SW Chicago Suburbs Real Estate Website Has a New Look in 2015

Posted by Judy Orr on Monday, March 9th, 2015 at 7:37pm.

If you've been using this website for SW Chicago Suburbs real estate, you might have been surprised when you saw the new look.  It's a drastic change in appearance and functionality.  If you created a home search on my prior site you'll have to create a new one now.  We apologize for any inconvenience.

Why Did We Change - Once Again?

prior chicago suburbs real estate website template
Our prior southwest Chicago suburbs real estate website template

I love using Wordpress and there are some fantastic real estate themes available.  I liked a particular Wordpress theme and found a website provider that offered that theme with some bells and whistles at a somewhat reasonable cost.  However, in the scheme of things, that cost ended up being less of a savings than I thought it would be when I added the separate home search to the site.  I knew the price would be a bit higher but I thought it would be worth it in the long run.

An issue that caused me to switch in the first place in 2013 was the lack of customization on a site like this compared to a Wordpress site.  There still isn't as much customization as I had with my Wordpress theme, but the rest of this new template offers enough to make the change worthwhile.

I switched last time because I wanted a true mobile responsive site

A big issue for the prior switch was that my site provider wasn't quite mobile responsive.  They are a very progressive company and I was surprised they weren't there yet.  My template looked old fashioned to me & didn't look so good on a phone.  Now this site is truly mobile responsive and you can even set up an app for your phone by going to the bottom left footer on any page of this website.

As soon as I switched to my prior theme it became outdated

This is an issue with many website providers.  Like fashion, website appearances change.  Very boxy sites that don't fit on the full screen are from the past.  Full width sites are in vogue now.  Big pictures are now the style, where in the past we wanted our words showing as high up on a site as possible.  

Very soon after I switched to a Wordpress site in 2013 the styles changed and the template I loved looked outdated to me.  I wanted one of the new looks and to get that new look with the provider I was with would have cost over a thousand dollars.  I could have received a similar theme for much less elsewhere, so I knew I was going to leave.

Lo and behold, I get an e-mail from my current website provider with a holiday sale and it was an offer I couldn't refuse.  Another reason I left them in the past was because I didn't care for any of their templates, but this sale encompassed the new style and I went back.  I'm glad I did because they have a lot of new things coming down the pipeline and there's a lot of excitement in this company.

I wanted a better home search

search results for an orland park townhouse for sale

I wasn't happy with the search results detail pages on my site I had before changing to Wordpress in 2013. There wasn't enough information on each listing.  Other home searches offered so much more.  They didn't look as nice, but as a buyer myself, I prefer more details such as room sizes.

I remember the lack of information when I searched for my Scottsdale Townhouse in Las Hadas Villas.  Most of the listings didn't have room sizes and my agent informed me that it wasn't easy finding attached properties that allow renting and pets because agents didn't put that information in.  It happens here, too, and I don't know why.  The more information we put on our listings, the more likely all the buyers that might be interested will see it.  But I can't speak for other agents.

So I used a third party home search provider (called IDX).  I was very confused as to which IDX was best, so I chose a popular provider.  However, it wasn't a seamless search.  You had to create it on a sub-domain of your website.  Some said it didn't make a difference, some said it wasn't a good idea.  I got most of the IDX pages indexed in Google, and I'm still not sure how much of a difference Google viewed that IDX compared to this one, but these websites are known to be very search engine friendly.

However, I did have to add some customizations to the IDX search on this site.  I added more information on each listing's details page.  I added real estate taxes, association fees, pet information for attached properties and room details and sizes.  It was an upgrade I had to pay extra for, but I decided to create a great site that was easy to use and would provide a lot of information.  The photo above shows days on market, room details and listing history.

I used a new domain name

When I switched to my Wordpress site in 2013 I decided to start all over with a new domain name.  My prior domain was cook-county-real-estate.net, and I felt it was too limiting, especially since moving to the Homer Glen/Orland Park area.  I've always worked in both Cook & Will counties, and I wanted a domain name that was somewhat descriptive to my service area but not limiting.

I lost my search engine positions anyway

I used to be #1-#3 if you searched for Orland Park real estate or Homer Glen homes, for example. Google went through an algorithm change and all of a sudden, the big 3rd party real estate portals took over the local agent/broker websites.  The only way we can compete is to now use ppc (pay per click).  I never had to do this in the past.  I got those top positions with a lot of hard work and blogging.  Now very few local sites appear on the first page in Google, and we all think it's very unfair, since we offer local information and more accurate listing information.  

Because of this, it was much easier to switch to a brand new domain name that had no prior history in Google.  And because I switched from Wordpress back to this provider, I had to manually switch over every prior page and blog post.  It took a couple months, and I'm still fine tuning things.  We hope you enjoy the new look, find it easy to use and like the home search and results pages.

You can still do the following:

  • Create a custom IDX search using area, price, number of bedrooms, number of baths and other requirements.  You can use a polygon search to hone in on a specific area or a radius search.
  • Some people prefer to search by map, and you can do it that way if you prefer.
  • You can save your searches or have me create an Automated Home Search directly from our MLS (multiple listing service).
  • Sellers can request a full Comparative Market Analysis on your home by filling out this form.
  • Sellers can also get a free and instant market report of current Active listings near your home (remember to keep your radius as close to your property as possible for a more accurate comparison).
  • Keep reading the blog for up-to-date real estate and local information and news.

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