Who owns your real estate website? In this article, I will cover the parts of your website that you probably do not own, parts that you may own, and why website ownership is important.
The layers of simplicity provided by template real estate website platforms are a facade of complexities. As your real estate website grows in size, the potential harm to your real estate business grows exponentially.
Let’s dive into the details of website ownership!
So, Who Owns Your Real Estate Website? Here are the Website Ownership Factors
You don’t own the domain name. Minor.
Each website consists of several parts, the first and arguably the most important is the domain name.
It’s important to understand that domain name registration doesn’t confer any legal ownership of the domain name, merely an exclusive right to use it for a specified time period.
Although it is true you can sell the rights to the domain, it is not true ownership, rather a contract as you have with your wireless carrier for your mobile number.
Nevertheless, you should make sure that no matter who registers your domain, they register it in your name.
We’ve had so many clients come to us in a situation where the website designer has gone missing; the client’s domain name in tow. It’s a chore of a process to get your domain name back, and it’s not guaranteed you will win the appeal.
Furthermore, if your domain name expires, then it is also entirely possible that somebody else (usually an automated bot) could pick up your domain name the instant it comes back on the open market.
Keep your domain name registration details locked in your safe! Enable 2FA (two factor authorization) on your domain name registrar account (GoDaddy etc.), and make sure your domain name is registered in your name. It’s one of the most important assets of your real estate business.
You don’t own the code. Major.
Unless you, or an employee, wrote the code for your website from scratch, its creators likely own it. This is fine in the case of WordPress plugins.
However, as this applies to the web server platform, programming code, database software, and CMS (Content Management System) on which your website runs, it’s problematic.
If you have a real estate website provided by a template provider, or even a WordPress website not independently hosted, then likely the website provider owns the rights to their platform code, and you’re not going to take that code with you if you change the provider.
This code is what makes your website work; it would probably require a complete rebuild of the website to move it, since they would not allow you to reuse and of their non-standard (modified) code.
Furthermore, if there is content provided as part of your website template package (buyer/seller guides, etc.), you’re not going to continue to use that.
Finally, the above assumes the provider is willing or even able to provide you with a backup file that could be restored onto another server. This is typically not something they will facilitate, and you’re back to step 1 – recreating the design from scratch.
You don’t own the server. Minor.
Website hosting today is typically in the cloud. Fundamentally, a WordPress IDX Real Estate Website has an uncomplicated set of technical requirements.
While you don’t own the server, it’s not a big deal in the case of most real estate IDX websites; a server can be fired up in about one-minute and a backup file restored onto the WordPress platform.
We suggest a dedicated server on Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Service, or Microsoft Azure.
Amazon offers a free tier – which is free for the first year, then can be as less than $10 thereafter.
As your website grows, you can scale-up the server incrementally to suit the load.
Owning a physical server and serving your own website isn’t something that we would recommend today.
You should own your website content. Major.
The visual design, images, and text within your website should all be yours. If your leasing your real estate website platform, that’s likely not the case.
As a rule, content on your website would be owned by the creator of said content. If you created it, it’s yours to take. If they provided it, it’s not yours, you can’t take it.
Don’t Become A Hostage. Major.
Think of website ownership like home ownership. You hold the keys, you have control, you can make additions that add value to your website, anyone you choose can work on it. You have full access to all areas of the house, and its foundation (the server).
Think of Website Ownership like Home OwnershipStu Hill c. 2021
The legalities of owning a website can be unclear and/or complicated.
We can help you understand what would be involved in protecting your investment by migrating your existing website to a platform that you have full control over.
If you would like to discuss your website and have us review where you stand in terms of ownership, book a 30-minute real estate marketing consultation with us.
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