3 things you should be considering for your brokerage website (but maybe aren’t)

A bit of a grab bag in this post, as a swirl of events over the past couple weeks have gotten me thinking about the standard approach to a real estate website.

 Click-to-call catching on

Trulia launched Instant Leads this week, powered through a partnership with Twilio. The service connects potential buyers inquiring about a particular property on the portal directly to agents through SMS or an automatic call.

Their rationale? From Trulia’s blog post:

With Trulia Instant Leads, agents have an opportunity for first mover’s advantage in responding to leads, increasing their chances of converting those leads into clients. Consumers often submit multiple inquiries while they’re performing an online search for properties, which makes a quick response time the single most important opportunity for agents to earn the consumer’s business. Instant Leads allows agents to catch the consumer at the peak of interest—while they’re still searching online and near a phone.

Bottom line? The agent that responds fastest, wins.

Click-to-call functionality has been around for a while. Unfortunately, the implementation on the “desktop web” has always been a bit clunky. This dynamic changes significantly, however, when the computer that a consumer is viewing a property is also their phone.

Building in a way that instantly connects a buyer to an agent seems like a very sensible idea.

Tablet optimized interfaces

Apple reported this week that it had sold a record 9.25 million iPads in its third quarter. This is a 183% increase over the same quarter in 2010. Apple continues to see record growth in this new category. Contrast this to the PC market, where sales are slumping.

If you’re in the midst of planning a redesign for your website, you ought to be thinking hard how people will be interacting with it on a multi-touch screen. If you’re not thinking about a new look and feel to your website, you’re missing the boat.

This isn’t necessarily hard. Take Onswipe for example, a service that takes your WordPress blog and turns it into a Flipboard-like app in your browser. It takes your standard website layout, literally “flips” it on its head and creates a more pleasurable magazine-esque experience.

For more complex needs, advances in web standards, such as HTML5, CSS3 and new frameworks like jQuery and Sencha, mean you can begin to create experiences on the web that make them more usable, more natural, and, like Onswipe, even begin to approximate real-world interactions.

Little touches like these will excite and delight your users.

When was the last time you felt that on a real estate website?

Getting smart with social

Brian reported earlier this week on Move’s acquisition of SocialBios. I think this was a very smart acquisition as it brings a lot of smarts in-house to Realtor.com – guys like Ernie Graham (founder of SocialBios) who really grok how social can be applied to real estate.

Also in the last few weeks, Google+ introduced us to the concept of Circles, small “micro-networks” that facilitate information sharing amongst groups of individuals. Facebook does the same thing with its “Send” button and Groups.

Real estate websites often deliver lonely, solitary experiences. I think there’s a real opportunity to bring social to real estate – one that doesn’t just mean slapping a Tweet button or Facebook “Like” widget on a listing. Very soon, that’s going to feel, well, very 2011-ish.

[Disclosure: Move, Inc. is a 1000watt Consulting client]