Once you launched your real estate agency or an online property management site you need to think of generating traffic, populating your site with properties and making it user-friendly and appealing to visitors. At the initial stage, you may think of your site as an apartment that you just bought and moved in. It is half-empty and poorly furnished. To provide comfort and make it cozy, you need to buy furniture and decorate it. Similarly, your site has only the basic functionality at the start, and the job of any webmaster is to think of plugins, which will make users’ visit to your site more enjoyable.
Over the years, we have received a lot of queries from our users, who wanted to know how to navigate across a multitude of available plugins and single out the ones, which are most relevant to our real estate software. Based on the feedback collected from property site owners and our expertise in property management, we have put together a list of plugins, which we believe, every property site should offer. Spend no more than five minutes reading this post and learn how to give your online business a head start with a set of powerful plugins for our PHP real estate script.
Google Street View
The Google Street View plugin creates a street-view tab that is added to the property details page. After viewing a property the user may then click the street view and get a better visual idea, which will help him assess the property surroundings. The Street View Plugin gives a user a panoramic 360 degree view of the street with the advertised property, better yet, the user may navigate around the panorama with a mouse and even take a virtual tour around a neighborhood. Powered by the Google Maps service, version 3, the Plugin is installed in a few simple clicks and requires no configuration in admin panel. Once active, it allows your users to better evaluate surroundings around a property. The Plugin is FREE.
The Booking Plugin adds a booking system to your property site allowing users to make reservations and rent a property. Once installed the Plugin adds an additional tab to a listing details menu in the user interface. The booking Plugin will show the customer an availability calendar for the property he wishes to rent, and if available, the user may enter the check-in and check-out dates, get a rate, fill in his details, and send a booking request to the owner. On the other end, the Administrator may view all the booking requests for a particular property, add different rates for high and low seasons, and select different color schemes for a calendar. The booking system is essential for the ever-growing tourism and rental markets. The Plugin is FREE.
The Compare Plugin adds a button above the photo gallery in property details allowing the user to add properties to a comparison table. When choosing a property, the user needs to navigate across a wide number of different listings with minor or major differences in details. The Plugin allows the user to add properties of interest to a comparison table, which he may later view in a separate window. The Plugin is flawlessly integrated in our real estate software and once installed, facilitates users’ navigation across multiple similar properties and helps them make a more informed buying decision. The Plugin is PREMIUM.
XML Feed Import/Export Plugin
The XML Feed Import Plugin is intended to help site owners to populate their freshly installed sites with properties in XML format; you also can import listings in XLS/CSV formats using CSV/XLS Import Plugin. You’ll have to find a free or paid source of feeds to import properties from. The Plugin adds a manager with a mapping option to admin panel from where you may import/export a database of properties, more so, the Plugin transfers pictures along with properties with the use of picture archives or URL of imported pictures. Once the import is complete, you get a comprehensive listing archive with picture galleries. The Plugin is essential to the real estate software as it allows you to quickly populate your site with properties. More importantly, estate agents may create profiles and take the benefit of the CSV/XLS/XML Plugin to import properties to their accounts. Both Plugins are PREMIUM.
Claim Your Listing
If you or real estate agents extensively use the XML Import plugin or CSV/XLS Import plugin to populate your site with third party listings, you may end up collecting a multitude of properties not belonging to anyone. The Claim You Listing Plugin adds a “Claim Listing” button to property details page allowing owners to claim their ads. The owner is given three options to verify ownership: by an email assigned to a listing, by an SMS when a phone number is indicated in a listing (requires an account in Clickatell) or by images and other clues helping to confirm ownership. The Plugin generates a manager in admin panel from where you may view all pending listing verification enquiries. The Plugin is PREMIUM.
Search by Distance
The Search by Distance Plugin creates a field in the frontend where a user may enter the zip code, specify the maximum distance from it in miles or kilometers and click –go- button that will bring up a transparent circle on the screen within which the user will see all the active listings presented as red circles. The user may click on any of them to get detailed listing information. Since the Plugin is based on Google Maps APIs service, it delivers accurate and up-to-date location information. The Plugin is flawlessly integrated in the script and provides your users with enhanced search experience. The Plugin is PREMIUM.
The Loan/Mortgage Calculator Plugin adds a box or tab to property details page where a user enters a mortgage amount and period along with an interest rate. The Plugin instantly brings up a loan repayment schedule showing users monthly installments, interest and the remaining amount to be paid. The installation is easy and hassle-free requiring no configuration in back end. The loan calculator is especially useful for a property site since most of the buyers take out a mortgage to buy a property, and therefor need to have a clear repayment schedule. Adding the Plugin to your site will retain users as they won’t have to leave your site to do the arithmetic. The mortgage calculator is equipped with a currency converter allowing users to see repayments in their country’s currency. The Plugin is FREE.
The Price History Plugin creates a special box on property details page in front end. It works by recording price changes and showing them to a user in a table with values such as price changes date, current and prior price differences in percent per square foot and more. To get a better visual idea, the user may opt for a line chart where the price changes are shown as fluctuations in a horizontal axis. The plugin is installed smoothly in back end and requires no configuration from you. The Plugin helps users to see the price dynamics of a property, which had been on sale for a long time. Seeing the changes, the user may take a more informed buying decision and find the most opportune time for buying a property. The Plugin is FREE.
The Location Finder Plugin adds the Google Maps to the Add/Edit a Listing step above or below location-related fields identifying a user location on the Maps by his IP. The user may move the marker and position it right over the listing location to make it more accurate. Furthermore, the map marker is synced with location fields meaning if you reposition the marker or move it to a different location, the fields will be automatically filled with accurate marker location. As the Plugin is based on Google Maps, you may rest assured that the information is always accurate and up-to-date. The Plugin is FREE.
The Listing Boxes Plugin may appear virtually on all pages of your site. They help users easier navigate across your site and promptly locate properties matching their preferences. In back end, the Administrator is presented with a range of options regarding the creation and placement of various boxes. To start with, you may create random, popular, featured and recently added boxes and choose the number of properties to be displayed in them. Furthermore, you may choose to display listing boxes horizontally or vertically and select a page on your site where a listing box will be placed. The Plugin is FREE.
Nearby Schools (Coming Soon)
The Plugin shows all nearby schools found in the proximity to a property selected by a user. The schools are grouped based on rating, type, grade level and distance from a given property. If you click a school link you’ll be taken to a US school rating agency where you may obtain more detailed information, such as reviews, knowledge scores on particular subjects, school contact information, and more. The Administrator may choose a number of schools, which will be displayed in results as well as the radius, within which the schools will be shown. The Plugin is FREE.
Your job as a webmaster is to make users feel welcome and at home on your site so that they would spend more time on it, come back again, thus bringing an added value to your property site. Do not settle for the basic functionality because your site needs to give users much more than that. With the basic real estate software you might certainly attract some visitors, but the main question is “will they come back again?” Retaining users and turning them into regulars is a task more challenging than simply launching a website. If you add the right plugins to your website, you may rest assured that this will eventually pay off and your real estate site will be a welcome place for users.