It may soon get even easier for Realtors to connect with potential clients online.
Tech provider Placester has streamlined and improved its free website service for members of the National Association of Realtors.
The free “NAR Edition” sites offer real estate professionals a fast and easy way to beef up their digital footprint, and have been available in an earlier version since May 2017. Prior to that, the company charged $5 per month for the service.
The newly redesigned service is meant to make creating the sites even easier. Placester Vice President Seth Price told Inman that would-be users will merely have to input basic information such their company name, address, NAR ID number, and MLS credentials. Placester’s template then creates a site that can be live within a few minutes.
The redesigned NAR Edition sites come with a handful of features that were not previously available, including contact forms, a “featured area” section where agents can indicate the neighborhoods they specialize in, a mortgage calculator, and five pre-written blog posts. Also new is the ability for visitors to save searches and create lists of favorites, which are then passed on to the Realtor for potential leads.
Users also have improved customization options in the new version, and opting for a paid “pro” version means having Placester handle more of the nuts and bolts. The pro version costs $99 per month plus a one-time $99 set-up fee.
NAR is not paying Placester for the sites, Price said.
Price said the company had been working on the redesign for about six months. The goal, he said, is to give Realtors a way to showcase their local knowledge, rather than just have a barebones online business card or a place to display listing photos. In their new iteration, the NAR Edition sites will have more space for written content such as a blog.
“The last mile for the agent is local expertise, and we’re trying to help them to articulate that on the web,” Price said. “We’ve really streamlined the process so anyone regardless of their tech capability can spin up a site in minutes.”
Placester CEO Omar Hussain said in a statement that his company spent months consulting with Realtors “to determine the elements that make up an amazing real estate website.”
“Our redesigned NAR Edition websites set a new standard for what’s possible when it comes to creating an online presence that’s both compelling and accessible to all,” Hussain continued.
The prior version of the free NAR Edition websites offered only a handful of basic features that the new version retains, including a search tool, the ability to display photos, a testimonials section and an “About” section. The old version was met with occasional lukewarm reviews by actual users.
NAR has 1.3 million members nationwide. Placester — which has raised millions in funding and offers a variety of digital and marketing services — has about 100,000 existing users on the original NAR Edition, according to Placester Director of Marketing Sam Clarke. The company hopes to have those users migrated over to the new and improved NAR Edition service by the end of the year.
NAR did not immediately respond to Inman’s requests for comment, but in a statement CEO Bob Goldberg said the industry is competitive and “our members need outstanding websites that can engage potential customers instantly.”
“This exciting redesign from Placester means that every Realtor can take advantage of these improved features and build a professional and impactful website for free,” Goldberg added.