Build a searchable member directory website using WordPress.
The global economy is changing rapidly, but real estate is still one of the most reliable assets out there. People around the world still rent, buy and sell their properties regardless of the economic situation. With the advancement of online services, most people started using online platforms like Zillow or Trulia, and such platforms have been picking up steam over the past few years. Nowadays, anyone can create and monetize a real estate website, even without coding knowledge.
In this tutorial, we’ll explain how to create a real estate directory website with WordPress, the most popular content management system. We’ll also briefly describe the monetization options and some features that can help make your directory more user-friendly.
But before we jump in, ensure that you have correctly installed WordPress and keep in mind that many hosting providers offer 1-click WordPress installation out of the box. In this guide, we’ll use HivePress, a free multipurpose directory plugin, along with its default ListingHive theme. They are both lightweight and highly customizable, so they can be used for creating any type of directory and listing website.
Let’s start with the theme installation.
The starting point is to choose and install a real estate directory theme. As we mentioned before, we’re going to use ListingHive because of its versatility. In order to install it go to your WordPress admin area, then proceed to the Appearance > Themes section and click “Add New”. Now, simply type “ListingHive” in the search bar to find, install and activate it.
Upon activation, you’ll get a suggestion to install the HivePress plugin. We recommend installing it to enable the core functionality for your future real estate directory. Also, you’ll get a notification to start with the ListingHive demo content. You can download and import the demo content to start with some existing layouts, listings and categories – it’s always easier to edit existing content than create it from scratch. Feel free to check the live demo before importing it to get a better idea of its look and feel.
However, if you don’t want to start with the demo content or are highly familiar with creating and editing content in WordPress, it’s not an issue. We’re going to walk you through each step, one by one, to explain how to set up your directory by yourself from scratch. So let’s go to the next step and create a custom category.
If you have any trouble installing ListingHive, you may follow a step-by-step screencast that shows how to do it.
First, you need to add some listing categories in order to split your content into smaller and more specific sections, so it’s easier for users to navigate your directory website. For example, let’s create a “Houses” category to display houses for sale there. To do this, go to the Listings > Categories section. Here you can name the category and describe it if necessary. It’s essential to select an appropriate category image too. Finish by clicking the “Add Category” button so the category appears on the front-end.
After you create the first category, you may add several more. For example, let’s add “Apartments” and “Rooms” categories in the same way. You may also want to separate listings into “For Rent” and “For Sale” subcategories (or make these top-level). You can easily do it within the same Categories section by selecting the parent category you want to split.
Once you create several categories, you can add the essential attributes for your property listings. For example, let’s add a new “Price” attribute to every listing. Simply go to the Listings > Attributes section and click on the “Add New” button. Here you can set up the attribute in 3 different contexts. Let’s briefly go through each of them:
In the first section, you set up your attribute functionality by allowing front-end editing and choosing the field type. For example, for the “Price” attribute, it’s necessary to enable front-end editing so users can indicate the price when adding a new listing. Also, this attribute should have the “Number” field type. After you publish it, you’ll be able to set it as a required field when adding new listings.
You can specify if the attribute should be used for searching or sorting listings. For example, if you mark it as filterable, users will be able to narrow down the search filtering results by different attributes. The sorting option allows customers to search for listings with this attribute in a particular order. For the “Price” attribute, you need to set it as filterable and sortable. It’s also essential to select the “Number Range” field type so that users can set a price range.
Here, you’re setting up the attribute’s appearance, how it’s going to look on the front-end. You can indicate the area of listings where you want to place it, assign some icon to it, and define its format. In our example with the “Price” attribute, we’ll choose the
$%value% / month format to display the currency symbol along with the rent period.
As you see, you can add as many attributes as you find necessary for your website. But still, keep in mind that you can install ListingHive demo content that already includes pre-configured attributes suitable for a real estate directory.
The next step is to add a new page to display the search form, listing categories, recent listings, and any other custom content you may want to add. You can build a new page using the WordPress block editor. Let’s navigate to the Pages section in the WordPress dashboard, click “Add New” and name the page “Home” (we’ll set it as front-page later).
Now, simply click on the “Plus” symbol and choose the block you want to add. For example, let’s add a search bar and “Listing Categories” block that shows categories of listings. Once added, publish the page by clicking on the “Publish” button.
After that, go to the Settings > Reading section and set this page as a front-page of your website. That’s it, you may now take a glance how the newly created homepage looks like.
To customize the overall styling, go to the Appearance > Customize section. You can change primary and secondary colors, logo, background images, fonts, and so on. Go through all the sections to tailor the website look and feel to your needs.
Now you can try adding a new listing to one of your categories with new attributes. For example, let’s add a “Forest house” listing to the “Houses” category. But try to do it from the front-end instead of the WordPress dashboard so you can test how it’s going to work for your users. Simply go to the main page of the directory and click on the “Add Listing” button. It will take you to the submission form, where you should fill in the required fields to submit a listing.
After you fill in the title and description, upload an image, and complete the other fields, simply click on the “Submit Listing” button. Once the listing is submitted, the site administrator will get an email notification and will be able to approve or reject it in the Listings section. If you want to disable listing moderation, you can do so in the HivePress > Settings > Listings > Submission section.
Once you set up the essential functionality, it’s time to add some advanced features to your real estate directory website. There’s a list of different HivePress extensions that you can add to your directory.
For example, you can add the Favorites extension to allow users to keep a list of favorite listings. It’s a handy feature for a real estate directory since people often lose the properties they liked among thousands of other listings while browsing. With a list of favorites, they can bookmark a property they liked and return to it later.
You may also want to enable location-based search so that users can easily find real estate in a particular area. Without a doubt, it’s a vital feature for a real estate directory since everybody is looking at the real estate location before buying or renting it. You can easily enable Google Maps on your website with the Geolocation extension.
One more convenient feature is to allow users to sign in via third-party services like Facebook or Google with the Authentication extension. It saves users time and eliminates the need for keeping another login and password just for your website.
As you can see, there are many different ways to improve your real estate directory and make it handy for users. You may check the following screencast that shows how to install HivePress extensions from the WordPress dashboard.
Monetize a Real Estate Directory
We’d like to share some tips on making money with a real estate directory website in this part. There are several ways to monetize a directory website, but we’ll highlight the three most popular and suitable for a real estate directory.
Sell Advertising Space
It’s the most common but at the same time most demanding way to monetize a real estate directory since it generates a decent income for high-traffic websites only. For example, you can sell a specific area on your website and display sponsored banner ads there. You may also integrate your website with Google AdSense and earn a commission for each ad click.
Charge Users for Submitting Listings
It’s another well-known way to make money with a directory website. You can charge users per each new listing they submit or create several packages with different restrictions. For example, premium packages can vary in the number of listings allowed for submission or provide a more extended expiration period or any other premium package feature. You can try using the Paid Listings extension to add and sell different packages.
Charge Users for Featuring Listings
You can offer an option to promote listings at an extra charge. If your directory collects tons of different offers, some users would probably like to stand their listings out of the crowd. With the same Paid Listings extension, you can give users an option to make their listings featured for some flat fee, and they will be displayed at the top of search results.
Once you build a real estate directory and it gets decent traffic, you can go ahead and start monetizing it in many different ways. However, be careful with displaying too many ads on your website since it may look unprofessional and annoy users.
As you see, it’s crazy easy to create a real estate directory if you’re using the right tools. Once you build your directory website, start to fill it with content and useful features. Make sure that users are your main priority and try to fulfill their needs. With this in mind, you’ll be able to make money from your directory website when it gets enough traffic.
If you are about to build a real estate directory with WordPress, you may want to try the HivePress plugin with its default ListingHive theme. They are both free, extensible by design, and allow you to build any type of directory website without a hitch.
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