Property Quick Search – Real Estate Website Theme Design Series Part Four

Emerge_from_the_Cave

The ubiquitous Property Quick Search has been a tough design element to evolve beyond.
Everyone seems to have one, but is it necessary?

QuickSearch

I only ask because there is a solid argument against its value.

Argument Against a Property Quick Search

It’s a sure bet that the visitors that you attract to your site aren’t actively looking for a way to search through MLS listings in the area.

You have already lost the battle for Top of Mind when it comes to “Where do I go to start searching for properties?” Today Realtor.com, Trulia, Redfin, and Zillow are the answer.

I bet most agents wouldn’t even think to use their own site first when starting a property search.

I bet most agents wouldn’t even think to use their own site first when starting a property search.

The final nail in this coffin is that the tablet and smartphone apps (for the above) are impossible to compete with as an agent. The big companies have budgets that allow for incredibly engaging features that home-searchers are now used to and expect.

So if this is the case, is it worth dedicating valuable website pixels to something that might prove to be unnecessary?

Argument For a Property Quick Search

Just because they aren’t thinking of you (your site) when initiating a search, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t offer one.

I say keep it. Just don’t act like your audience came looking for it

While your audience is on your site, you might as well make it clear to them that you have the tools they need to see current listings. Afterall, enticing them into your IDX program is part of your lead-capture strategy: Look a listings, save listings, inquire about listings, sign-up to be notified of new listings.

One of the main goals of having a website is to engage them into recognizing that you are of value to them. This is accomplished through first impressions, relevant content, and tools. The PQS is one of those tools. So I say keep it. Just don’t act like your audience came looking for it.

NOTE: the Niche Site is another great argument for including an obvious PQS. If your site is designed for a particular niche: Foreclosures/Shortsales, Rentals, Limited Neighborhoods/Communities/Subdivisions/Buildings you just might be doing your audience a favor by making their introduction more convenient.

We have designed a ton of custom sites that mostly include a Property Quick Search. Here are some of the things our clients take into consideration.

Placement:
Front and center: example
Horizontal: example
Vertical: example
Sidebar: example

Common Elements:
It’s a “quick search” so save the additional search options for a full/advanced search.
Location
Price
Beds
Baths
Property type
Search Button

Additional Navigation
The idea is that the PQS has gotten their attention, but and they may like one of the below options instead of the quick search.
Map Search – Not all IDX’s offer this option.
Advanced Search
Get Listing Alerts

As with every important element of your website’s design, your decisions about placement and options for the Property Quick Search should be governed by the audience you are targeting. What are they expecting when they arrive on your site? What first impression do you want to make? What are the most important calls-to-action to offer your audience? Answer these first before deciding on the hierarchy of your site’s design elements.

My suggestions:
Start with a clear pitch, make them graphically exciting, and keep them as simple as possible.

Tip: Don’t use the IDX provided quick search widget. Rarely are they customizable. This will cause issues with placement, colors, and size.

Stay tuned for Part Five where we will cover Sidebar Strategies.

Don’t miss earlier installments of this series: 

Part 1: The Header
Part 2: Navigation
Part 3: Calls-To-Action