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How to Build a Brand: Should You Rent or Own Your Real Estate Website?

Creating a real estate website is one of the most effective ways of growing your brand, generating leads, and demonstrating your knowledge of the industry. It’s not even a question of whether or not you should have a site – with real estate rapidly shifting to digital, having your own site is no longer optional.

One of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make when having a site created is whether to “rent” or own one. It’s the classic real estate dilemma. Here are the pros and cons of each.

Renting versus site ownership: What’s the difference?

What it’s like to rent a site

When you rent a site from a third party provider or a real estate business network to which you belong, you pay a monthly subscription fee to keep your pages live. When you stop paying, your site or page gets removed and will no longer be visible to internet users.

In this kind of set-up, web hosting companies offer a combination of web hosting and a website platform for a bundle price. Your rented site will go live on their proprietary platform.

In most cases, your site can’t be migrated to another web hosting company’s platform.

Rented sites are typically hosted on DIY platforms where agents can either create the site themselves or hire a real estate web design agency to do it for them.

The web hosting company keeps the platform updated and may add other useful features like contact forms, photo sliders, social media integration, ecommerce, and basic search engine optimization (SEO).

The pros and cons of renting your site

Rented sites are a quick and affordable way to get started with site design – agents typically don’t have to deal with large upfront costs. As already mentioned, it is common practice for agents to pay small monthly fees to a web hosting company. The fees for site updates are usually rolled into these monthly payments.

Moreover, the Content Management System (CMS) owner takes over the technical aspects of the site so that you won’t have to concern yourself with troubleshooting and site maintenance.

This allows you to save time and capital, allowing you to redirect more of your resources towards other real estate marketing strategies.

However, a rented site comes with a few disadvantages, including:

  • Migration issues – If you wish to transfer your site because of poor customer service, limited customizable options, or high fees, you will be unable to because your site is on a proprietary framework.

    Because of this, you may be forced to rebuild your site from scratch on the new platform of your choice, redesigning your site and losing any following you may have built up in your old site.

  • Limited customizable solutions – You’ll choose from a collection of static pre-designed templates that only require you to add some photos and real estate copy. While these templates are quick and convenient, they may not be able to fully capture your brand personality the same way a custom site can.

  • Lack of SEO – If your monthly fees don’t include SEO rates, it might be more difficult for your site to rank well in search results.

How site ownership works

How site ownership works

An owned site, on the other hand, is not hosted on a third party’s proprietary platform and can be readily migrated to another web host when necessary. In most cases, an owned site is built on either open source software or hard-coded PHP and HTML.

Open source sites are built on a framework that can be downloaded then shown to internet users as-is or upgraded to include new features with coding.

This applies to both DIY and agency-designed sites – ownership lets you choose and control the platform without the risk of losing data, compromising on site features, and dealing with price increases.

The pros and cons of owning your site

One of the main advantages of owned sites is that the framework on which they’re built can typically be downloaded for free. This gives you more freedom and flexibility should you decide to migrate to another web host in the future.

Moreover, site ownership gives you access to highly-customizable templates, plug-ins, and modules that allow you to integrate a wide range of features and design elements into your site.

You can also choose from a combination of free and paid plug-ins depending on your budget.

But these benefits come at a price. The upfront costs of building an owned site are generally higher than renting one. This means dedicating more of your marketing budget to site ownership.

But this is where you need to stop thinking of costs and start thinking of value because that is what site ownership brings to the table. You don’t just own your site – you also own your data, content, and marketing.

Here’s an illustration of renting a site vs. owning it:

Illustration of Renting vs. Owning Your Website
Illustration of Renting vs. Owning Your Website

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Some final thoughts on rented versus owned sites

There’s no clear-cut answer to this question – your decision will ultimately depend on your marketing needs as an agent. When choosing between renting and site ownership, you need to keep both your short-term and long-term goals into consideration.

Either way, creating your own real estate site is a great decision. It’s a crucial first towards marketing your real estate brand at a time when buyers and sellers rely on the internet for information and decision-making.

Agent Image Marketing creates branded sites to help you build your name as an agent. We do more than creating beautiful designs – we build sites that rank and add value to your brand. That’s why we also offer SEO and customer support to meet your marketing needs. Contact us today for a consultation!


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