Here’s a simple marketing lesson for commercial brokers and brokerage teams: The more useful your website is for your target audience, the more leads your site will generate for you.
The idea itself is pretty cut and dry.
The process of making your website a solid lead generator, however, is a little more intricate.
Constructing a Real Estate Website with Widgets
On one side of things, you have to make sure the contents of your site are relevant to your target audience.
Additionally, you have to make sure that a user’s experience on your site is one that keeps them occupied, intrigued, and informed.
One way to do that is through sleek design. Another way is through well-written copy.
A third way? By incorporating impactful real estate widgets within your site.
Today, there are an abundance of web tools that can be great for your website and lead generation efforts as a commercial real estate broker.
Which Real Estate Widgets are the Most Useful?
Below, we highlight the top real estate widgets and APIs for commercial broker websites, and explain how they can benefit those looking for commercial space.
Each section covers a different type of widget, with the price and complexity of implementation varying widely from one tool to the next.
1. Google Street View
Even though the Google Street View widget has been around for years, it is still one of the more useful website tools for both commercial and residential real estate brokers.
Using Google’s API, you can display Street View images of your available properties directly on your website.
You can feature an interactive, 360-degree panorama (also referred to as photo sphere) similar to Street View mode on Google Maps.
This will allow your website visitors to check out the building exterior, parking and other features, as well as the immediate neighborhood of any properties they are considering, without having to make the trip in person.
Alternatively, you can embed a non-interactive, static thumbnail of a photo sphere, which can be useful for creating a gallery view of your available properties.
A more industry-specific tool, LoopLink is a real estate listing engine that can be used to add and update your available properties on your website as well as LoopNet’s network of listing services and third party websites such as Facebook and Craigslist.
The property listings are managed through an admin dashboard, which can also be used to create exposure and lead reports, review page view stats, and more.
LoopLink also features an advanced search tool, which allows website visitors to narrow down the list of properties based on specific criteria.
This widget can be a great time saver for busy real estate professionals trying to market their available listings across multiple channels.
It can also help improve your listings rank in search results on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
3. Office Space Calculator
This free widget offered by LeaseMatrix can help your website visitors calculate the total amount of space they need.
The user inputs the number of units of the various types of spaces such as executive and standard offices, cubicles, meeting rooms, utility rooms, and reception areas.
The calculator uses default dimensions for the various types of spaces, but they can be edited as needed.
It also adds a percentage for circulation area to calculate the total amount of usable square feet, and a core factor percentage to determine the total amount of rentable square feet.
Both percentages can be changed as per the needs of the user.
The calculator can be easily embedded as an iframe into any website with a single line of code.
4. Loan Amortization Calculator
This calculator widget can be very useful for website visitors looking to purchase commercial real estate property with a loan.
The user inputs the loan amount, interest rate, the term and start date. The calculator then generates a yearly and monthly amortization schedule along with an attractive graph visually representing the amortization over the term of the loan.
It also returns the monthly payment amount, the total interest to be paid over the life of the loan, and the payoff date.
The loan amortization calculator is offered by CalculateStuff.com and can be embedded in your website as a full page or a sidebar widget at a cost of $50 per year.
A free popup version is also available, however it comes without the customization options of the paid widget.
5. U.S. Census Bureau API
The Census Bureau is offering access to some of its key demographic, socio-economic and housing statistics through an API that can be used to integrate the data into websites or create stand-alone apps.
Providing such critical demographic data on your commercial real estate listings website can help your visitors determine if available properties are a good fit for their business, especially restaurant and retail store owners.
The Bureau continuously makes new datasets publicly available through the API and it allows users to customize the data for various web tools and mobile apps.
Developers can also request the release of any additional datasets by submitting requests through the Developers’ Forum Slack Channel available on the Bureau’s website.
6. Newsletter Subscription Opt-Ins
One way to build your email marketing list is to add a newsletter subscription opt-in to your website.
Most popular platforms including MailChimp and Constant Contact, can integrate various email signup forms on your website. Some options include pop-up signup forms, embedded forms, and landing page signup forms.
Additionally, you can choose between single opt-in or double opt-in. Double opt-in requires subscribers to verify their email address before they get added to your list.
You can entice your website visitors to sign up by clarifying what type of content they can expect to see in your emails and how they can benefit from it.
For example, commercial real estate brokers can promote their available listings to existing and potential clients, as well as other real estate professionals.
7. Live Chat Widgets
There are a number of live chat widgets available that can be a great add-on for your website.
Available tools include:
These widgets allow business owners to provide their website visitors with an additional method of communication, which is a lot more immediate that phone calls, emails, or social media messages.
Having someone available to answer questions in real time can encourage potential clients to inquire about your available listings while browsing your website, thus bringing you one step closer to signing a deal.
The widget typically appears as a floating chat bubble that can be implemented on any or all pages throughout your website.
It’s important to remember that unlike the other widgets in this list, this one requires an actual person to be engaged in order to make the most of it.
8. Social Media Sharing Widgets
Just like with online chat, there are multiple widgets available that facilitate the sharing of web content on social media.
Your website visitors (as well as you and your marketing team) can use these widgets to quickly share your available property listings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and dozens of other social media channels.
In addition to the sharing buttons, many of the tools also include other marketing, automation, and analytical features.
Pricing for social media sharing widgets can vary widely, however the good news is that there are several that are available for free.
9. Photo Gallery Widgets
Images are a critical component of commercial real estate marketing.
Potential clients love looking through multitudes of photos as this is one of the quickest ways to determine whether they are interested in further exploring an available property.
They let you choose from a number of templates, photo shapes and sizes, and add text, audio, zooming and other options in order to create a completely customized presentation.
In addition, such tools allow you to publish your images on intranets, mobile apps, content management systems such as WordPress, and ecommerce platforms such as Shopify.
10. Appointment Booking Widgets
The commercial real estate industry thrives on appointments and property showings, which are typically scheduled via phone or email.
Adding an appointment booking widget to your website can encourage interested parties to schedule a property tour without having to get in touch with you personally.
These widgets allow customers to see your meeting availability, and book or cancel appointments directly on your website. You can accept or decline bookings, and block out personal time.
The widgets can also handle scheduling for multiple agents, and send out automated appointment reminders and rescheduling notifications via email or text.
It is also important to remember to add any appointments you schedule offline, in order to avoid double bookings.
11. Swiftype Site Search
Swiftype is a search bar widget that can be integrated with websites and apps.
It is very easy to implement—you simply enter your site’s URL and Swiftype will index all the content, creating a custom search engine for your website.
This can be a very useful tool for your visitors as they will most likely be searching for a specific type of property when looking through your available listings.
Empowering them to find the right prospective locations quicker will increase your chances of getting a showing scheduled, and possibly closing the deal.
The tool also comes with advanced features such as autocomplete, spell check, synonym recognition, and phrase matching, and can be completely customized to match the look and feel of your website.
Standing Out from the Rest
In a competitive industry such as commercial real estate, being able to stand out from the competition is critical.
Arming your website with useful features will not only make the process of searching for real estate more pleasant for your clients, but will also increase your opportunities to close deals.