What makes a good real estate WordPress theme? Most would say design and I agree to a point. But to me the true test of any WordPress theme is its backend ease of use, support and extensibility. This post is geared towards WordPress but the guide can be applied to any template whether it be Drupal, Joomla, or any other CMS.
Things you should look for in a real estate WordPress theme/template.
- Ease of Use (For you and your customers)
- IDX integration
- PayPal option
- Limited plugin dependency
Let’s look at what these mean:
Ease of Use
This is probably the most important of them all. When you finally make that decision to purchase a real estate WordPress theme, your making an investment of not only money but your time, which is equally important.
How many times have you bought something only to be frustrated by how difficult it takes to get it started or make it work properly?
How many times have you bought something only to be frustrated by how difficult it takes to get it started or make it work properly? Buying a theme can be tricky, especially if you can’t test out the backend first (Adding listings, customizing the look and feel to tailor your business, etc..). So you have ask some questions first, take into account the ratings (if any) of the theme and developer. Make sure it’s updated often. It has to be easy enough for you to deploy with minimal skills. Some themes come with many bells and whistles, this can have a reverse effect, making it overly complicated and hard to reproduce the developers demo.
IDX is a great way to populate listings into your site if you don’t have may exclusives or your own properties. There are many IDX plugins to choose from. Most real estate themes for sale will cater to one or two IDX plugins. I’ve heard mixed reviews but the most popular seem to be dsIDXPress or iHomeFinder and some more can be found on WordPress.org plugin repository. Most IDX plugins have a basic free tier but charge $39 a month and up for additional features.
This is totally optional and can be done through other ways but having a pay button to collect fees for applications, credit checks, etc.. makes it easier for your client and you.
Probably the most important thing you judge a theme/template by is the way it looks. It’s true, a well designed theme is pleasing to the eye and intuitive for the user. There are many designs available especially if you search Themeforest for real estate themes.
You also should think about your clients/customers needs. Is the site easy to read? Does it have easy to use search tools? Are the listing pages jammed with information and or intuitive enough that they get all the information in one glance instead of jumping around the page to find certain points of information? Make sure the theme is SEO and tablet/mobile phone friendly. Since most users will be viewing it on a mobile device.
Make sure the help documentation is well laid out and covers some or all of the things you might need to know or important to you. If the theme documentation isn’t available outright, ask the seller to send it to you.
Ask if you can see the backend, sometimes the developer will let you login and check it out, test drive how to add a listing, try adding new amenities, etc… If this option isn’t available, look in the forums or support threads of the theme and see what other customers are talking/complaining about.
Every broker/agent/FSBO has different needs but the basics always stay the same. Price, Bedrooms, Bathrooms, Location, these are the staples of a listing but sometimes they are other things you might want to add. condo charges, maintenance charges, HOA fees, most themes aren’t built by real estate agents so you want to make sure you can customize your theme.
Limited plugin dependency
One of the worst things that can happen to you is if a theme uses to many plugins (custom or otherwise) to power a theme. If one plugin doesn’t get updated it can impact the rest of your theme. Make sure that the theme you choose doesn’t rely on any single plugin.
Think about these things before you buy, it will save you a ton of headaches and countless emails to the developer for support.