The real estate industry is undergoing significant shifts after COVID-19. According to a National Association of Realtors® report, 97% of homebuyers last year used the Internet in their home search, and 69% of their realtor members have a website. Mobile apps and websites are now the primary modes of real estate research. Along with remote working, video and virtual house tours have become mainstream. Moreover, buyers and sellers increasingly demand a digital experience that’s fast, visually appealing, and user-friendly.
Finally, broader changes like Google’s Core Web Vitals, which measures every website’s performance and impacts the search rankings, can significantly affect your web traffic and deal flow.
These business and technical challenges can be daunting if you operate a real estate website or manage a real estate marketplace. However, with every challenge, there's an opportunity. By applying some performance best practices, your website or real estate app can stand out from the competition. In the rest of this article, we’ll show you eight ways to improve your web performance while saving time and money.
1. Make your images high-quality and fast loading
High-quality visual media is crucial to successful real estate websites, but it’s hard to maintain the balance between high-resolution images and videos and fast page speed. The larger an image, the slower a page loads. Because images account for 75% of the page weight on today’s websites, they have an outsized impact on loading and visual stability. Technology like imgix means you can get the optimal balance between page speed and visual quality while saving time and effort. For example, the leading Canadian real estate marketplace, Real Estate Wire (REW), chose imgix for a suite of transformations, including dynamic image sizing and image compression. As a result, REW slashed image processing time by 96%, cut processing costs by 70%, and freed up the engineering team to focus on the core product.
2. Improve mobile responsiveness
The NAR® found that 76% of homebuyers used a mobile or tablet for their home search. Not optimizing your mobile responsiveness means missing out on a large share of potential customers. A responsive design can adapt your site to fit any device’s screen, which is crucial for usability. Make sure your visual media adjust with the rest of your site for maximum impact.
3. Optimize and encode videos to avoid stalling
Videos add tremendous value to real estate websites. A recent report on real estate tech trends found that 59% of buyers use videos in their search. In addition, 73% of homeowners say they are likelier to list with a realtor who offers to create a video. And as virtual open houses become more popular since the pandemic, showing high-quality videos with great production value can increase purchase intent. But video buffering or stalling can be a turnoff to your audience, whether they are on the buying or selling side. A video optimization API like the one from imgix can deliver a rich and smooth viewing experience in any environment, with minimum effort.
4. Use a fast and reliable image CDN
Using a CDN built for visual media means that you can improve page speed, site reliability, and the visual experience. As remote work and virtual home showings become the norm, a CDN with wide geographic distribution can help you reach all your potential customers, no matter where they are. You can save bandwidth significantly with images and videos intelligently optimized and cached. Furthermore, you can eliminate file redundancy and save storage costs by transforming images on the fly.
5. Programmatically process user-generated images
Many real estate websites source images and videos from listing systems (such as the MLS), sellers, and developers. These assets come in various formats, styles, and production qualities, making it hard to maintain visual consistency. Whether you want to automate user-generated image (UGI) processing or standardize the visual style, platforms like imgix can significantly save time and effort.
6. Make your site accessible
Speaking of access, now is the time to adopt the Guidance on Web Accessibility and the ADA (the Americans with Disabilities Act), as real estate sites are frequent lawsuit targets for non-compliance. Real estate websites can be tricky to design for accessibility since most contain hundreds of listing pages that are often image-heavy. According to the ADA, for sites to comply, they must meet the following standards, including (but not limited to):
- All images must contain alt text so that screen readers can read them.
- Video content needs to have text captions.
- Audio and video content need transcripts or descriptions.
- Any audio that plays can be stopped immediately.
8. Use a fast and reliable hosting service
Hosting isn’t just for open houses. Your digital hosting is a fundamental part of any website, and cloud-native hosting services like Vercel or Netlify can help you to deploy your real estate site much faster and scale it with ease. This frees up valuable engineering and IT resources for other critical workloads.
One Solution for All Your Visual Media Needs
As technology and consumer shifts, real estate discoveries and purchases will become increasingly digital, if not digital-first, in the coming years. Your online presence is more important than ever. By optimizing web performance, you can increase visibility, create a more delightful digital experience, and ultimately grow a dynamic ecosystem of buyers and sellers. Check out the following resources to see how imgix can future-proof your visual media needs.