New York City-based luxury brokerage Brown Harris Stevens has embraced the basics with its new website, complete with a simplified layout, streamlined color scheme and enhanced home search capabilities. In addition to a new look, the site now includes profiles and listings for hundreds of former Halstead agents who joined BHS after the sister companies merged in June.
“We are building a stronger company with an exciting culture, and the new BHS commanded a new look for a new era,” Brown Harris Stevens CEO Bess Freedman said in a written statement. “The wonderful thing about Brown Harris Stevens is that we are a legacy brand with 150 years of incredible history – and we have a foundation like no other real estate company that will catapult us into future success.”
The site features a larger font size, pops of bold, orange lettering for each section, full-width listing profiles, and an easy-to-use home search bar that allows consumers to search by neighborhood, ownership type, residence type, amenities and price.
In a phone call with Inman, Freedman explained the process behind the redesigning the site and how it represents BHS’ evolution from its major rebrand in 2018.
“We had been working on revamping the website, starting from almost a year ago, and we wanted to do some new colors, new designs and a new feel,” Freedman told Inman. “When it comes to websites, I think you always have to come back and evolve and create a new look and feel and add new things as things come up.”
“When we did the integration and a combination of bringing Halstead into Brown Harris Stevens, it became, as you can imagine, a larger task, with 2,500 agents and 50-plus offices,” she added. “So we needed more time and we felt it was perfect because we’re almost like a new company now. It’s like a rebirth of sorts. We are a new Brown Harris Stevens.”
Freedman said the previous design was too complicated for consumers and made it difficult to quickly find information about agents and listings. With that in mind, Freedman said her team created a new layout that put listings front and center with a listing slideshow taking up a third of the home page and smaller listing “postcards” underneath the home search bar.
“I would say [our former site] was not as easy to use especially for the consumer,” she explained. “Because we also have an IDX feed, which means if a consumer wants to, they can look at every single listing that’s available in New York City.”
“We really wanted to focus on our properties and we wanted to make sure they’re highlighted in big beautiful photos and in almost like little postcards as well so that you can flip through the photos very easily,” she added. “We wanted things to be just very clear. Sometimes when you go back to simple, it feels really good and clean.”
When it comes to the search capabilities, Freedman said the search bar will auto-populate as consumers look for listings by address, area, city or neighborhood. From there, consumers can narrow their search by choosing certain listing features, such as an attended lobby, indoor gym or co-op ownership model.
“It’s great for someone who wants to do just a quick search or if someone really wants to dig in and see what is available, they can narrow it down to a condominium, a cooperative condo, townhouse or all of the above amenities,” she said. “I think consumers will feel very good about their search on our site because it’s simple — similar to searches on Amazon and Google.”
Although the new site is live, Freedman said the revamping process isn’t over. The BHS team still is working on adding listings from Connecticut and New Jersey, and they’re making small revisions as feedback rolls in from agents and consumers.
“When we did this, the design was meant to be very free-flowing and I think it has achieved that,” she explained. “But every day there are new iterations. We’re cleaning it up, and we’re working on it every single day to make making it better.”
“I’m very happy with how it came out and I think the website stays true to our standing as a legacy real estate firm, noting who we are, how long we’ve been around and our records,” she added. “But it also looks very modern and shows people who we are.”