Building a Real Estate Website in WordPress – Part 1

Introducing IDX+, the best WordPress real estate plugin

I am designing and creating a real estate website with WordPress, and I’m going to be writing a few articles that detail how it’s done.  This article will get you started — please leave feedback with any questions or topic requests for the next installment. Real estate using WordPress Part 2 is now available!

A little background — why use WordPress?

I’m working with a Denver company on a real estate website. Their goal is to showcase their listings in an easy-to-update CMS.

I’ve worked with Open-Realty, and — to say it bluntly — it’s a huge pain in the ass.  When you scratch the surface of OR, you begin to realize how cobbled together it is. Customizing the code to work as it should requires a steep learning curve.  The templates are relatively simple to work with, but the administration section is horrible.  The Open Realty user experience is just awful.

WordPress is my CMS of choice currently, and it’s so easy to develop for that I recommend it to many of my clients.

Starting off in WordPress real estate websites

So the obvious first step is this: real estate websites have a LOT of information on them.

Real Estate websites have this basic content:

(Alphabetized, none-the-less!)

  • Address
  • Basement type
  • Basement finished %
  • Bathrooms
  • 1/2 Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Brochure (PDF)
  • Car Storage Type
  • # of Car Storage
  • City
  • Construction Type
  • County
  • Country
  • Latitude
  • Longitude
  • Lot Size
  • MLS #
  • Neighborhood Name & Website
  • HOA Fees
  • HOA Includes
  • Price
  • Roofing Materials
  • Schools
    • High School Name & Website
    • Middle School Name & Website
    • Elementary School Name & Website
  • Status of Listing (Sold/Under Construction/Pending/Active)
  • Square Feet
  • Taxes
  • Utilities (Avg.)
  • Year Built
  • Zip Code

It would be tough to ask your client to create Custom Fields manually for each listing for each one of those items.

Using Custom Fields for Real Estate in WordPress

UPDATE:
I have updated this tutorial without using Freshpost
(now Flutter). It’s way too complex. Instead, use the More Fields plugin.

More Fields is essentially a WordPress plugin that allows you to define custom sets of Custom Fields to be included in a post.

By using More Fields, it’s simple to create an administration template for creating a new listing.  Just set up the fields above, and then use More Fields’ super-simple code (ex: meta('zip code'); to insert that information into your template.

Planning your Real Estate website in WordPress

Once you’ve got the capabilities provided by FreshPost, a WordPress real estate website is more realistic, and less daunting.

The next phase is planning. Realty websites are an interesting challenge because users are going to be interested in finding a listing many different ways — and your client will want to be SEO friendly for searches about the neighborhoods they work in.

Structuring the website: flexibility is key

It’s important that the website will be able to handle listings in different counties, zip codes, cities, and potentially states. As such, create a category structure that mirrors real life.

For example, let’s have the following sample listings:

  1. In Denver, Colorado’s Cherry Creek neighborhood – Zip code: 80023
  2. In Littleton, Colorado (a suburb of Denver, CO) – Zip code: 80211
  3. In Albuquerque, NM’s Sandia Heights neighborhood – Zip code: 87101
The website may be structured like so:

Categories

  • USA
    • Colorado
      • Denver
        • Cherry Creek
      • Littleton
    • New Mexico
      • Albuquerque
        • Sandia Heights
  • ZIP Codes
    • 80023
    • 80211
    • 87101

There are many ways of setting up the categories; you could have a Neighborhoods parent, rather than having the city as the parent.  The point is that once you set up categories, you can properly sort the listings.

Once basic capabilities are set up…

Now that you can have tons of Custom Fields with More Fields, and have set up hierarchal category structure, you’re able to set up a basic Real Estate website.

Some possible next steps:

  • Use the Category Description to create SEO-friendly Neighborhood and City pages
  • Download and install a plugin that lets you search Custom Fields, allowing users to actually search all your listing data
  • Further optimize your site for search — write articles for each of your neighborhoods and have the articles displayed above your Multiple Listings (archives) view; write about events, local restaurants, etc. to build up a large amount of relevant information. (On a Single listing page, you could dynamically add those articles about the neighborhood)

So, as you can see, using WordPress as a Real Estate CMS makes a lot of sense, and has fewer barriers than you might expect.

As my project continues, I will write another article detailing the process of creating the WordPress real estate website.

Please let me know if you have questions or requests!

If you’re having trouble making WordPress work for your RE website, please let me know in the comments — I’ll try to answer your questions.

What topics do you want the next WordPress Real Estate article to cover?

Real estate using WordPress Part 2 is now available!

Author: Zack Katz

Zack Katz is the President of Katz Web Services and the developer of WordPress plugins with over 700,000 downloads. He lives in Southwest Colorado with his wife and two cats.

48 thoughts on “Building a Real Estate Website in WordPress – Part 1”

  1. Take a look at the Sitemap generator plugin from Dagon Design. It adds an additional navigation otion for your site. It’s not a sitemap you submit to Google or so, but rather something a visitor can use to navigate the website.

  2. Are you suggesting using a sitemap to navigate listings, or cities and neighborhoods?

    I’ve used that plugin in the past; it does a nice job of collecting site content.

  3. Have you tried ExpressionEngine? There’s a lot of buzz about it but once I tried it I was kinda disappointed, it’s the biggest pain in the ass CMS I’ve seen. I’m talking about setting it up (templates and stuff). I should switch to WordPress.

  4. Hi Alex,
    I remember when it seemed like all the “biggies” were using ExpressionEngine, but the only one I can remember is Veerle.
    It seems less intuitive than WordPress.

    When I discovered WordPress, it was a breath of fresh air; the WordPress motto is “Code is Poetry,” and when you dive deeper into the structure of the platform, you realize how true it is.

    I would definitely recommend you try out WordPress; it’s wonderful to develop for, and templates are super-easy to make.

    This article only begins to show the flexibility of the WordPress platform.

  5. Zack,

    I’ve been working on a package with a theme (wp-magazine.com) & plugins for realtors, etc.

    I’m currently setting it up so that realtors can upload 3 (raw or jpg) fisheye photos and have the server stitch those into a high-quality virtual tour.

    This could save a realtor some money in paying someone to do it for them or key fees like ipix…

    Lots of upside to doing it this way..

    Karl

  6. Zack, I didn’t dig into either code yet but you’re right about being intuitive. Also, EE’s down side IMO is their manuals. Materials on their site are poorly structured.

  7. @ Karl — There are lots of cool features you can add to a default install of WordPress to make it flashy. One recommendation: pare down the CSS & JS files that come with multiple plugins. Instead, combine them as one file. This will save you a considerable amount of load time.

    @ Alex — The WordPressDocumentation is quite thorough, and if you have a question, you can generally find your answer searching Google.

    The WordPress Plugin directory is quite large and active. If you’re interested in expanding your site’s functionality, you’ll most likely be able to find the feature you’re looking for there.

  8. Hi Zack,

    I am very interested in using wordpress for Realtor sites (as well as a CMS and Yahoo style directory). I have been researching all three. Your site is the first with actual help for a realty site. . . thanks.

    I too have used open-realty . . . it is kinda a pain, but it does work. I am attracted to WordPress for the SEO, and I agree ease of use is impressive.

    I have also built a few sites with Joomla (currently working on another with 1.5). It has a tough learning curve but many plug-ins.

    How are you handling pictures on the WP realtor site?

  9. @ Ken –
    I’m glad you found this article helpful. I’m getting ready to talk about Part 2, which is how I’ve been handling the picture gallery.

    Here’s a hint: for the gallery, I’m using a modified version of EasyPermGals and incorporating it with a modified version of jCarousel Lite. That’s coming up on Part 2!

    Open Realty’s templating system is very frustrating, and when you start looking at the code, you wonder who the heck created it. Not very elegant, which WordPress is. Joomla is a better platform than Open Realty, but it’s so “big” that it’s hard for me (let alone my clients) to use for a basic real estate website.

  10. Part 2 is coming real soon — I’m launching the WordPress real estate website on/before the 28th of June May (I wish it was in June!), so give me a little bit to clean up the code, write the articles, and share it with you all.

  11. This is great…. keen to read part 2… I am currently attempting something similar – and although I am slowly getting my head around all the various listing configurations and their backend management… It is the management of different user’s which has me a bit baffled. ie. I want different users to see different versions of the admin interface (this might be easy, I just have never had to do it)… anyway, great article..

    Cheers

  12. Hi Zack,
    Thanks for your response… I got the role manager plugin up and running shortly after posting that comment… But now I am up to my neck in the Fresh Post plugin, and while it is quite powerful – the styling leaves quite a bit to be desired. One particularly frustrating point is the default ‘FreshPage Panel’ heading for every custom field you create, instead of using the heading you define when creating a new custom field…?

  13. I am an agent, and just determined to do my site all by myself, and to use WordPress. I could do it all freehand in html, but really would take away from the ease of updating (I HOPE) and the SEO. My main confision is also wrapping my head around all the WordPress backend, and presentation. So I too am looking forward to the future parts of this article.

  14. Reall nice solution, allthout I think that the FreshPost plug-in that is now called Flutter is a little overkill for such usage and could be done better with a custom plugin that added the required fields. Flutter is like lego…

  15. Hi, im trying to use wordpress to make my RE website, your post really help me but, im really having troubles using Freshpost (actually flutter) can you make a tutorial how to use flutter? sorry for my english…

  16. Hi am following your steps and downloaded freshpost/flutter… I have the custom fields all set up but need to “call” them using: , where do I place that line of code?

  17. Hi Zack, that’s a whole bunch of useful relevent posts. I am rebuilding PropertyNow and would love your input.

    I’m just about convinced to leave Open Realty and Joomla, although they are finally improving. I think your posts have swayed me a little more towards WP. Thanks.

  18. The great real estate plugin is a nice idea, but is lacking some basic functionality and style. We need a single plugin that will do all the work, updated and maintained. I am actually thinking of taking this task on…

  19. This must be only for wordpress.org….I have already started one with .com and am thinking baout switching it to self hosted.

  20. Pingback: WordPress for Real Estate Agents « Web Manager Solutions
  21. I find it difficult to believe that you have even a basic understanding of open realty and listings management. OR can be a pain if the butt if you try to duplicate wordpress features in it just as WP is a pain in the butt when you try to re-invent the listings management wheel. It is an easy task to make the two work together to get the benefit of wordpress and listings management. There are 3 basis functions to listing management: search, listings results and listing details and a b backend to maintain them. With OR adding, editing and managing listings is intuitive and if you get stuck there is an active support forum where you can get help. How do you support your listings management? Try running an IDX with 50,000 listings.

    You are offering a primitive solution for a highly competitive industry.

  22. I’ve never heard anyone say Open-Realty is worse than what is available currently on WP. Hell, I used Joomla just to use O-R. What’s the skinny on the current WP real estate plugins? Are they any better than a year ago? What’s changed with IDX/MLS integration?

  23. So are you getting your data from the Metrolist IDX feed.

    I’ll bet you 10 bucks I can design a better real estate website than you. I’m using WordPress only problem with it right now is someone developed a constant contact plug in that is jerking up my whole site.

  24. IDX solutions are more abundant as plugins now and really help with relevant content for agents. WP is a great resource for the do-it-your-self agent!

  25. The great placement is here.whom i like much and more..because this is a superb and marvelous topic for blogging.and i like it much and more quickly.could you people more share me and i will back to you as soon as possible….
    thanks for sharing with us…….

    Mortgage Rates Today

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *