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4 Tools to Spice Up Your Real Estate Website

June 19 2012

If you have an existing real estate website, there are hundreds of tools you can use to add a little spice and consumer-friendly functionality. Because these tools vary in actual implementation, there’s no easy term to lump them under. If you have a WordPress website, you’re probably familiar with the term “plug-in,” and some of our examples are plug-ins – which you may be able to add all by yourself. However, this isn’t always the case and, depending on the tool, you may hear them referred to as “widgets” or “APIs.” The bottom line is that, even though most of these tools will probably require the assistance of a competent developer for implementation, this technology can be relatively quick and easy to get up-and-running, offering a nice cost/benefit balance.

We’re going to share a few of our favorites here, but we hope you’ll add to this list in the comments section below.

1) Closing.com SmartClosing
The Closing.com SmartClosing widget is a free calculator that you can embed on your website and even brand with your logo. The widget will allow visitors to your site to calculate:

  • Estimated monthly payments, including mortgage, home insurance, and property taxes
  • Closing costs
  • Total amount of cash they will need to close the transaction

In addition, the tool allows sellers to estimate sale proceeds and homeowners to calculate the cost of refinancing their home. The widget looks at local financial institutions that can provide the financial services homebuyers or sellers need (title companies, home insurance policies and more) and includes the price of each service.

2) Walk Score
If you’re unfamiliar with Walk Score, it’s a number from 0 to 100 that measures that walkability of any property or neighborhood. Walk Score offers several tools to enhance real estate websites. Perhaps the most popular is the Walk Score API, a website plug-in that allows programmers to access Walk Score data and display it on a real estate website. The Walk Score can appear on your property listings and/or you can even enable searching and sorting by Walk Score.

3) Education.com School Data & Tools
Agents have several free tools to choose from at Education.com. These include:

  • Local Schools Widget: includes a customizable map and directory view of all schools in your local community. Visitors to your site can view basic school info with the widget and perform new school searches.
  • SchoolFinder Web Service API: integrates school data into your website, allowing your developers free access to the entire SchoolFinder database.
  • Local Market Explorer Plugin: this WordPress plugin allows you to show detailed information about a city, including information from Zillow, Walkscore, Yelp, and Flickr.
  • School Search Widget: an easy-to-embed widget that allows users to search for school information right from your website.

These tools incorporate (once again, for free) the data found in the Education.com SchoolFinder application. This data set includes information about – yep, you guessed it – schools, such as contact info, location, enrollment information, test scores, student demographics, teacher credentials, student-to-teacher ratio, as well as parent ratings/reviews.

4) Onboard Informatics Lifestyle Search Widget
Onboard Infomatics has helped to pioneer the concept of “lifestyle search,” enabling consumers to determine the best place to live using a robust data set. With their Lifestyle Search Widget, they have created a solution that allows brokers, MLSs, and other real estate professionals to include lifestyle search on their own website. The Lifestyle Search Widget allows consumers to search for neighborhoods based on price range, schools, and type of area (for example, “family friendly,” “fun and hip,” “great for golfers,” etc.).

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