30 Sep
Part 2. Thinking on doing your own Property Portal? (Part 2)
Written by Jose M. Arrando

Developers vs Ready Made Solutions.

This is part 2 of 'Thinking on doing your own Property Portal', you may want to read part one first if you haven't yet, to do so click here please.

Continuing on from part on we were stated we needed Developers, Sales, Telemarketing, admin staff and Website Marketing activities done to have a property portal we will focus on the development part of the Property Portal. 

First let's see how we could define a Property Portal

Property Portals are basically Websites with lots of functionalities built into them and a very extensive administration panel that lets you handle and manage the Properties the publishers have on the portal and the clients that subscribe to it.

A respected Property Portal and one that wants to compete with other Portals in 2015 should, at least:

  • Allow clients to browse Properties fast, it should be faster than a regular Real Estate agent Property Website and it has to be faster having lots more Properties and options that a regular Property Website.
  • Have facilities to allow the agents to upload data via XML feeds. Gone are the times when a Real Estate Agent is going to go into your portal and import their portfolio manually.
  • Have various data exports so that your Portal can collaborate with other Property Portals and it must let you pick sets of Properties for Promotion on other Portals, Magazines, Newspaper ads, Craiglist ads, etcetera.
  • Should be Active in Social Media. This does not only just mean that your pages can be posted on Facebook but that they should show up well on the Social Media Platforms. Some standards have to be met for this (for example Open Graph for Facebook) and they have to be implemented by the software, sometimes on-the-fly using up processor cycles.
  • Have a solid Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system incorporated. The Portal will handle client data and it must go beyond what normal Property Software gives us.
  • Good Real Estate Portals should have a way of letting clients be introduced by subscription so they can be contacted if matching properties that agents have added into the portal are found.

This Last bullet point  is very important because that is where you are giving good value to the people who search for Property in your site. If they can't find a property then the system saves their requirements and e-mails them when the property is found. The system should contact these clients automatically and then send them back to your Website so they can fill in a contact form. Effectively this is  like having one more person in your office matching Clients to Buyers and then contacting them.

So what's the downside of having these features?

All these features come at a cost. The amount of data that needs to be moved is really massive. If we imagine a small Real Estate portal each agent could have an average of 500 properties, if you have just 20 agents you are dealing with 10000 Properties and if each property has an average of10 photos then you have to handle 100.000 photos. If each or some of those properties gets viewed an average of 50 times a month and each property gets a mean of 10 leads a month with 100 people subscribing to the agent then each property will have in a few months 100 transactions where it is sent to clients via e-mail, social marketing, etcetera. You could, with just 20 publishing agents,  be dealing with 100 transactions X 500 Properties X 20 Agents=1000000 (one million) properties sent and promoted to clients daily. You would have one million daily transactions on the servers where properties are being sent and/or promoted to clients. And that's just with 20 agents and not that many clients.

This means that NO, that $100 dollar Joomla or Wordpress software you found on the Internet will not be able to cope with this and NO, that Godaddy (not having anything against them) hosting 'unlimited space' offer for $150 a year won't be able to cut it even if you did have the software.

And we can't emphasize this enough: The Property Portal has to be fast, if it is not then clients will just not use and on top of that the search Engines won't even rank it very well if page load times are slow.

What options do we have for development?

There are only three options that will work:

  •     You buy software licenses for specific Property Portal Software, making sure that the software is properly created, taken care of and is already used in popular Property Portals. Be careful when choosing though as most Real Estate software is just one user software reconverted into multi-agent software, but it really is not meant for Property Portals and will never offer the functionality a Property Portal Does. You could check-out the software the guys at Rivility Real Estate Solution have developed, it is a relatively young company and their software does everything a Portal needs with excellent support too.
  •     The other option is that you hire staff to develop you the software from scratch. This is the most expensive option, then again it has lgood things like, for example, the software will look and behave exactly how you want it too. When choosing developers take care not to throw your money at the first person that comes up boasting experience with Property Portals. Most so called Web Developers are just Web designers that have followed short courses in programming, they will never get the job done and you'll just have spent all your hard earned money on BS. Ideally Developers should have a University Degree in Computer Science, have additional training in the Technologies they say the know and have proven Track Record doing Property related Code development. They are not easy to find but once you do have no doubts they'll get the job done and well.
  •     You could also outsource staff. This is really not feasible unless you are going to be able to plan the outsourced work correctly and divide all the tasks into sub-tasks for the team, you will need experience in managing remote teams and, even then, it will still be hard to manage.

Those are the three options you have for developing the code that your Property Portal needs, obviously make sure that whatever you do you are following the latest coding standards and Frameworks and that the resulting product is easy to update and will have updates for many years to come.

In part three we will talk about the Sales and Telemarketing aspects of managing your own Property Portal.