Real Estate & Web Design?
When I tell people that our company is in the residential real estate and web design businesses, the response I get is usually something like "Real estate and web design? Really? That's odd!"
They're right! We never intended to pursue these two very diverse lines of work, but it has turned out to be a very complimentary pairing. Real estate came first and then fate delivered the piece we were missing...web design.
Our story begins in 2005. Open House Realty is a boutique real estate agency that was founded in 1999. We were still very much in start-up mode in 2005 but had designs on growing the business throughout the Southeast by opening additional offices and recruiting new agents. The founder of our agency was on a mission to improve the lives of real estate consumers and the agents that serve them. He introduced methods that would save our customers money and help our agents compete with the established agencies. He also introduced a commission structure that would allow our agents to retain a higher percentage of their earnings while providing financial stability to the agency they worked for.
We grew rapidly and our agents frequently pointed out that our website was in need of an upgrade. As co-owner and Broker-in-Charge of our home office, I was tasked with finding the right solution to create the new website... on a budget.
Simple. This is what we were looking for. We wanted a simple website that would tell our story and legitimize the company in the eyes of our customers and agents. We had no need for complex back-end integrations and we weren't looking to compete with the larger agencies in terms of search results on Google. We understood that success in real estate is more about relationships than search results.
Expensive. I met with local web design agencies and was surprised to learn how expensive even a simple, brochure-style website would be. I learned that they were accustomed to working with companies with deeper pockets than we had and they were not interested in pairing-down their offerings in order to reduce the cost. I also learned that most web design agencies in our market expected to receive two payments; half up front to start the project and the other half at delivery of the completed website. I realized that they work in much the same manner as real estate agents/agencies do...moving from one deal to the next with no type of recurring revenue.