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Gavamedia Vs. WordPress

Why We Don’t Use WordPress for Real Estate Websites Anymore

Your website needs to be easy to update like WordPress — but made for REALTORS®

There are tons of Content Management Systems, or CMSs — and WordPress is definitely the most used. Because WordPress is so popular, you might imagine it’s what your web developer needs to use. Don’t be so sure…

A professional chooses the right tool for the job

WordPress used to be our go-to web-building tool. Over time, we started hitting its limitations — and there are plenty. We used workaround after workaround, and eventually, it became more beneficial for us to build our own custom CMS, built specifically for real estate.

WordPress isn’t bad; it’s just not the best for real estate websites

The REALTOR® and Broker websites we build are custom-designed for real estate. To showcase the latest MLS® listings with IDX, while still being Search Engine Optimized (SEO), requires the best in technology. Our sites must be fully secure, speedy, and show the latest IDX listings. Because we’re always adding new features, like the ability to search for kitchens, a pre-packaged system like WordPress can’t keep up.

WordPress is good for simple websites. Only a few minutes after installation, you may have a complete, running website. But a site that meets the precise needs of real estate calls for loads of things WordPress doesn’t do well. For our developers to construct the best websites for REALTORS®, we can’t allow constraints and problems limiting us … and ultimately, you. When we construct a real estate website, we want maximum features, flexibility, and speed. Right here is where WordPress doesn’t deliver.
Real Estate WordPress

7 huge reasons we don’t use WordPress for real estate websites:

#1 WordPress is plagued with security problems — and they’re not going away

Being the most famous CMS isn't always good in relation to security. WordPress sites are hacker magnets, and we don't want you to fall victim. Thousands of WordPress real estate sites are hacked each year. You probably know someone whose WordPress site was hacked. In fact, in 2016, the internet security agency Sucuri revealed that 78% of hacked websites were WordPress sites.

For example, WordPress sites are the number one target of brute force attacks. Hackers build automated “bots” that search the internet, looking for sites built on WordPress. Once a bot finds a WordPress site, it sends its attack scripts … which includes a script that attempts usernames and passwords for your login. It tries again and again, until it breaks in.

Even though WordPress is built by one development team, they don’t build the plugins. Thousands of the plugins expose you to security holes by accident, and hackers will find them. Other, more malicious developers, intentionally add security vulnerabilities to their plugins, and then sell your login and password to bad actors.

Yes, WordPress’ security problems can be managed. But it requires work and constant monitoring to keep a WordPress website secure. We'd rather commit time and money making you the best real estate website, than spend it coping with WordPress’ avoidable security problems.

#2 Themes seem great — but the greatness is limited

A theme is a pre-built layout. It’s basically the design of your real estate website. There are handsome themes for as low as ten or twelve bucks. In theory, you pick a theme, make a few changes, pay for a WordPress IDX plugin, and you’re done. If only anything were that easy…

Themes are okay for non-developers. But a theme isn't a good starting point for professional web teams. Themes are rarely constructed to meet basic code standards. All too frequently, there are troubles visible on cell phones, tablets, or older PCs. If the theme’s coding is subpar, we found we had to spend time fixing it’s problems, or ultimately scrap it altogether.

For custom designs that match your broker’s brand, a pre-built theme won’t work at all. As soon as you need more customizing than just the logo, the theme starts to break down fast.

This isn’t acceptable for us. Our clients need to be able to change the look and feel of their website, add new IDX map features, or simply update things because they want to. We need to have the ability to allow this, without limits. A pre-built theme that doesn’t adhere to quality coding standards is not right, and can make modifications too difficult.

#3 Automatic upgrades happen constantly (and aren’t always a good thing)

WordPress often releases minor improvements and security updates. To make updates simpler, WordPress now automates this. So whenever a new edition of WordPress is available, it will be installed to your website automatically. That sounds like a good idea, except it can backfire…

One of our competitors told us this horror story, and it’s all too common. As they setup a WordPress site for a new REALTOR®, they recalled another real estate site they made with a theme their new client liked. So they went back to revisit the old site, only to find that it looked horrible, and was no longer usable. They panicked while they realized WordPress had been routinely updating, and the theme broke as result — and it was broken for some time. This type of breakage can occur with your theme, or any of the handfuls of plugins in use, when you have automated updates turned on.

If you don’t use automatic updates, you must rely on your development team to stay on top of them. Updates are released every month — and REALTOR® plugins and themes may need to be modified to still work properly. That’s a lot of work simply to ensure your site is safe. We would rather make your website faster, have new MLS® search features, or focus on the best SEO.

#4 Plugins: Thousands of opportunities to increase security risks, and slow down your site

Any novice programmer can make a WordPress plugin. There are almost fifty-thousand plugins as of this writing. With such variety, you must be able to find that one perfect plugin, with all the capabilities you need, right? A contact form, MLS® search, a Google map with listings on it, a photo gallery… You will probably find many plugins for each of these features.

And not all plugins are created equal. Plugins are the biggest cause of website hacks. If they’re made by an inexperienced developer, or they’re not carefully maintained, they will introduce security risks. Even a contact form can expose you to hacking, using an exploit called SQL injection. Worse still, the more plugins you use, the more chances there are for conflicts between them. A plugin conflict can even make another plugin stop working. Or it could even crash your whole website.

And more plugins mean more things to slow down your site, making it take longer to load. It’s not uncommon to have fifty or more plugins on one site. And with all these elements, your website now has a lot of points of failure.

Plugins require regular maintenance, and the more you have installed, the more time is needed. Instead, we spend our time making your website first-rate, rather than locating, testing, and maintaining tons of plugins.

#5 “Free” isn’t anywhere near the real cost of ownership

Yes, WordPress is free. You, or your developer, can download and install it on a web server of your choice. And you don’t even pay a license to use it! Free is always cheapest, right? Not so fast…

Even WordPress themes cost money. And MLS® IDX plugins cost money. And all that doesn’t mean you get the website of your dreams. Any customizations will require developer knowledge. You either spend months searching the internet to (barely) learn an all-new skill, or you hire a developer.

A license fee isn't the place where you save money. Take this into account: the cost of a freelance web developer is around $100/hour. The starting setup fee for Gavamedia can be around $450. So our setup cost is really worth just around four hours of a web developer’s time.

If you need a custom broker or REALTOR® website, investing upwards of $5,000, a small license fee is insignificant, particularly if it saves you heaps of dollars in improvements. A license fee isn't going to make a dent in the price of a custom web site.

Site maintenance calls for money and time — and WordPress requires a lot. Major software upgrades, plugin enhancements and updates, and the site-wide testing that is needed every time one thing changes. We save you money by building a higher quality product, and a CMS we built ourselves, designed specifically for real estate websites. No plugins, no conflicts, and easier maintenance.

#6 What makes WordPress easy in the beginning, complicates it in the end

WordPress is a weblog platform — that’s all it was at first. And it shows. While it has added more features on top, it nonetheless adheres to its original purpose. This works nicely for easy web sites. But for real estate websites, this constraint clearly gets in the way.

For example, imagine a great real estate IDX website that has a searchable map of the MLS®. This site shows all local listings, allows visitors to “favourite” homes they like, can view a nice photo collage for each listing, and can fill out a contact form that emails the REALTOR®. And all this keeps the same theme of the website. Much of this can be created with WordPress, but it’s going to take a developer a lot of time. It requires a lot of different elements, themes, plugins, and custom editing, at an advanced developer level.

It’s more cost effective to construct a website from the ground up. And it also leads to a better, faster, more reliable website. With a blog like WordPress, we have to strip out a lot of the default features, just to make real estate features work.

#7 WordPress IDX plugins are bad for real estate SEO

A common misconception is that WordPress is good for SEO. There are a few decent SEO plugins that do an okay job for blogs. And for those who know very little about SEO, WordPress will not hurt your site, and it’s better than if you did nothing at all. But to do SEO properly, you need better than that.

The problem with IDX plugins, is the important stuff isn’t actually stored on your website. All the listing data, search results, and even property photos, are all loaded separately from your website. And Google knows it.

Because of how IDX plugins work, the most vital aspect of SEO is missing. A WordPress real estate website that loads listings from a plugin does not create thousands of unique MLS webpages. The IDX links take you off your website, and only benefit the plugin provider.

Instead, we put all the listing data on your website, and host it on the same server. This is a cornerstone to good SEO. That webpage for “123 Fake Street, Ontario”, is hosted right on your .com website, not on some third-party plugin’s website. Every listing has its own unique page, all hosted on your website. Google loves this.

The bottom line

All the above are just some of the reasons we don’t use WordPress. There are plenty of reasons that are too technical to get into here. In a nutshell, WordPress is fine for most bloggers, yet not up to the task for a professional real estate website.

Need a custom broker or REALTOR® website? Hire a development team, and let them pick the technology

There are some impressive WordPress sites out there. We have seen a few rare ones. Can you run a professional, custom-designed web site with powerful functions that use WordPress? Sure. But they’re the exception that prove the rule. The achievement of this kind of website isn’t because of WordPress — it’s in spite of it. The development team knew a way to create an exceptional website, and invested tons of time and money to work against WordPress’ shortcomings. This is a testament to the ability and skills of the development team.

How Gavamedia works

The public needs a REALTOR® to buy or sell a home. You know this, and probably have a list of reasons why — and you keep them on the tip of your tongue for whenever someone asks “Why would I need a REALTOR anyway?”

The same reasons apply to real estate websites. You need an expert to build and maintain your website. There are endless preventable mistakes to avoid, that all novices make. Website development is always changing, and impossible for a hobbyist to manage.

Our specialty is building exceptional real estate websites, and optimizing their performance. The websites we build work great on cell phones, are easy to use, and turn strangers into clients.

After your website is complete, we still continue a close relationship with you. Our post-launch relationship is as important as the development phase. We help you monitor your website's performance, pinpoint what's working and what isn't, and help you adapt to your unique market.

> Read more about our services

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Gavamedia builds real estate websites for REALTORS®, brokers, and real estate agencies. We specialize in MLS® websites, which connect to CREA's DDF.

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