Case Study: Developing a Real Estate Website

Real estate portals exist in every country to simplify the process of purchasing or selling property. The bigger the country, the more real estate website variety it has. As a rule, they mainly deal with selling property and there are a few that specialize in land. Our client turned to us with a request to build a real estate website for selling and renting land. The platform was built for the Ukrainian market and has its own specifics. 

Real estate project specifics

We often develop complex systems for our clients. When our client reached out to us to help them with real estate website development, we already had expertise in creating large systems. We developed the following system for a Ukrainian company that had already been working in the real estate industry. 

A key feature of the Ukrainian real estate market is the abundance of land available for agricultural and recreational uses. This attracts interest from both foreign and domestic investors. However, when our client approached us, the available systems didn’t meet the needs of potential users, primarily due to a lack of relevant information about certain pieces of land.

In Ukraine, there is a state cadastral map that encompasses all land plots and associated information such as owner, purpose, area, and cadastral number, among other details. Recently, the Ukrainian government has enacted changes to land-related laws. Previously, all land was state-owned, but the new laws now allow for privatization. With the opening up of the land market, transactions involving buying and selling land have surged, creating a substantial demand for a website like Zillow.

We aimed to build a real estate website that incorporates comprehensive information and precise locations of land and other property objects. Initially, cadaster land only contained information on land plots; there was no feature for buying or selling. Our goal was to integrate this data into our portal to make it highly informative for those interested in land transactions.

Therefore, we sought permission to access the cadastral map data, ultimately merging it with Google Maps and several other mapping services to enhance user-friendliness.

Real estate website features

real estate website features

The features across various systems for building a real estate website are often similar. To illustrate, each system typically has unique features but the fundamental ones include customer and seller dashboards, interactive maps, and more, which we detail below:

Property Listings:

  • Search and Filter Options: Enables filtering by location, price, property type, and more.
  • Detailed Descriptions: Including property specifications, amenities, and other features.

High-Quality Photos and Videos:

  • Variety of Images: Offering multiple images of the property from different angles.
  • Virtual Tours: Showcasing the interior and exterior of the property.

Interactive Maps:

  • Location Information: Displaying properties and nearby points of interest such as schools and hospitals.
  • Property Details: Providing information about property including owner’s contacts and a calculation of the area’s attractiveness based on facilities and conditions.

Advanced Search Filters:

  • Custom Criteria: Allowing customization of search based on square footage, number of rooms, and more.

Contact and Inquiry Forms:

  • Information Requests: Including forms to request more information, schedule showings, and contact agents.

Agent and Agency Profiles:

  • Agent Information: Displaying bios, photos, and contact information of real estate agents along with testimonials and reviews.

Featured Properties:

  • Enhanced Visibility: Highlighting selected properties on the homepage.

Property Comparisons:

  • Side-by-Side Comparison: Allowing users to compare multiple properties simultaneously.

User Accounts:

  • Saved Searches and Favorites: Enabling users to save and quickly access their preferred searches and properties.

Market Trends and Insights:

  • Real Estate Analysis: Offering reports, graphs, and articles on local real estate market trends.


  • Promotion Options: Including ad promotion, paid access to property owner’s contacts, and banner systems.

Neighborhood Information:

  • Community Details: Providing information about local communities, schools, crime rates, etc.

Instant Chat or Messaging:

  • Live Assistance: Offering real-time help via chat feature.

Property History and Ownership Details:

  • Historical Data: Displaying past sales data, ownership history, and price changes.

Remember, the features available on a real estate website can differ based on the specific project. Our tailored approach to web development for real estate emphasized informativity, since no existing platform, at the time, provided complete, necessary details to buyers.

We concentrated on developing a detailed property catalog, requiring sellers to fill out comprehensive application forms. Additionally, we automated the retrieval of much data from state databases, minimizing manual input from users and maximizing property description accuracy. This approach empowered potential buyers to make informed decisions through a range of search filters tailored to their needs.

Our filters also display properties not actively on sale but matching buyer’s preferences, allowing potential customers to proactively approach property owners with offers. This data, too, was automatically sourced from state databases. For example, users can locate a land parcel exceeding one hectare in areas featuring forests and mountains, intended for recreational property development but not yet built on, and situated 10-50 km from highways for convenient access. This functionality enables users to identify and negotiate the purchase of suitable real estate. While it is possible to undertake these activities without our project, it would require buyers to personally visit local authorities.

Business analysis and design

While no existing Ukrainian real estate platforms matched our vision, we looked to market leaders from major countries like the US for inspiration. Among the various platforms we explored, was the most similar to our desired outcome. However, we also kept in mind that our target market is a little bit different, so we only considered Zillow as an inspiration. 

During our market analysis, we observed that there were many regional and low-volume search engine inquiries related to land. We also discovered that current real estate platforms do not accommodate properties meeting these specific criteria. For example, individuals searching for plots of land for agricultural purposes in specific areas were left unsatisfied as existing platforms primarily featured commercial properties and apartments, leaving the user without suitable options.

Once we observed this trend, we chose to organize our property catalog by regions. Additionally, we implemented a feature to auto-generate meta titles and descriptions for the ads, using keywords.

This strategy enhanced our website’s search engine ranking, attracting a substantial amount of free, organic traffic early on, with tens of thousands of visitors each month. We applied this same strategy when developing other websites, demonstrating that there are free or low-competition niches even in the most competitive industries. 

In designing, our priority was to ensure convenience, intuitiveness, and usability. We optimized the real estate website for mobile devices, negating the need for a separate app at this time. Our target audience is agrarians, so we aimed to create a user interface that is simple and easy to understand, as they typically aren’t very tech-savvy. For them, simplicity and convenience are paramount


Typically, comparable real estate platforms primarily depend on paid promotions of properties as a monetization strategy. Sellers can pay a fixed fee to feature their properties at the top of the list, thus attracting more prospective buyers. Payments for these promotions are usually made through credit cards or SMS.

Additionally, you could offer premium accounts to real estate agencies, granting them expanded capabilities and access.

Paid options are also available for buyers. On a website like Zillow, for instance, users can pay to view seller contact details or access more comprehensive property information. To implement these monetization strategies most effectively, websites need to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors.

For more popular monetization strategies ideas suitable for websites or web applications, refer to our blog article. Check them out to spark some inspiration. 

Underlying technologies

This project utilizes PHP (Symfony) + JS (Angular) as they were already part of the client’s tech stack. Had the choice been ours, we would have preferred Python, using either Django or FastAPI, coupled with a microservices architecture suitable for handling large-scale projects experiencing high traffic volumes. For front-end development, we’d select Vue.js or React due to their speed and efficiency in page loading.

These frameworks, combined with search engine optimization and SSR, are particularly advantageous for developing intricate real estate websites. Implementing these can notably enhance search engine rankings and the indexing of website pages.

Additionally, we integrated the solution with the client’s existing enterprise software and CRM system. Usually, the larger the project, the more integrations it has. For instance, developing for a startup would likely necessitate the creation of CRM, ERP, and other systems from the ground up, or the integration of established solutions like Salesforce.

How we worked with maps

developing a real estate website

Map features, such as property location searches, are crucial for websites like Zillow but pose significant development challenges. Our team, proficient in creating map-related functionalities, can develop real estate websites with advanced map features, utilizing our extensive experience.

Typically, Google Maps API is a go-to for such projects, but it demands payment per interaction, which can significantly strain your budget, especially on smaller projects. To circumvent this, we integrate Google Maps API with OpenStreet Map and Azure Maps, achieving the same complex functionalities but at a much-reduced cost.

We also employ ElasticSearch, a search and analytics engine that facilitates full-text search, allowing us to display catalog results and integrate them with map functionalities.

Our main challenge was integrating these diverse map solutions to operate seamlessly as one coherent system, a task demanding substantial expertise and experience, including familiarity with various APIs, from our development team.

Development process

We employed the Scrum framework for building a real estate website, breaking down the process into two-week sprints. Each sprint started with task setting and prioritization and concluded with a retrospective meeting. Our team consistently utilizes Scrum or Kanban for project management. It took us six months to develop a minimum viable product (MVP) for this real estate project.

We placed significant emphasis on extensive technical documentation, an aspect often neglected due to time and resource constraints, particularly in startups. However, considering the “bus factor,” omitting documentation is a substantial risk. Maintaining documentation is a fundamental best practice crucial for overall project security. We routinely produce basic documentation and, at the client’s request, additional specific documentation. More on the different types of documentation and their roles can be found in our blog article.

Proper documentation facilitates smooth transitions between programmers and allows for team expansion without slowing progress. We primarily use tools like Confluence and Swagger for various documentation needs, covering:

  • Architecture and tech stack
  • Deployment
  • Source code
  • APIs

This list represents the bare minimum for averting major future complications. However, more extensive documentation is essential if there are plans to transfer the project from one vendor to another.

Admin panel

Back office development plays a crucial role in large-scale projects, often encompassing extensive functionalities to facilitate various tasks for a company’s employees—from content and user management to intricate systems management.

Typically, our projects leverage Python (Django) which has an auto-generated admin panel. We generally rely on this technology as a foundation and then extend it as needed. Currently, it is the sole technology offering such capabilities. However, for this project, we employed a different back-end technology, necessitating the development of a custom admin panel, which understandably required additional time. Large-scale projects like this often mandate the development of custom admin panels developed by Business Analysts, UI/UX Designers, and Programmers to ensure they align perfectly with all of the client’s requirements.

Team composition

We involved two back-end and two front-end developers. In each of the teams, there was one senior and one middle engineer. Front-end developers needed to have a very specific technical skill set to work with maps. While working on this project, our specialists constantly brushed up on their technical expertise. 

And since then, we have delivered many other projects with even more complex map-related functionality. For instance, we did it for our own travel startup (check out how we built it during the times of COVID-19 in our blog article). 

Apart from that, the team included a project manager, business analyst, UI/UX designer, and manual and automation QA engineers.

Our approach to testing

We used three levels of testing for this exercise of real estate website building.

  • Manual testing to fix design and layout bugs that couldn’t be detected with automated testing.
  • Unit tests written by engineers to test the business logic and make sure all the modules work correctly.
  • Automation testing was included since the project was constantly changing and improving, which meant it needed constant regression testing. Thus, automation saved us much time. 

We’ve covered different testing types and situations when they are necessary in our blog article. Feel free to read it, especially if you want to figure out what testing types you may need while building your own product. 

Final thoughts on how to build a real estate website

Developing this website was intricate and challenging, particularly because, at the time, there were no comparable sites in the Ukrainian market regarding the level of detail and amount of information provided.

Our team possesses extensive experience in technologies crucial for large-scale projects, including those involving map-related functionality and intricate integrations. Since most real estate projects share common features, once you complete one, you know the ins and outs. We find it especially rewarding to work on complex projects, like developing a website like Zillow from the ground up. This type of project falls well within our realm of expertise, and we have in-depth knowledge of the workings of such platforms.

A well-thought information architecture and suitable and search-engine-friendly tech stack allowed the website to receive much organic traffic to the website quite quickly, which is valuable for a startup. Besides, our experience with maps sped up the development process significantly. 

Considering our expertise in the development of real estate websites, we can share a lot of useful things about these processes. We offer our first consultation free of charge, providing valuable guidance on executing your plans effectively, so if you are contemplating developing a project or launching a real estate startup, please do not hesitate to consult us.


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