SAN FRANCISCO — Websites and real estate software too often reflect how designers and developers want to search for homes and use data instead of catering to their end users.

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Takeaways:

  • Agents need to design websites for consumers, not based on how they search for properties for consumers.
  • Studies show price and pictures are most important to home shoppers.
  • Agents should test website usability with customers before launch.

SAN FRANCISCO — Websites and real estate software too often reflect how designers and developers want to search for homes and use data instead of catering to their end users, according to a panel of experts at Inman Connect San Francisco.

When it comes to real estate websites, the industry is creating destinations based on how agents search and filter properties when looking for matches for their clients.

Instead, exhaustive search tools can make buyers miss the right home because it’s $5,000 off their price range or a mile away from the ZIP code.

The number of search filters is clogging the user interface and is reflective of agents’ assumption that home searchers want that level of specificity when home shopping.

“Price and pictures, that’s what they want,” said panel member Joel Burslem with 1000watt Consulting.

Home search tools should be able to organically include options just outside search parameters, especially considering buyers’ reputations for sudden, emotional changes in home preference.

Stale data is also plaguing the real estate industry.

“There’s nothing worse than stale data,” said Ian Swinson of Speakeasy Tech.

Even Web content that is a couple of weeks old can lead to a user moving to a new URL.

Real estate agents should consider testing websites with buyers well before launch.

In testing, avoid stepping in to suggest how a property is found, or where the agent’s background is uncovered.

Give free reign to your testers and challenge them to give you solutions to your site’s hangups.

Ultimately, remember that every page of a website or software solution should solve a problem. That problem might be as simple as “How do I call the office?” or “Can I share this property with my wife?”

Email Craig Rowe.

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