Are you looking to build a top-notch real estate listing directory? Check out this complete guide to help you get started!
The real estate industry is projected to generate up to $553.3 billion worth of revenue by 2024. This could mean a lot of profit for directories that collect property listings. Therefore, you might be looking to build one of the best houses for sale websites around.
Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone. By following this guide and using our Business Directory Plugin, you can easily create a top-tier real estate listing website.
In this article, we’ll cover a few key elements that you might want to include in your real estate listing directory. Then, we’ll walk you through five easy steps to create the real estate website of your dreams. Let’s dive right in!
What to include in your real estate website design
When you’re building a directory of homes for sale, it can be hard to know where to start. Different real estate websites can have unique needs. However, there are some elements that can be found in almost all of them.
The most important part is probably the houses themselves. However, you might find that most real estate listings contain too much information. This can make users feel overwhelmed. As such, we recommend that you focus on the most essential information in order to provide a more manageable user experience.
Navigation is another crucial part of your listing directory. If home buyers find it easy to submit and view listings on your directory, they're more likely to return to your site. Even a simple menu can be extremely helpful.
Furthermore, you may want to consider your website's design. A clean site can look more professional. This can in turn attract more visitors.
Designs don’t have to be complicated. Minimalist themes like the below example can be an effective low-investment option:
Finally, you may also want to consider monetizing your website. Charging fees for listing a home can be a simple way to support the day-to-day costs of running a professional site.
You could also retain a free plan. That way, you won’t be excluding potential users who may have tighter budgets.
How to build a real estate website (in 5 steps)
If you're ready to build your own real estate website, you can follow this guide to get started. However, make sure you have web hosting and a WordPress site up and running first. It doesn't have to be fancy– you'll be adding all the features you need during this walkthrough.
Step 1: Download and install Business Directory Plugin
In this step-by-step guide, we'll be using our own program: Business Directory Plugin. With tons of options and an easy-to-use interface, we've designed this tool to give you a better page-building experience:
Our free version is powerful, but you’ll need a premium plan for this walkthrough. Your choice of plan will probably depend on the modules you want included, so you may want to check these features before making a decision. Once you've made your purchase, you can install and activate the plugin.
Next, let's take a look at your modules. Go to Directory → Modules. You’ll then see your available add-ons:
If you see a module you’d like to use, simply click on the Install button to activate it. As a heads up, you won't need any specific modules for this walkthrough. However, feel free to browse and see if there are any that could be useful to you.
You can also add a directory theme for your real estate site. These themes don't affect your entire website. On the contrary, they'll only change your directory pages. As such, you may want to double-check that your chosen directory theme will work well with your WordPress theme.
To see your currently installed options, go to Directory → Themes:
As you can see, we only have the default options on our site. Either of these will be suitable for real estate listings.
However, you may also want to consider a premium option. While it’s not a necessity, directory themes can be a simple yet effective way to add professional design elements to your site.
Nevertheless, you can always add modules or directory themes to your home listings later on. Once you’ve completed all of these basic setup tasks, you can move on to building your directory.
Step 2: Create your directory pages, form fields, and categories
We'll start by building the page for your property listings. After adding our plugin to your site, it should automatically create a directory page. However, you can also create your own by adding the following shortcode to any page:
The default name for your page will be ‘Business Directory’. Since this doesn’t fit our real estate website design, we recommend that you change it. For example, we went with a fictional company named United Listings:
The title can be whatever you want. As long as the shortcode stays the same, the plugin will work.
You can also build a page for your users to send in listings when selling a home. To do this, you'll need to create a new page and add the following shortcode to allow front-end submissions:
Next, you can decide which form fields will be included in your listings. Go to Directory → Form Fields to see your current fields:
Then, click on any of the existing items to edit them. Alternatively, you can create custom fields if you don't see the ones that you need.
For this walkthrough, we’re keeping things simple. Our fields include the address, description, and real estate agency or realtor’s contact information.
Additionally, you can move fields up or down according to your needs. We highly recommend that you group any related fields together to avoid confusion.
Here’s an example of our form:
Finally, let’s look at categories. Go to Directory → Categories. You can add groups by using the form on the left-hand side:
We’ve included two parent categories as well as a few subsets. If you have a lot of listings, consider using multiple categories to keep them organized.
Step 3: Set up payments and decide on your fee plans
Next, we’ll be adding fee plans for your directory. This will require you to accept payments, so let’s start there.
Go to Directory → Settings → Payment→ General Settings and check the Turn On payments? box to reveal more settings:
You can then go through the options and tailor them to your website. For example, you might want to limit the number of photos that your users can upload. If you activated any extra financial modules, you could set those up now.
You might also want to set up a payment gateway. The default option is Authorize.net, but you may have one of the other modules. For more information on activating payment gateways, you can check out our support article on enabling paid mode.
Once that’s done, it’s time to set up the fee plans. Start by going to Directory → Fee Plan:
For Business Directory Plugin to work, you’ll always need a free plan. You don’t have to use it, but you can’t delete it either. However, you can still click on Edit to change the basic settings if you wanted to.
To set up an entirely new plan, click on Add New Listing Fee and fill out the following form:
While the Fee Description field is optional, we highly recommend that you use it. Consider utilizing this space to sell the value of the fee plan to potential customers.
You can also use features on this screen to increase the plan’s value. For example, you might charge more for a plan that floats listings to the top of the page.
Once you're done, save your work and repeat the process as necessary. When you’re happy with your fee plans, you can move on to the next step.
Step 4: Add listings and enable users to submit their own
It's time to add the real estate listings to your site. You might have collected a few on your own, or you might want to gather this information from seller or agent submissions. We’ll walk you through both methods, starting with the first one.
It’s possible to add listings from the back end of the plugin. However, doing so from the front-end tends to be much easier. Furthermore, it should be relatively quick because we already created the submission page in the first step.
All you have to do is visit your listing submission page from the front end. For reference, it should look something like this:
Then, simply fill in the fields as prompted. As you can see, we’re still logged in as admins. As such, we won’t have to pay to get these listings on the site.
Another option is to import your data. This can be essential if you already have a large CSV file full of listings. You can find this option under Directory → Import & Export:
We’ve highlighted the CSV and image upload fields in the above image. This process should be straightforward, but feel free to consult our CSV documentation if you run into any trouble.
Once your submission page is live, visitors should be able to submit their real estate listings right away. You can review and publish each submission under Directory → Directory Listings.
As the number of listings grows, you’ll have a full-fledged directory with a real estate website design. Here’s what our final directory looks like:
Nevertheless, we’ve only shown you the basics so far. There's a lot more you can build with our Business Directory Plugin. If you're looking for more ways to enhance your site, you can move on to the final step in this guide.
Step 5: Consider adding advanced features with modules
One of the most powerful features of our plugin is the option to add modules. In step one, we showed you how to access and activate them. Now, we’ll dig a little deeper into how you can use some of these modules strategically.
For example, the Enhanced Categories module will add images to your categories and allow parent pages to display above their child sections:
We especially recommend this module if you have a lot of listings. It’s the easiest way to add structure to your site.
You may also want to consider installing the Featured Levels module. This can help you customize your field and feature access across different fee plans. If you plan on monetizing your site, this can be an effective way to encourage upgrades.
When it comes to real estate websites, we also recommend the File Attachments module. Some users may want to include a PDF brochure of their apartments or condos. You can also change the fee-specific attachment settings to monetize this aspect:
However, try to keep in mind that users won’t be able to upload MS Word or Excel files. These documents could cause a huge security risk. As such, we don’t allow that option.
Finally, you should also consider the Discount Codes module. If you’re just starting out, you may want to encourage real estate agents to consider your site. Discount codes can help them make the initial commitment.
When you’re competing with countless other houses for sale websites, building a brilliant directory can help you stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be hard. With Business Directory Plugin, you can easily build a professional real estate listing site.
In this article, we walked you through five steps to help you create a real estate website:
- Download and install Business Directory Plugin.
- Create your site structure with directory pages, form fields, and categories.
- Set up payment options and fee plans.
- Add listings to your website.
- Consider including some advanced features with our modules, such as discount codes.
Are you ready to create your first listing directory with our plugin? Check out our pricing plans and try it for yourself today!