PropertyWebBuilder - a website builder for real estate

(Etewiah) #1

My latest project is a website builder for estate agents and I would love to get some feedback. Has anyone here had any experience creating websites for estate agents?

I started it with a Spanish guy who knows that market quite well. I now want to target estate agents in the UK too so it would be great to know what specific requirements there might be for real estate websites in the UK. This is the website builder:

And this is an example of a website created with it:

BTW, would also like to hear about estate agents with really crappy sites :wink:

(Daniel Hollands) #2

I know nothing at all about the industry - but I do know that any time I look for a house, I use Rightmove rather than individual estate agents’ sites.

(Andy Wootton) #3

Wearing my BA hat, there should be a fairly obvious problem for you: a business can use packaged solutions to reduce costs but should want its core business function to differentiate it from the competition. While you may be able to do that at the presentation layer, won’t clients want exclusive access to any unusual features you add, wiping out the cost advantage you have by supplying a standard package?

Luckily, many people do make bad decisions about software, so you’ll probably be fine :slight_smile:

(Etewiah) #4

I think these days though a website is part of being credible. Take these guys as an example:

Even if I came across a property from them on Rightmove that I liked, I would probably be hesitant about going ahead after seeing their website…

(Etewiah) #5

Good point. The thing about real estate websites though is that they are pretty standard. The main differentiator is the service provided and this is about the content and properties they have.

Right now each website can be customised with different colors, logos, layouts etc. With time I will add more templates so it will eventually be quite easy to create a site with PropertyWebBuilder that looks completely different from another site built with the same tool.

(Philip Wattis) #6

I would not. If I found the house I wanted (whether on Rightmove or elsewhere), I wouldn’t let an incompetent or backwards thinking estate agent get in the way of me buying it. What a dodgy looking website may do however, is make me consider an alternate agent in the event I want to sell my house. Then again, if my house ends up on Rightmove, and the fees are right, then I’m probably going to use them.

(Daveyon Mayne) #7

Good thing I eat a lot of carrots to see the content properly. I may need to eat more carrots for the price plan area. Get it? Text way to small. I’ve also submitted the form without entering my name and body text.

(Etewiah) #8

Wow, you’re right! Now you mention it I can see its obvious but I really didn’t notice before - tunnel vision :wink:

(Daveyon Mayne) #9

I don’t know how to write tests as yet but I do know how to test properly physically and ask myself what if the user tries this. haha

(Colin Smith) #10

A lot seem to be poorly equipped for search requirements, i.e, you can’t search for a detached house you can have to search for ‘house’ and trawl through everything. I can understand this to a degree; why put a lot of effort into your own web application when the overwhelming majority of people looking for a house (me included at the moment) will be watching changes on Rightmove, OnTheMarket and Zoopla etc as most agents (if they have any sense) will be publishing to those.

Speaking of publishing to Rightmove etc I presume you’re going to include this as an option in your application to save agents the extra time spent maintaining details on multiple systems. I work for a commercial property consultancy; we maintain property data in a central application which has the capability to publish the details to multiple targets; very useful feature.

House classification is one of my personal bugbears - a house that is attached by the garage on either side is not ‘detached’ in my book, it’s a terrace.

(Etewiah) #11

Yes, the search functionality is something that I have spent quite some time on. Were I to have built it for just one client, it would probably have cost them quite a bit :wink:

PropertyWebBuilder does allow exporting properties to other portals. So far though, I have only implemented it for one portal in Spain called Idealista. I will add more as clients request them.

There is certainly an issue with standards in the Real Estate space. Everyone seems to have and prefer their own format. Perhaps its a way of protective their turf but it does seem pretty ridiculous in this day and age.

I have come across some people trying to change things like this github issue:

I myself will try to create a ruby gem to encapsulate the logic I use for parsing my property information. In the meantime if you know of any tools / code that helps with this, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

(Marc Cooper) #12

They used to call that: link-detached. Linked, yet detached. Ah, estate agents.

(Craig Kelly) #13

I don’ man to p*iss on your chips here, but Wordpress themers seem to have cornered the market, 84 prebuilt themes there. Wordpress also do some excellent search plugins.

(Daniel Hollands) #14

While I don’t disagree with you, this is only any good for people with the know-how needed to set-up a WordPress site and add a theme to it. Sure, it’s an easy thing to do for you and me, but I’ve got a feeling @etewiah is aiming at the business market, not the techie one.

Lets also not forget that WordPress is a pile of shit, which will have to be maintained by whoever set it up, installing both updates to WordPress and the theme in question - and as the themer moves onto new projects and builds new themes, the older ones will become unsupported and are more likely to break.

What @etewiah seems to be offering, however, is a turn-key solution. Press a button, provide a bit of basic customisation, and everything else is done for you - no need to worry about hosting or patches or anything, it just works.

(Nick Banford) #15

I think it’s nice that you’re trying to bring some consistency to lots of people who are trying to effectively achieve the same thing. It’s always seemed very inefficient to me that small businesses try to have their own website developed by wordpress cowboy. When all they want is a similar set of functionality to their rivals. I guess that’s why high street estate agents are expensive and inefficient and generally unpleasant to work with.

I think your web design skills are currently letting you down a little. But the concept is good.

Do you have any stats on usage? Was this successful in Spain?

Disclosure, I work for an estate agent. (Not the kind that you are targeting though.)

(Etewiah) #16

I couldn’t have said it better myself @LimeBlast :wink:

The main thing I hope to use as a selling point will be my admin panel. There are little things about how you configure search options like localities and zones etc that are best done with a custom admin panel.

Performance will be the other selling point of mine (though right now I haven’t optimised that)

And finally, in the longer term I might be able to do things like make the admin panel available as a Cordova / PhoneGap app (its an emberJS app at the moment - uses the same technology stack as Discourse)

(Etewiah) #17

Hey @Banford, I agree with you, my design skill are a big weakness. My priority these coming weeks will be to sit down with a designer and fix that.

I only got a handful of customers in Spain but I’ve only been live with it for a few weeks. I’ve decided to go straight for the international market rather than spending too much time on one market. Someone in Egypt signed up and asked for support for Arabic and the currency there. It only took me a few hours of work to do that:

Though the estate agency you work for might not be my target market, I would love to hear your opinion on what problems estate agents have that could be handled better with websites. Also, do you have to exchange data with other agents / portals? I’d be interested in hearing your experience around that.

(Etewiah) #18

After a lot of umming and ahhing I’ve decided I’m going to open source PropertyWebBuilder!

In the best case scenario, I’m not going to make much money from it anyway. Open Sourcing might reduce the possibility of making money from it somewhat but I think the experience in itself will more than make up for it.

My hope is that at least a handful of other developers will join me to make it a better product than it currently is and perhaps take some share of the WordPress market.

I will post a link to the github rep when it is in a half decent state ( I am rewriting it from scratch for various reasons)

(Daveyon Mayne) #19

What really brought you to do this? What was the original plan you had in mind? Also what’s the business plan you had/have had with ChattyMaps? Those two are great projects.

(Etewiah) #20

You know, I realised after a while that I really don’t like marketing and to just sell it as a commercial product would involve having to do a lot of that.
With ChattyMaps I never really had a business plan. It was an experiment - hope I can come back to it and make something of it.