I don’t think there is a real estate agent on the planet who needs to hear someone tell them the importance of looking good. Slipping into that designer suit, arriving in a high-end car, checking the time on an elegant watch, all these things combine to make you feel like the professional you are.
A well-polished exterior doesn’t just help the agent assume their role. It gives the client a strong sense of confidence that you are the right person to work with. The success you wear on the outside illustrates the success you have achieved in your career better than any portfolio ever could.
Everyone in real estate knows this – first impressions count. In fact, they are critical. While the Bentley, the Rolex, and the Armani might paint the accurate picture that you are there to do business, in the modern world, this isn’t where first impressions are made.
Today, your customers first contact with you – and their first impression of you – will be built before you even know they exist. The first place a potential new customer will go to after being referred to your services? Straight to your website, of course. Contact with your website will precede any other forms of communication. In fact, it acts as one of the most important factors which underpins whether a new client will pick up the phone or not.
This is where a lot of real estate agents let themselves down. To put it bluntly, their websites are simply not up to scratch. It’s totally understandable, of course. Real estate agents know the real estate business. Writing code is a mystery to them, which causes a lot of agents to simply ignore the problem and focus on what they do know – selling houses.
In the world of luxury real estate, a refined and elegant real estate website is more important than in any other niche of the industry. Luxury is associated with quality and if your site isn’t up to standards, you could easily be perceived as one of the many pretenders out there who liberally overuse (and misuse) the term “luxury” to try to hoodwink clients.
If your luxury real estate website isn’t top-notch, a customer may question whether you are at the level which they are looking for. Let’s go back to the well-polished image of the agent; it’s that level of refinement which needs to come from your website. Your luxury real estate website has to be consistent with the services you offer in real life. It needs to display your confidence and professionalism the same way the Armani suit does.
A lot of real estate agents harbor secret despair about their website. They know it isn’t right, but they don’t know what to do about it. Is that you? Are you displaying the correct digital identity? Here are the eight things you need to know which make luxury real estate websites convert potential into actual.
The first essential element for a luxury real estate website is great visual design. One of the core principles which truly separates luxury from ordinary is cutting edge aesthetics. Ugly design turns people off. The site needs to be simple, elegant, and invoke the kind of emotions associated with the pinnacle of the industry.
Luxury is a word that gets misused a lot these days as salesmen try to align themselves with the peak of their products. At its core, luxury is not about expensive items or a hefty price tag, it’s all about the emotions we feel when we are immersed in a high-end experience. You can’t fake luxury design. You’ve either got it or you haven’t. Avoiding bright colors and keeping it simple is a good start. The best luxury branding is always rooted in artful simplicity.
Professional photography is an absolute must for any real estate agent and is especially important in the luxury market. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Good images are the perfect opportunity to stimulate the emotions of clients as most people easily connect with visual imagery.
A professional photographer will know how to capture a house to provoke an emotional response. High-quality photos will speak to clients’ emotions, allowing them to feel what it would be like to live in that space. Also, not since the 1990’s has anyone been fooled by stock photos of businessmen confidently and successfully conducting abstract meetings. Headshots need to capture you as you are at your best – prepared, approachable, confident, real.
Words Have Power
Words are another excellent opportunity to connect to the emotions of your clients, one which is all too often overlooked by real estate agents in favor of clunky blocks of copy which are littered with industry acronyms. In the modern world of copywriting, the favored approach is to present core information – no filler – in a light-hearted, friendly, and conversational tone.
All copy should be focused on the user’s experience. You have to always remember who you are talking to. Cold, conservative, corporate-style language might work well in some industries but in luxury real estate your clients are not going to fall for a gimmicky sales pitch. If anything, they’ll see the charade and wonder what you are trying to hide…
Remember, when a client visits your site, they are looking for a reason to trust you but they will not overlook any red flags which give them a reason to doubt you. By the time they are ready to approach an agent, they will already have made the decision to buy a home. Don’t give the client any reasons not to buy it off of you, especially silly things like typos.
It’s not just an attractive design which will win over your customers, your website also has to provide a good experience for the user as they navigate your pages. Good website design understands the intuitive nature of navigation and the importance of creating an effortless flow which allows people to instinctively glide around your site.
Clunky navigation and awkward layouts could easily give the impression that working with you could also be difficult and messy. Conversely, instinctive and simple navigation subconsciously implies that working with you will also be easy. Remember, friction causes frustration. Keep it fluid. Like Bruce Lee said, “be like water”.
There are a huge number of real estate websites which look great when viewed on a desktop or a laptop but are often misaligned and confused when viewed on a mobile or tablet. These days, it seems like everyone has their mobile phone welded to the palm of their hand. It’s absolutely critical that a luxury real estate website is optimized for these platforms as these are the go-to devices that your customers will use.
If a customer finds a site which doesn’t work, chances are they won’t come back for a second look later in the day. It’s more likely they will move on to find someone new. Also, Google ranks mobile-friendly websites higher than those which are only designed for desktop.
There’s an often-quoted rule about websites which states that, if it doesn’t load in five seconds, you’ve already lost the attention of your customer. If your site takes a long time to load, the client might lose their motivation, if you keep them waiting on multiple pages, they might just wander off elsewhere…
This is one of the main issues that can be found with real estate websites which were built by amateurs: they can take a long time to load. This is something that a professional can get just right. There’s a fine art in balancing high-quality visual content with a fast loading time and it’s not something you want to leave to chance.
Urgh, pop-ups. While a business owner might see it as a great opportunity to capture the clients which visit their site, from a user’s perspective, it can sometimes feel like you have to fight your way past a never-ending stream of pop-ups in order to be allowed to read the content you were looking for. Some people have gone pop-up crazy in recent years, and to be honest, it can be a bit annoying.
Having said that, pop-ups are not all bad. Sometimes, they are useful for the visitor, for example, if I get to the bottom of an article then yeah, maybe I will subscribe to the email list. The key to using pop-ups is to have a sensitive hand and to use them subtly. If your site starts throwing pop-ups within the first ten seconds of loading, there’s a chance you are disrupting your visitor’s experience with annoying digital mosquitos.
While a blog is a great opportunity for you to exercise your voice to your clients, the real importance of having regular articles on your site is to help boost your ranking on search engines. Google likes websites which update regularly with high-quality content and, if the articles are optimized for keywords, they’ll bump your site up the search result lists and edge you ever closer to the top.
Blogging is also a great opportunity to give yourself credence in the eyes of your clients. You can illustrate your credibility in a very passive way by discussing the latest industry news, highlighting recent clients or deals which you have done, or use it to show your personality to make you more approachable.
You Are Your Brand
The overarching theme of selling luxury real estate is to align your brand with your identity. You may have already polished your personal exterior into that of a luxury agent but the best way to get ahead of the rest in the modern world is to make sure your digital identity is on par with the rest of your branding.