dominates the competition. It syndicates with over 14 other real estate listing sites, whereas Zillow only syndicates with one.
Placester, unlike the other two, does not syndicate with any other real estate sites.
SEO Friendly Designs: Zillow, Placester, WebsiteBox
Here is where all three sites fall under one umbrella. No matter what site you go with, you can edit your meta tags and page descriptions, which is protocol for proper SEO practices. All three are mobile responsive, which means their interfaces are equally convenient and easily navigated on visitors’ mobile devices.
Mobile responsiveness is invaluable, as more users now access the internet from their mobile phones, tablets, etc.
WebsiteBox has an add-on (at an upcharge of $99 of course) that helps your SEO rank with certain tools and techniques.
Of all three sites, Placester offers the most third-party integrations. However, who they integrate with is no longer accessible, as that list is not available online. If you have questions about integration, we’d suggest you contact customer support and make your inquiries.
WebsiteBox does not support integrations, due to having its own in-house add-ons.
Pros & Cons
- Great value for the price
- A variety of templates with high quality and satisfactory customization
- Ease-of-use, the self-help portal will be enough for most people
- SEO friendly and responsive designs
- Over 400 directories
While we believe Zillow is the ideal builder for your real estate website, that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Here are some things that users may find a bit off-putting about Zillow:
- No outside integrations
- No 24-hour support
- Near seamless user experience (even for non-techy users)
- Over 420 MLS partners
- SEO friendly (responsiveness, meta tags, etc.)
- High quality templates
- Limited customization for templates
- No 24-hour support
- No annual or ongoing fees
- Syndicates with over 14 other real estate websites (Zillow, Oodle, Trulia, Yahoo Real Estate etc.)
- SEO friendly (offers $99 add-on to help with SEO rank)
- Not many MLS directories compared to competition
- Templates don’t have the ‘best’ quality compared to competition
- No 24-hour support
When choosing the site that’s best for your business, try to consider the goals you need to achieve. Think of what website builder can best help you reach those goals while meeting your own personal style.
Zillow is great for its many templates to choose from. Not to mention the quality and level of customization available to agents. Placester offers just as seamless a user experience and is well connected with over 420 MLS partners. WebsiteBox doesn’t quite stack up in terms of available templates and template quality—but makes up for it when it comes to Listing Syndication and SEO tools to help users rank better in search engines. It also syndicates with a number of real estate websites, unlike its competition.