How to create a property website that is synchronised to your back office system

Many estate agents want their property listings synchronised automatically to their website. They don’t want to input details in both places.

This blog post explains one method to achieve a website synchronised from the agency back office system.

For this recipe:

To start with you need a back office system that can produce a .blm file and send it to any location.  A .blm file is a Right Move formatted files.  By any location, what I mean is, you can specify for instance an ftp account and location on a remote server. So if your agency back office system can produce a .blm file and images (zipped or not) and ftp them to your web server, you are set for the next step.

Now, I’ll assume you are building a new website, and that you have chosen WordPress (well why not?).

Your WordPress website now needs several elements

  1. A theme
  2. A ‘custom post type’ to hold the properties
  3. A method of getting the .blm file entries into the ‘custom post type’

There are many possible variations here.  The theme is to some extent a design issue,there are many premium theme that you can buy and some of them already have ‘property’ custom post types built in. There is no specific reason why you should chose a property specific theme, as it isn’t that difficult to add a ‘custom post type’ as code, but actually it is even simpler and easier to use a property plugin.

There area few property plugins out there, for instance is you are using Genesis there is Agent Press Listings Plugin and there are other Genesis  specific plugins I haven’t tried.    Agent Press Listings is fairly basic, and obviously designed for Genesis.  A more generic property is WP Property which is feature rich, the base functionality is free and there are paid for add-ons like a super map. However,  I have been using Easy Property Listings  which again is free for base functionality and has some neat  paid for add ons like Responsive Sliders and Printable Brochures.

Some of the neater things about Easy Property Listings  is it integrates nicely with Genesis or  iThemes builder and also uses templating that make it very easy to customise design without compromising your theme what ever it is.

So, now, let assume you have a WordPress sites and a theme working with Easy Property Listings plugin installed, you tested this manually and it all looks good, now you want to that automated feed from your back office system that can provide a Right Move .blm file.

There are two plugins that with a bit of configuration can help you achieve this.

  1. .blm to XML converter
  2. WP All Import Pro

The first plugin, .blm to XML converter (at the time of writing £45+VAT),  has comprehensive documentation,  it is designed to check for a file being sent to wp-content/uploads/rightmove,   on finding that file it will convert it into .xml format and trigger  WP All Import Pro , (you need the standard ‘pro’ version as this has ‘cron’ processing, for straight through processing, at the time of writing it was $99, the free version is OK for testing but won’t give you automated STP).

Setting up the  blm to XML converter is fairly straight forward if you follow the instructions, the skill comes in mapping the .xml file from the source fields to the target WordPress structures.  One approach (and what i did initially) is to start with the free Easy Property Listings WP All Import Scripts  and modify them to your needs. I would point out all mapping requirements are different (different back office systems to different theme requirements), so you can’t avoid understanding what is going on, that said WP All Import is a very helpful tool, if you understand custom post types and custom fields, if you don’t you need to hire a WordPress dev.











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