Nearly every real estate transaction begins with an online search, making your online presence as a real estate professional one of the most vital parts of your business. Where to begin? Whether you already have an established website for your real estate business or are just starting out, you can take advantage of two website extensions—the .realtorTM and .realestate top-level domains—that the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has created to help you build your brand.
Getting started with a .realtorTM or .realestate domain is easy, affordable, and a no-brainer, according to industry experts who have seen their businesses grow and thrive since making the switch. Here are 10 key benefits they think all real estate professionals should know, in their own words.
Your online presence is an important facet of your personal brand as a real estate professional.
1. Your domain immediately establishes a voice of authority
REALTORS® are members of the National Association of REALTORS® and adhere to a rigorous code of ethics. This designation immediately signals to homebuyers and sellers that this is an industry expert they can trust. Making that credibility immediately apparent in your online presence is key, says Britt Guimond, a Denver-based REALTOR® who works at boutique brokerage West and Main Homes. “The .realtorTM extension lends credibility to my website,” she says. “It’s like .gov or .edu, which are vetted entities. A site can’t have those extensions unless they are what they say they are. It’s very obvious what .realtorTM represents.
2. It’s easy for your clients to remember the name
Like many in the industry, Josh Jerman of Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers chose to focus his real estate strategy on name recognition. His goal is to market his name as synonymous with Maui real estate. “You want to do as much as possible with your own name,” he advises, which is why he opted for a .realtorTM domain preceded by his own name—joshjerman.realtor.
In one short URL, it’s immediately apparent who he is and what he does, effectively building his personal brand.
3. You are harnessing the power of SEO
In addition to the .realtorTM extension, NAR also offers a .realestate option, which Lisa Kunkel, a REALTOR® with Keller Williams Realty in the greater Pittsburgh area, saw as a slam dunk for SEO.
Before becoming a REALTOR®, Kunkel actually worked as a website developer. “The name of your website factors into SEO, so if you have ‘real estate’ in your URL, that is a very good thing,” she says.
Kunkel opted to secure URLs with the name of her hometown, Cranberry Township, a bedroom community in Pittsburgh. She chose both cranberrytownship.realestate and cranberrytwp.realestate to maximize her presence in search results.
4. Clients can find you faster
REALTORS® using the .realtorTM and .realestate domains report that clients can find them almost instantly.
Kunkel says that since launching her websites, her phone has been ringing “nonstop” with buyers and sellers. “As soon as you type in ‘Cranberry Township real estate’ or ‘Cranberry Township Keller Williams,’ my name pops up,” she says.
She occasionally also gets calls about other town-related concerns, like broken sidewalks in front of homes for sale, but she views this as a positive—proof that her online strategy is working. “They are clearly calling me because they found me on the internet,” she says.
In addition to brand recognition, the .realtor™ and .realestate domains can help keep you discoverable in search results.
5. It can be a fast-track to referrals
The .realtorTM extension can also be an asset when it comes to referrals. Jerman explains, “I’ve noticed that other agents that have the .realtorTM domain have looked to that platform when they need to refer to another agent in a different market. It’s the real estate version of someone going on LinkedIn to connect with others in a similar industry.”
In the last year, he reports that he’s gained four or five referrals this way.
6. It can help you boost your revenue
Real estate is a numbers game: The more people who can find you, the higher your year-end sales numbers.
In Kunkel’s case, she’d had several good years working in the greater Pittsburgh area before deciding she wanted to target her hometown of Cranberry Township. Her narrowed focus would allow her to define her market as well as save money on expenses from driving to neighborhoods further away.
Her new strategy involved revamping her online presence with her cranberrytownship.realestate and cranberrytwp.realestate websites. And the results speak for themselves: In the first year of her new sites, she sold $4 million in Cranberry Township alone. “I would say it’s a big success,” she says.
7. Building on the NAR platform is easy
Your new .realtorTM or .realestate website from NAR includes free hosting as well as a self-service platform to help you build your new website.
“It’s as simple as it gets,” says Jerman, who had previously hired a web developer for 20 hours to build a website for his business. When it came time to build his joshjerman.realtor site, he and his assistant were able to build and customize it themselves in just two hours.
Guimond had a similarly positive experience when she switched to NAR’s website platform to build brittguimond.realtor. She had previously built websites on another platform, but “quickly switched gears,” she says, when she found NAR’s .realtorTM offering. “This CMS is easy to use and intuitive.”
8. You can make your site feel as custom as you want
The NAR platform includes a host of customization options that allow agents to make their site feel aligned with their personal brand. These include looping videos, photo slideshows, blog templates, and much more.
“The widgets lend themselves to creating a dynamic user experience,” says Guimond. “They add to the diversity of the look and feel of the website.”
She also highlights a favorite feature: free use of a library of images. “They are all high quality—beautiful.”
9. You have access to support
NAR’s platform offers a support team that responds quickly to questions about setup as well as requests to customize or alter templated pages.
Jerman shares that when building his site, he reached out to request a “Get in Touch” button for his bio page. The change, he said, was made within hours, and he commends the level of service he received for his request. “They said they’d be happy to make that adjustment and if I needed anything further to let them know.
10. You can’t beat the price
All NAR members receive their first year of a professional website with a .realtorTM domain for free—including hosting, customization, image library, and tech support. After that, it’s just $39.95 per year.
Kunkel puts this in perspective. “If you’ve spent money on advertising,” she says, “you know how expensive that is.” Whereas a .realtorTM or .realestate domain does the work for you—showing up in search results again and again, and all for an affordable flat fee. She sums it up: “You can’t get advertising for that cheap.”