What you need to know about your options when it’s time for a new website.

As a real estate agent, your website is one of your most important assets. The world of website design, hosting, and maintenance has changed over the years, and if you have not had a new website recently, you may not be aware of what is available. In the past, most agents purchased a website from a marketing agency or designer, paid to have it hosted, then paid for any updates or maintenance that needed to be done. Today, there is an alternative to that called Software as a Service that might be a better fit for your needs. Here is the difference between SaaS and owning your site and how to decide which is right for you.

What Happens When You Buy a Website?

When you buy a website, you are basically contracting with a designer or website agency to create a site for you. In addition to a large upfront cost, you will also have to pay for the domain and for hosting the site. Once the site is built, the company’s obligations are over. You will own the site, but you will have to keep paying for hosting. Unless you’re on some type of maintenance contract, you won’t have any support when it comes to keeping your site up to date and running properly. You will be responsible for adding or changing content, adding or removing listings, and keeping all your plugins and links working properly.

After a certain amount of time, your site will start to look outdated or not perform as well as it used to. At this point, you will likely have to go back to the original designer or choose a new one and either pay a significant amount to have your site completely revamped or start from scratch with a new site.

What Happens When You Use SaaS for Your Website?

When you work with a company that offers SaaS for websites, you don’t have to pay a large upfront cost to have your site built. Instead, you will be able to leverage already-existing designs and will only need to pay for the customizations you need to make the site your own, complete with unique branding, colors, and a layout that fits your unique needs. In addition to the site, you will also get a team of experts who are there to help you every step of the way. This includes customizing your site to your needs, providing support after your site is finished that includes any necessary updates or fixes, and answering any of your site-related questions.

Benefits of SaaS

There are numerous benefits of working with a company who offers SaaS to build your website. They include:

■ Lower costs. Because you are leveraging an existing template, your upfront cost will be much lower compared to buying a new site. Hosting fees are also included, and you won’t have to pay to have someone update your site, add content, or ensure all your links and plugins are up to date.

■ Expert support. Have questions about how to use your site? Want to add the bio and image of a new team member? Notice that a link no longer goes where it needs to? When you work with a company that provides SaaS, you get a team of pros to help you every step of the way.

■ A site that grows with you. Sites provided by SaaS companies are dynamic. Unlike an owned website that can easily become outdated, your SaaS site will grow as your agency grows. New team members, updated branding, added services, and new features can all be added as needed, ensuring your site will never become obsolete.

How to Choose an SaaS Provider

Of course, not every SaaS provider will give you a seamless, stress-free experience when creating and maintaining your site. Choosing the right provider is an important step in the process and it pays to know what to look for. Here are some tips to help you out:

■ Choose a provider with experience. Brand new agencies may have flashy branding or catchy taglines, but look a little closer to see how much experience they have creating SaaS sites. The more experience they have, the more likely they are to still be around for years into the future when you need them.

■ Choose a provider that specializes in real estate. Realtors have unique needs when it comes to marketing, and no one knows this better than an agency that works with only agents. When you choose an agency that specializes in your industry, you’ll benefit from a team that knows exactly what it takes to make you successful.

■ Choose a provider who is easy to communicate with. You need to be able to talk with the members of the agency to tell them exactly what you want, need, and expect out of a site. You also need pros on your side who are responsive to questions, know how to explain things to you in plain terms, and put your needs first.

■ Choose a provider who offers other services. Your website is the core of your marketing plan. If your provider can build other marketing strategies around it, you will be one more step ahead of your competition. A robust agency who offers SaaS as well as lead generation, database, and social media marketing solutions will be able to create a cohesive plan that delivers results.

■ Choose a provider with no hidden costs. Everything you will need to pay for your site should be discussed upfront. Hidden fees or other costs that aren’t discussed before you sign the contract are signs of a disreputable agency.

Do you need a new website for your real estate business? Consider taking advantage of where the technology industry is headed and work with an SaaS provider for a dynamic site that grows with you. Want to take the next step? Reach out to the team at Luxury Presence so we can tell you about our SaaS services.