How to Build A Real Estate Website like Zillow and Make it Thrive?

How to Build A Real Estate Website like Zillow and Make it Thrive?

・16 min read
How to Build A Real Estate Website like Zillow and Make it Thrive?

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Regardless of the challenges, the real estate market continues to demonstrate remarkable resilience. Having a website for your real estate business is very important, no matter if you are a broker or a real estate agent. Over 90% of real estate firms have websites. According to the National Association of Realtors,81% of Older Millennials, 80% of Younger Millennials, and 78% of Generation X found their home on a mobile device compared to 68% of Younger Boomers. 92% of real estate websites have one common feature, and that is “Real Estate Listings.” Newest technologies like augmented reality, 3D walkthroughs, and video showcasing speed up the deals even more.

This article is designed to guide startups in real estate or those striving for sustainability, through the intricacies of creating a real estate website akin to Zillow.

What will you learn from this article:

  • How have technologies like augmented reality and 3D walkthroughs impacted the real estate industry?
  • What was the key to Zillow's success in the real estate market?
  • How to develop a real estate website similar to Zillow?
  • What are the main differences between an agency app and a third-party model in real estate app development?
  • Monetization strategies for real estate websites.
  • How to select a Real Estate Software Development Company?

Why is Zillow (Real Estate Business) so Successful?

Zillow’s story started back in 2004 when Lloyd Frink and Rich Barton, two former top Microsoft officials, teamed up to create a platform that could assess a home's worth and rental prices. They unveiled a website of real estate data from 300 cities the following year. A million people visited the platform in the first three days to "Zestimate" their homes' worth.

Since its monetization strategy includes advertising and endorsing brokers and agents, Zillow has evolved into something more than a property listing website since its launch. According to Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group:

We are a media company. We sell advertising. Having a large audience is critical.

Why Invest in Real Estate Websites?

We can see how our customers profit from their websites as suppliers of real estate website development services.

Why invest in real estate app development

Before I get into the specifics, I'd like to make a few basic points on why you should create a new website or update an old one.

So, how do you make the most of your real estate website?

#1. Save Time, Get Qualified Leads

First, a decent website helps prospective home buyers go down the property collection funnel without having to call you (or your employees) for clarification. As a result, there is less time spent dealing with warm customers? Using analytics services, you'll be able to detect interest in one or more house pages.

You may want your real estate developers to incorporate a live chat into the platform to remove the lack of simple support (e.g., Intercom, Zendesk, Clickdesk).

As previously reported, 63% of millennials favor live chats for simple assistance. It's impossible to disregard their interests, considering that they pay for 45% of all mortgages. (Of course, having a web presence is one of them.)

As a result, you not only save time answering questions, but you also get qualified leads that know exactly what they want.

#2. Survive the Digital Era

It is preferable for agents and companies to create a real estate platform rather than stay offline or provide a poorly built one. There are far too many future customers on the internet for you to ignore it.

#3. Get a Powerful Advertising

The last and the most important factor is advertising. The internet offers countless ways to attract more customers by marketing:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM) \— higher rank to produce further leads for related keywords.
  • Pay-per-click marketing (PPC) \— place advertisements all over the internet to make more people know about you.
  • Content marketing \— write blog posts, shoot videos on real estate issues (e.g., how to pick a house), and record podcasts natively to assist people in solving their challenges while also promoting the services.
  • Others (e.g., email marketing, affiliate marketing).

The best thing is that you can pay very little to no money. Online marketing is acceptable for any budget.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Develop a Real Estate Website like Zillow

A step-by-step guide to develop a real estate website like zillow

If you wish to extend your business like Zillow, here are the steps you should consider to make an impressive real estate website.

Step # 1: Validate Your Idea

Before we get through the realtor app creator, let's talk about the idea's feasibility.

The concept of such an app is ridiculous at first sight. Since house buying and sale has been achieved for decades without the use of applications or software. So, what's the big thing with having an app right now?

We can’t ignore the fact that the Global Real Estate Software Market is expanding immensely. According to a Real Estate Software Market Forecast report, the market is estimated to reach $8.9 billion by 2025 with a CAGR of 8.2% from 2020 to 2025.

Here’re some crucial points to validate your idea.

Better Mobility

Is it going to be better for consumers to browse properties on their smartphones?

Yes, it's possible. In any case, they use their phones for everything else. Users will search for property on the go with these applications if you create the correct one. There's no reason for them to go to every possible house and location. They will use the app to look over a home or apartment's specifics to see how it suits their needs.

Location Centric

location centric in custom real estate software

Any smartphone has a geolocation capability, making location-based searches easy. As a result, it's no wonder that consumers can perform location-based searches and conveniently identify nearby places. It's easy with Zillow's real estate app. Have this in mind.

Instant notification

It's the instant gratification era, and people want stuff instantly. They don't want to wait weeks for property information; they want it now, or at the very least when it becomes accessible. As a result, real estate applications are becoming increasingly important for consumers searching for the ideal home.

Providing Better Customer Support

The real estate industry is difficult, but you can make it easier by developing your real estate app. To get through this, the clients need good customer service. And an app would be the ideal platform for the job. Features such as frequent and straightforward communication with clients would make it simple to have a positive relationship.

better customer support in app for real estate development solutions

The Direct Marketing Facility

Real estate applications are the most effective tool for specifically marketing your company to customers. There is no third-party interference or spam. It will not only draw in more clients, resulting in more sales and income, but it will also keep your customers satisfied with your business.

Stand Out Among The Competition

You can have a more splendid view of your customers and keep up with the industry dynamics if you use an app. Not to mention, having a customized app for buying and selling real estate would help you stand out in the industry and attract more clients.

Now that we've established that real estate app creation is a viable option, we need to discuss the two types of apps that can be developed.

Step # 2: Know the Types of App

You should know the various types of apps when recruiting a freelancer or a real estate app creation firm.

There are two kinds of applications based on how they work when it comes to real estate mobile app creation. The first is a third-party app, and the second is an agency-based app. How do these applications work? Let's take a look:

The Agency App

The agency app, as its name implies, is dedicated to specific real estate agencies. The agency app, which serves as the company's digital face, shows all of the houses under their listing and their agents for easier access by customers.

The agency app allows them to track their market progress, such as how many customers are engaging with the app and the users' needs. It's essentially a better tool for business management and development.

The Third-Party Model

The aggregator or third-party model serves as a middleman between customers and agents. The third-party model differs from the agency app in terms of how it works.

Users may register as either buyers or sellers or as freelancer agents. The app allows freelancing agents to upload their listings and extend their network.

third-party model serves as a middleman between property buyers and agents

On the other hand, the customer can call local agents, browse their lists, and search for homes that attract them.

Sellers can create an account and ask brokers about the property they wish to sell. The third-party app essentially serves as a forum for agents and buyers/sellers to connect efficiently and quickly.

Once you've settled on an interface format, the next move is to think about what functionality you want in your real estate smartphone app.

Step # 3: Create a List of Must-Have Features

Knowing what features your app or website will offer to the user is very important. You cannot start building the app without working on this step.


Both customers and real estate brokers must first sign up to supply their names and email addresses to use the app. For an online marketplace like Zillow, a social login feature is needed. Users who register with Facebook or Google will skip long signup forms and sign up for the platform with a single click.

Property Listings Page

Example of listing page from real estate marketplaces

Another important aspect is customers' ability to access all properties identified by a specific agent and sort them using filters such as place, price, and floor.

Zillow has a popular and user-friendly search engine with a range of filters for various types of listings. Customers may specify their preferences in terms of price, location, home-style, and number of beds, among other things.

Property View

This page gives customers a concise real estate overview and several photographs that enable them to see the property from various perspectives and in-depth. For example, Zillow has an insightful and appealing property display page that includes details such as a property summary with several photos, property statistics, neighborhood home prices, and so on.

You can use AR/VR technologies to give your online real estate marketplace a competitive edge. Sotheby's International Realty, for example, uses 360-degree images to provide clients with an unrestricted view.


The messaging functionality is ideal for such a marketplace since the real estate industry is all about connectivity. Users can share all information directly on the website using real-time messaging.

Map Integration

The geolocation and location search allows customers to locate properties nearby. For instance, Zillow offers map integrations, so users can search location addresses, choose a property close to a particular location, and access local neighborhood information by clicking on the map.

Real Estate solutions offers map integrations

Furthermore, Zillow's map contains a draw function that allows customers to circle specific areas on the map with their fingers, and the map will show them anything of interest in that area.

Step # 4: Decide on the UI/UX of the App

After deciding on the list of top features, it is important to create a list of options available to design UI/UX.

User-Focused Approach

We believe that in web design for real estate, the user-centered philosophy should come first and foremost. The days of the web viewer obediently embracing what the website owner offered are long gone.

User-Focused approach while building a real estate platform

What do visitors to my website expect to see? User demands should be considered carefully during the ideation stage. It will assist you in determining the best course of action. Investigate your rivals' websites to learn about their strengths and weaknesses.

A successful web design not only appeals to a customer's eye and assists them in discovering what they're searching for, but it also boosts the productivity of your online business by:

  • Reducing the burden on a Support team
  • Improving site database and infrastructure
  • Increase leads and conversions
  • Reduce training costs

Usability vs. Aesthetics

When it comes to usability research, a fancy website with many "cool and trendy" animations sometimes fails. Fantastic design strategies often draw customers without helping a website accomplish its target.

Here are some of the most popular blunders made by stunning yet unfriendly real estate websites:

  • Non-friendly navigation bar
  • Complex menus
  • Non-mobile-friendly UI
  • Bugs with broken links
  • High load time

The final element is just as critical as the first in deciding your site's web location for both visitors and search engines.

Did you know that every second person likes to search through a well-designed website and that 75% of users' impressions of a website are highly affected by its aesthetics?

Intuitive navigation

Tenants, landlords, and property agents who access a real estate website expect an enjoyable consumer experience driven by navigation. Unfortunately, not all websites have a detailed menu, so users must rely on the stars to find their way around.

To determine if the site's navigation is user-friendly, apply the three-click rule: if you can access the required content in three clicks, then the sitemap and menu navigation is user-friendly.

Powerful search tools

People use the real estate website for many reasons. The property listings, to be precise.

A robust live search feature should be included with any website design for realtors to provide clients with the best possible “shopping experience.”

The genius idea is to encourage users to search using specific special criteria to relate to, such as lifestyle. They will see it as an experience rather than just a property. Montecito Real Estate features beachfront homes, homes with hiking trails or tennis courts, ranches and gardens, and much more.

Check out one of our Real Estate projects: BODE

Step # 5: Decide how to choose a real estate software development company?

To design and build a Zillow-like website, you need expert help. Contacting and hiring a third-party development company is a tricky job. Before heading ahead in this step, you should answer the following questions:

  • How do you find the best outsourcing partner?
  • Where to start?
  • What should your requirements look like?

Here's how you can select a custom software development company:

Evaluate the Company Profile

Pay close attention to who they are and what they do. Do not put them on your list of potential candidates just because they came to you, but on the other hand, don’t cross them out straight away.

Evaluate the following points:

  • Client reviews published by the company on their website and posted by clients on their social platforms.
  • Take a look at their portfolio and case studies such as e.g. Breezeway or Bode
  • Ask about the structure and type of management company have

Evaluate the Vendor Approach

You can take different approaches to choose the right partner:

  • Price-oriented approach
    • Price is the easiest and quickest advantage to compare, and if you are on a budget, it will influence the final decision.
  • Experience-oriented approach
    • Choose the vendor based on their experience with companies within the same sector as you.
  • Management-oriented approach
    • It refers to the vendor company management process, such as how they run their projects, how they handle communication and your role in the process. The most popular approach is using Agile methodologies.
  • Communication-oriented approach
    • It is an approach where you see how the company has handled communication with its clients and how well their requirements have been met.

Step # 6: Monetization Strategy - How to make money with a Real Estate Website?

To make money, a real estate website can offer the following promotion programs to its users:

Premier Services for Agents - Real estate agents who pay the website to run advertisements and collect leads can be registered as Premier Services. The following charges can be levied off from the agents.

  • The cost per 1000 ad views is known as the cost per ad impression.
  • The cost of a lead will range from $20 to $60.

Monetization strategy in real estate company

Promotions - By selling promotions, a real estate website can be geared toward real estate companies. Real estate firms are targeted for sales promotions.

Advertisement - By selling advertising space to lenders, mortgage providers, and other companies, the website can make huge profits as these companies have immense marketing budgets. The platform can charge a fee based on the number of leads produced.

Subscriptions - The mortgage subscription model, meaning that the portal links custom quotation facilities with the management platform. It can be marketed to brokers and agents for selling subscriptions.

Final Thoughts

Constructing a successful real estate website requires meticulous planning and a strategic approach but is not as daunting as it might initially appear. With a clear understanding of your target audience and a solid foundation of how to establish your online presence, you can create a platform that not only stands out but also significantly contributes to your business's growth.

Constructing a successful real estate website requires meticulous planning and a strategic approach but is not as daunting as it might initially appear. With a clear understanding of your target audience and a solid foundation of how to establish your online presence, you can create a platform that not only stands out but also significantly contributes to your business's growth.

The journey of prominent real estate companies, highlighted by attractive, user-friendly website designs, underscores the importance of a strong digital footprint in today's market. By focusing on delivering value through detailed market insights, embracing cutting-edge technologies, and implementing effective monetization strategies, your website can become a pivotal tool in navigating the competitive landscape of the real estate industry.

Remember, the objective is not just to create a website but to build a comprehensive online ecosystem that supports your business goals, engages users effectively, and fosters long-term customer relationships. By adhering to the principles of expertise, accuracy, transparency, and comprehension, and by continually striving to enhance the depth and quality of your content, your real estate website can achieve and even surpass the success of industry benchmarks like Zillow.

In summary, while the task may seem complex, with the right approach and resources, developing a thriving real estate website is an attainable and highly rewarding endeavor.

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