Looking to get an inexpensive and professional real estate website?
In this guide I review three of the top real estate website builder options in the industry, all of which allow you to get a professional looking site up and running in 60 minutes or less. After comparing their features, costs, ease-of-use, and customer support, there was one clear winner.
Best Real Estate Website Builder: Zillow Websites
There are three big reasons why we consider Zillow Websites the best real estate website builder for small businesses: it has all the features most real estate businesses would need, is extremely easy to set up, and costs only $10/month. It’s free for Zillow Premier Agents, which is an even better deal.
What’s cheaper than $10 per month for a website? For those willing to invest a little bit of time, you can have a great looking website for less than $4 a month. Read this guide and get your own real estate website up and running in less than an hour.
Zillow Websites vs Placester vs WebsiteBox Comparison Table
Full website for little-to-no cost
Loaded with tools for lead capture & more
Custom website for a one-time fee
Free for Zillow Premier Agents
$99 one time fee
No (but can cancel anytime)
No (30 day money back guarantee)
Ease of Use
Live chat, email, and self-help forums
Phone (M-F 9-5 EST), email, and customer support portal
Phone and email. Priority phone support costs $99 extra.
Have to connect a domain from a third-party (We recommend GoDaddy.)
Connect a domain or get one for $15/year through Website Box
Quality of Site
Size of MLS Network
Lead Capture Features
Capture leads using forms and manage leads
Capture leads passively or actively on every page, export contacts to 3rd party
Capture leads using various forms and manage leads using integrated CRM
Basic email marketing and contact management
Send emails automatically (unlimited emails), email templates, and more
Send emails automatically and email templates
(posts listings to other real estate sites)
Yahoo Real Estate
Syndication to 14 other sites, including Zillow, Oodle, Trulia, and Yahoo Real Estate
Mobile and SEO Friendliness
Additional one-time $99 fee
Does not integrate with specific third-party providers
Does integration with some providers: Contact support about your specific integration
Only integrates with the apps developed by WebsiteBox themselves
Why We Consider Zillow Websites the Best Real Estate Website Builder
The main reason I recommend Zillow’s real estate website builder is its value. It has solid features, is simple to setup, looks professional, and is free for Zillow Premier Agents ($10/month otherwise). There are no other real estate website builders I have tested that provide the same level of value for the price.
When it comes to features, Zillow has got you covered. You can capture leads on any page, include specific MLS listings wherever you want, and even add calculators, area walk scores, and much more anywhere on your site.
The real estate website builder is a cinch to use. Zillow’s agent sites are built on a Wordpress.com platform, which is already pre-configured with all the important pages and widget options (calculators, maps, walk scores, etc). You just choose your template, edit want you want on each page, integrate your MLS, and you are good to go.
Considering you are only paying $10/month, Zillow’s agent sites look very professional.
There are two main cons with Zillow. First, although it is more customizable than Placester, it is not as customizable as some other options, like WebsiteBox. You can edit information, site colors, fonts, and the overall look and feel of your page layout. But, you cannot just drag-and-drop widgets to anywhere on the page. The other con, is that Zillow’s customer support is not the best. Their phone support is nonexistent and their email and live chat can be hit or miss.
Zillow and Website Box are very close on pricing, with Zillow having the slight edge. Placester is definitely the most expensive, but also has the most features and highest site quality.
Zillow’s pricing is pretty straightforward, it is just $10/month. If you are already a Zillow Premier Agent and have an advertising plan, then the website is actually free. The domain name is free for the first year, but costs an additional $20 or so per year after that, which is the only other fee.
Placester has a variety of plans, ranging from $10/month to $300/month. When talking with Placester representatives, they explained that the $10/month option was really more like an online business card than anything. Your info is on the web and it looks good, but you have very little functionality.
If you are interested in Placester, our recommendation is to start out with the $75/month plan. With that, you get most of Placester’s features without having to pay over $100/month.
Website Box base price is a one-time fee of $99. However, there are lots of add-on options that can raise your cost pretty quick, because they are $99/add-on. For example, if you want to blog on your site, that is a one-time $99 upcharge. Or, if you want forced lead capture, that’s $99. A custom domain name is not included, so you’ll have to get one through a third party provider or purchase one through Website Box for $15/year.
Placester definitely has the edge when it comes to overall features, but of course you are paying more as well. WebsiteBox comes in second with Zillow following close behind.
The key question is not which provider has the most features, but which has all the features the average small business realtor or agent would need? Zillow Websites has all the key features you will need for your site.
There are three main things your real estate site needs:
- To integrate with your MLS/IDX provider – This will allow you to automatically feature your listings on your site, which is key. Zillow has a solid MLS/IDX integrator that allows you to include IDX specific searches on your site and also feature individual IDX listings you want to sell.
- A good way to capture leads – Zillow allows you to do that with lead capture forms you can put on any page, which are then automatically added to your contact list. This list can be exported to a provider like Mailchimp, our #1 rated email marketing software provider, where you can then send up to 10,000 emails/month for free.
- Features that will highlight the areas and locations you are selling in – Zillow does a great job with this. As soon as you pick a specific location (via Zipcode) to focus on, a community page is automatically added for that ZIP code. This page automatically populates pictures of the neighborhood, the walk score, school data, market statistics, IDX listings, and more. You can also take any of these widgets off the page and arrange them in whatever order you like on the page.
There are a variety of other widgets you can add onto any page as well, including mortgage calculators, listing slideshows, community event board, open house board, recent blog post list, zillow reviews, recent twitter posts, and more.
In other words, Zillow has all the key features you need without having so many that you are overwhelmed, making it the perfect option for agents looking for a starter site that can grow with their business.
Placester has all the features already discussed and then some, probably more than the average agent would need. It allows you to capture leads either actively or passively. Then, those leads get routed into a lead management system that allows you to assign tasks, write notes, and basically track leads through a pipeline. Placester also includes automated email marketing with its $75/month plan. If you upgrade to their $125/month plan, you also get a map based search function, individual IDX listing pages, and advanced lead capture. If you decide to go all out and get their $300/month plan, you also get automated advertising and $500-$1500 in free advertising credit.
WebsiteBox has a solid feature set as well. They include most of the features that Zillow does, including some extras like an email marketing system that allows you to send up to 1,000 emails to clients. WebsiteBox also includes a basic Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system in its package. However, some other basic features which Zillow has, like blogging, are an additional $99 one-time fee on WebsiteBox.
If you want additional features, you can get them as long as you are willing to pay. You can get an SEO app, to help your site rank better on Google and other similar search engines. There are other add-ons such as forced lead capture, mobile notifications, QR code creator/integrator, a prints app, and more.
For ease-of-use, Zillow Website is the clear winner. Placester is also very simple, but your customizability is more limited than Zillow. WebsiteBox is not bad either, but its builder interface is just overall a bit clunkier and less intuitive.
Zillow is a piece of cake to use. You can see the tabs down the left hand side of the screen. That’s how you change info on your site. Want to add a post? Simply select the “Posts” tab and click “Add new.”
Zillow basically has everything set up for you, including over 30 real estate specific widgets that can be added in seconds to any page (calculators, listings, search, etc). I could go on, but I don’t need to.
The point is that you can have a real estate website set up in 30 minutes or less with little-to-no hassle. And if you need to edit info or want to change your template, you can do that at any time with little-to-no hassle.
Placester, like Zillow Websites, can be setup pretty quickly. Their templates are pretty thorough, and there is a lot of pre-populated structure that makes the setup process pretty smooth. You are basically just editing your logo, name, mls listing content/integration, colors, fonts, etc. You can also choose which search forms to use, from basic to advanced. Although the themes look similar to each other, they are all pretty classy. Once your website is built, managing content, leads, etc. is pretty intuitive. The dashboard is laid out nicely and there are lots of tutorials to help if you get stuck.
Of course, the downside is that your customization options are really limited.
WebsiteBox is also simple to configure and setup. The interface for editing your site is through a bar on the top of your screen. In a lot of ways, it kind of reminds me of a Word or Google Document editing bar.
Honestly, it is not my favorite setup. But, anyone who has had experience with any kind of document software should feel comfortable with WebsiteBox without too much work. You can change layouts, themes, number of columns, colors, logo, font, and quite a bit more. Within a column or the footer/header, you can drag and drop elements around, but you cannot drag-and-drop between layout sections, they are static.
For customer support, Placester is the clear winner. Although Zillow and Website Box both have customer support options, they do not have the options or level of service that Placester has.
- 24 hour: No
- US Based: Yes
- Method of Delivery: Zillow has a very robust self-help portal. This is all most users will need, as the builder is pretty self-explanatory. But, if you want of get ahold of a live person, you are going to have more trouble. Zillow Website has email and live chat support. But, it generally takes 24 hours or so to get a response for a website request. To be honest, Zillow’s personal support is one of their big weaknesses. They do not have any phone support and have a reputation for being hit or miss.
- 24 hour: No
- US Based: Yes
- Method of Delivery: You can get ahold of Placester via phone, email, or customer support portal/ticket. I talked extensively with Emily Radkowski, one of their customer service agents, and she was professional, helpful, and prompt throughout, whether it was on the phone or via email. All in all, I was very satisfied with my customer service experience.
- 24 hour: No
- US Based: Yes
- Method of Delivery: If you want to talk to WebsiteBox, you can use Phone, email, live chat, and customer support portals to do so. Although the chat response was a little slow at times, it was never more than a minute or two in-between my questions and their responses. I learned what I needed to know and the agent I talked to was professional, succinct, and helpful. If you want priority phone support, it will cost you an extra $99.
Domain Options and Template Quality
Placester’s templates are the highest quality, but also the least customizable. Zillow’s templates are a close second in quality, with WebsiteBox right behind. For domain options, Zillow is the best, as it comes with a free custom domain with every plan. WebsiteBox requires you to purchase a domain at an additional cost of $15.99/year or connect one through a third party provider. Placester requires you to connect a domain from another site. Our recommended domain provider is GoDaddy.com.
Here is an example site from each of the providers.
Zillow has 12 main templates to choose from. The design quality is really pretty great for the price. Basically, every page has the option to have a main image or image sliders as the main focal point (as seen above). Below that on every page, the format is separated into two columns, a left and right (the columns are not visible, just for layout purposes). You can add any widget into either the left or right column, and then drag them up and down as desired. It is also possible to put widgets into the footer.
I created the sample site above in 15 minutes.
Placester has 6 main templates for you to choose from. Although they do not have as much variety, the design and graphics are definitely classy. There is some customization you can do to make the site reflect your brand, but it is really pretty limited. I created the above example of a Placester site in about 15 minutes or so, just using stock photos.
WebsiteBox does not have low-quality themes, per-say. It is more accurate to say they just are not the highest quality. But, many realtors/agents will find the quality more than adequate for their needs, especially considering the price. Above is a sample WebsiteBox site.
MLS/IDX integration is another win for Zillow, with Placester not too far behind and WebsiteBox bringing up the rear a good ways back.
Zillow has over 400 MLS directories that it integrates with, which puts it slightly ahead of Placester. In many states, Zillow kills it compared to Placester and WebsiteBox. For example, in my home state of Indiana, Zillow has 19 MLS integrations compared to Placester’s 10 and WebsiteBox’s 3. California is the same. Zillow has over 70 MLS integrations to Placeser’s 41 and WebsiteBox’s 32. There are exceptions, like NY for example, where Placester beats out Zillow with 20 real-estate MLS partners, compared to Zillow’s 18 and WebsiteBox’s 15. But, all in all, Zillow is by far the most connected with MLS/IDX systems.
Placester has over 420 MLS/IDX partners. In most cases, Placester should have you covered when it comes to MLS integration, whether in a big city or in a rural area. Every once in awhile, you might have to create a new integration, which you can request from Placester, although the process can take awhile.
WebsiteBox only has a little over 300 MLS integrations. If you are in well-populated cities, WebsiteBox will probably have you covered. But, as you get more rural, you are going to struggle to find the correct integration.
Listing syndication is when your website provider publishes the listings on your site to other real estate sites automatically. This is where WebsiteBox shines. They syndicate with 14 other real estate listing sites, including Zillow, Oodle, Trulia, and Yahoo Real Estate. Zillow syndicates with Yahoo Real Estate, but that’s about it. Placester does not syndicate with any other real estate sties.
Mobile/SEO Friendliness and Integrations
All three sites are very similar when it comes to Mobile and SEO friendliness. All allow you to edit your meta tags and page descriptions, which are the biggies. They are also all mobilly responsive, meaning they will look good on your visitors cell phone. WebsiteBox does offer a $99 upgrade that can help increase your SEO rank with helpful tools and tricks.
Zillow does not really have any outside integrations to speak of. Placester has the most third-party integrations of the 3 providers, although they not longer offer a list online of who they integrate with. Contact customer support to inquire about your specific integration question. WebsiteBox has built its own in-house add-ons, so they do not support third-party integrations.
Summary: Best Real Estate Website Builder
We recommend Zillow’s real estate website builder. If you desire more customization or are willing to pay for extra features, then WebsiteBox or Placester may be for you. But for most small business real estate agents or brokers, Zillow Websites is a great choice. It will allow you to set up a pro quality real estate website in less than 60 minutes at little-to-no cost, with all the features and functionality you’ll need. That’s a deal that is hard to beat.