How much to build a (Real Estate) website?

for sale photo

Photo by Flickr user Matt_Lodi

In one of the Facebook groups for WordPress developers I follow someone asked: “Question what is the average charge or cost to a customer to build them a real estate web site?”  And someone answered: “Anywhere from $1500 to $100,000.”  That was not a flippant answer.  Here’s why.

I happen to be working on this question at the moment. I’ve been approached by a senior Realtor who’s mentoring younger ones. He’s asked if I could put together a reasonably priced package for new Realtors with a simple, streamlined plan and timeline.  Not cheap, not cookie-cutter, but not high-stress for the Realtor either.

I can tell you that the base price for a five page site with standard back-end provisioning would be cheeeeep!  You can build a five-page site in about the same time it takes to put together an IKEA Billy bookshelf!

The trick for a website, like the trick with a book shelf, isn’t how you put it together, it’s what you put IN it.

Photos. Writing. Testimonials. Service area marketing and market research. A carefully curated portfolio of properties sold (to appeal to sellers) and clear message of value, trust, and differentiation (not properties!) to get buyers to call.

That second part?  Knowing and gathering what to put in the website?  That part ISN’T cheap. At all!  But unless there are fewer than maybe 10 Realtors in a town, if you don’t have that second part then the cheapest ThemeForest demo-ware site (with the typical full front-page MLS/IDX listings to send your visitors to other brokers’ listings!) is just gonna waste your time and the Realtor’s time and money.

I’m going to say the actual WordPress + theme + plugin component should be no more than a third and maybe only a fifth of the total cost compared to market research, written content with clear calls to action, graphic design and elements acquisition, business coaching, and especially photography, and videography.  And that’s just the stuff that has to happen before the site goes online — a successful Realtor’s site will need consistent content updates as the market changes, portfolio updates, and new blog posts to help capture seasonal, regional, and economic changes in their market.

A multi-agent real-estate company site is a different question. MLS/IDX makes sense for that, for instance. But unless it’s for a seriously small town in a pretty depressed market you wouldn’t use a ThemeForest theme for that either — you’d be talking real money!

That’s why the first comment on that Facebook group isn’t as flippant as it sounds…

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David Innes, RealBasics.com

I've been building and maintaining websites since 1997 and building and supporting similar hypertext-driven software since 1987. I've done maintenance, support, and maintenance for physical and digital systems since 1981.