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18 Mar 2015

What an estate agent website tells you about the estate agent

Author: Peter Loverdos

Website of the Year AwardPeter Loverdos, Group Operations Director at Romans, knows a thing or two about the value a good estate agency’s website offers its customers. has been recognised as the best estate website in the UK on numerous occasions and receives close to 90,000 unique visitors every month. Here he shares his tips about what a good property website should offer and what sellers and landlords should be asking estate agents about their online marketing.

Nearly 80% of all buyers’ searches start online and the first thing to be aware of when selling or letting your property is that you are entering a very competitive market. Therefore, your selection of estate agent is very important. Fortunately you can gain much insight into the quality, reactiveness and professionalism of an estate agent by looking carefully at their website.

First impressions

Websites are like houses, good ones have kerb appeal! Kerb appeal attracts interest from the right buyers and tenants. A well designed website, with the right balance of images, content and colour will encourage interested buyers and sellers to come back on a regular basis.

Check the website is up to date; if an agent won’t keep their website up to date with new properties and market commentary, how can you be sure they’ll keep you up to date?

Think like a buyer or a tenant

If you’re selling, it’s the buyer’s attention that you want your property to capture. If you’re a landlord, it’s the tenant’s. When looking at the websites, think like your customer.

Check it is easy to search for properties. Most websites have a good search facility; it should be one of the first things you see at the top of the page and very simple to use. After your initial search you should be able to drill down by entering more specific search criteria, for example a narrower search area or an interactive map.

A picture speaks a million words

“We’ve done the research,” comments Peter, “and our findings are the same as the industry experts – between 80-85% of people say images are the most important thing when looking for a property online, and larger photographs generate more interest.  With modern website technology and improving broadband speeds, there should be no reason why an agency website does not use large photographs, particularly as it is what the buyer wants, so it is in your interest, as the seller."

Professional photography

Things have moved on from the small images of a few years back, good agents are now taking very high quality images and displaying them in 16x9 or larger formats. They are also taking better quality photographs, not just the resolution, but the composition too. A good photograph can’t make a bad room look good, but a bad photograph can definitely make a good room look bad. Gone are the days of agents using a ‘point-and-click’ camera; agents who understand their customers are training their staff on how to use professional SLRs to compose a good quality photograph using the shape of the room and the light available.

It’s one of your most valuable assets that you are selling, so make sure the estate agent uses modern photography techniques to showcase it.

Feefo Gold Trusted MerchantDon’t take their word for it

Customer testimonials are an important part in helping people decide which agent to appoint. Check the agent is publishing testimonials on their website in both video and written format preferably sourced and compiled by a credible, independent company. The most transparent agents will show the good and the bad. In this day and age it is very simple to collate and post online reviews.

Floor plans – don’t overlook their importance

Most properties should have floor plans, but like everything else, they have become more sophisticated. Modern floor plans show so much more than just the layout of the property; they show room size in imperial and metric, orientation and total floor area. Some even link to images of the rooms.

“Floor plans are as important to tenants as they are to buyers” comments Peter.

It’s the number of web visitors that count – but they’re not easy to get

Why ask an agent to market your home if no-one visits their website? has over 150,000 visits to it every month, of which 90,000 are unique visitors. Peter adds: “We put a lot of time and effort into the content on our website and how we market it to generate good quality visitors for the benefit of our sellers and landlords.”  

Ask your estate agent what they do to attract buyers and tenants to its website and how many visit each a month.

Go mobile

It sounds obvious but check that your agent has a mobile-friendly website. That doesn’t mean a desktop website that just replicates on a mobile phone, it means a website that is adapted to work to a mobile phone’s screen size, is fast to download and is designed to give you only the information that you require while on the move.

The number of people accessing the internet via a mobile device or tablet has overtaken those using a desktop. Test different estate agent’s websites on your mobile to see how your property will be displayed to the majority of internet users.

Does the website engage and educate its visitors?

Modern estate agent’s websites needs to offer more than just a property search; they need to encourage people to come back. Good agents will do this by providing engaging, up to date information on the local property market, interest rates, property predictions, local planning, and through authoritative market comment. You can be sure that agents who do this well online will be good at talking to local buyers and tenants.

Things to look out for include:

  • Up to date news articles
  • Local market commentary, including things like the activity in the local property market, local planning, government initiatives and legislation
  • Insights into the market activity including interest rates, the Mortgage Market Review and Stamp Duty reforms
  • Information on local demographics

Online vs traditional – you need both

The website should be an integral part of the agency’s operations, and should be so much more than a medium to advertise properties for sale and let. 

If the agency has a form inviting a buyer to book a viewing online, test their response levels yourself; try filling it out after hours, say at 7:30pm, because that’s when many buyers and tenants are browsing websites and contacting agents electronically. The speed and type of response you experience will be very similar to what your potential buyer or tenant will experience, and in this competitive market, you want it to be a good one.

And don’t forget to have a look at the agency’s offices – we live in a hybrid world where online and offline should not be separate, they should complement each other, and that is no different when it comes to selling or letting, what is in most cases, your most valuable asset!

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