Guest post by David Murton
Real estate web sites have become an essential component in the business of selling houses. Using a web site hosting service that is reliable and offers great tech support helps customers have access to listings and pictures at all times.
Security and Technical Support
Real estate is a very competitive business and security measures must be in place to protect the information from hacking. According to the National Association of Realtors about 74% of home buyers use the internet for information on houses. It is essential that their web site information is secure.
Website hosting control panels such as cpanel make it easy for Realtors to access their web site information and keep it up to date. Viewing outdated or incorrect information is frustrating for potential buyers, and they may move on to a different Realtor.
Quick, responsive technical support from a hosting service can greatly reduce a Realtor’s stress and inconvenience if their web site is hacked. All web sites should be monitored by their hosting service so that any problems can be resolved quickly.
Bandwidth and MySql database
Bandwidth is an important consideration when a real estate agency is comparing different web hosting services. Web sites for real estate agents often contain large amounts of high resolution pictures and buyers don’t like to wait for pictures to load. It’s important that the hosting service has enough bandwidth for the images to load quickly.
There may be many buyers looking at pictures on a real estate web site at one time. Bandwidth must be sufficient so that the web site doesn’t crash and not allow buyers to view the information they need to make a decision on which homes to see in person.
Real estate web sites will likely include lots of database entries. They are also likely to include many extra php scripts. An adequate web hosting service must support PHP and have an mysql database of no less than 25mb. A mysql database of 50mb is preferred.
Property Listing CMS
A property listing CMS, or content management system, provides for the maintenance, storage and retrieval of XML and HTML documents. It also provides for the maintenance, retrieval, and storage of all related images and audio/video files. A CMS for a real estate web site should accept or include plug-ins to provide banner advertising, blogs, newsletters, and opinion polls, chat rooms and forums. It is also helpful if the system can publish content to a DVD or print.
A well designed CMS for property listing should be able to show listings from a single agent or many separate real estate agents through a searchable front-end that is attractive and user friendly. Some CMS offer keyword research tools and keyword density tools. These allow the web site designer to cross link chosen keywords between web pages.
According to web site technology surveys conducted by W3 Techs, WordPress is a tool being used by about 14% of the 1,000,000 busiest web sites on the Internet. WordPress is free and has many features including a template system and a plug-in architecture.
WordPress is a publishing platform and open source blog tool that uses PHP and MySQL. Many web sites customize WordPress into their chose content management system. It also allows users to re-arrange widgets without editing HTML or PHP code. WordPress users can also install and switch between many different themes.
Security issues have been uncovered in WordPress software, which may not make it a good choice for a real estate web site. On April 13, 2011 it was announced that Automattic was dealing with a low level break-in to a number of WordPress servers. Any information contained on those servers could potentially have been revealed.
WordPress is still considered safe and they haven’t listed any measures for their users to take. Basic protection measures such as a random password with letters, number, and punctuation are important. Real estate web sites that are not very demanding should be able to use WordPress with little problems.
Making An Informed Decision Is Essential
Choosing a web site hosting service is a very important decision. Competitors may be able to access information and/or change the information listed if the host is not secure. Comparing bandwidth is essential for Realtors to make sure the information on their web site is available to home buyers at all times and can be accessed quickly. Access to quick thinking and acting technical support can minimize problems if they do occur
An easy to use content management system is the best way to make sure information is available to home buyers in a format they can understand. It also allows the web site designer to add additional information to the site such as advertising links and newsletters. WordPress themes are a free and widely used option for web site builders, but may not be as secure and reliable as other programs.