Before you start creating a spreadsheet to see which website might be the best fit, I invite you to consider that there are key features that you deserve, regardless of who provides the solution. Since each professional's needs and budget are different, consider the following guidelines before making a purchase.
What are you goals? - Are you considering a website for exposure or for leads? If you want a website just to put on your business card then you can save quite a bit of money. It won't generate any leads for you, but at least you will have a "presence" online. Deciding on what the goals are for your website will help you to budget accordingly.
Traffic Strategy - In order for a website to generate any business for you, it absolutely must have a traffic strategy. It's nice to say that the search engines will find your site; however, if you just wait on the Google, Yahoo, and Bing you will be waiting a long time to get a customer. A traffic strategy should include a balance of search engine traffic, pay per click traffic, offline traffic and more! When you have a balanced traffic strategy you will be able to get leads that you can turn into customers daily.
Conversion Strategy - To turn traffic into leads for your real estate business consider having a consistent conversion strategy. A conversion strategy should encompass converting that traffic into a lead AND turning those leads into appointments. A website should provide you with powerful headlines and focused scripts that will turn those internet leads into people wanting to come in and meet with you. Every prospect is an opportunity for another commission and having a powerful conversion strategy will help you to make the most from your leads.
Follow up Methods - Although it would be great to be able to convert every lead from your website into an appointment it doesn't always happen on the first phone call. For those prospects that you can't immediately get a hold of consider having a well planned email follow up campaign. The best websites have auto responders that appear natural, encourage prospects to call and email, and stay in touch with your leads for 42-90+ days!
Engaging Content - The content of your website can't just be composed of "top 5 tips" that prospects really don't care about. In order for your website to generate leads for your business it should have unique and compelling content about neighborhoods and engage empower the reader to ask for more help when they want listings or are actually ready to purchase.
No matter who you decide to get a website from, consider the above 5 tips and evaluate the solution to ensure that it meets your guidelines. A good real estate website will provide you with a return on your investment every month!