The Bel Air Real Estate Theme

the-bell-air-theme-thumbJust to prove how versatile WordPress themes can be along comes ‘The Bel Air Real Estate Theme‘ This is not just a theme but a complete setup for any property based company wanting to reach a wider audience. All the features you could need for sales or property rental are installed with the theme, including an impressive payment or mortgage calculator (easily converted to any currency), photo galleries for each property and even profiles for the ‘agents’ who do the selling.

In essence you will be able to start selling straight away, the backend or ‘CMS’ admin area is very easy to use so entering and publishing each properties details is painless, making it a powerful piece of real estate software. If you or your client are a real estate agency then this theme should be a serious consideration.

Bel Air comes with a choice of five different colour schemes and it is easy to add your own branding. It is also advert ready with a built in ad banner management system so you can monetize your site or if thats not your cup of tea then use these areas to promote featured properties and services. There’s the obvious areas where details of different rooms etc can be entered. But what really caught our eye was the auto thumbnailing of images (when clcked they open in a lightbox style gallery), and the ‘no custom fields’ ease of use when publishing. The authors of this design have gone to a lot of trouble to make sure that publishing is a breeze and that you (or your client) never have to deal with code or anything tricky.

Features

  • Five colour schemes built in (sea blue, red, navy blue, gold and black)
  • Easy to brand and change the colours (if you don’t like any of the above)
  • Mortgage / payments calculator
  • Image auto thumbnailer
  • Lightbox style photo galleries for each property
  • Featured properties rotated on home page
  • Easy search drop down menus (price, location and type)
  • Advert ready
  • Ad banner management

Click to see pages and features of this site
Click to see pages and features of this site

Our only frustration with this theme is that it is not yet using google maps, which is not exactly new technology and would be a perfect addition to its features. The sites authors WP-Realtor are currently considering adding google maps into a future update of the site. Our advice would be to use one of the many Google Maps plugins availible for WordPress until this update is ready to avoid frustrated customers. Actually there is another ‘bug-bear’ with this theme, you have to by either buy a ‘single agent’ or ‘multi agent’ version. The latter being more expensive. Ok so we haven’t had that much experience with real estate software, well actally we’ve had none at all!! So maybe this is normal in the world of property (let us know below if it is!!) but it does seem strange. However neither ‘agent’ version will break the bank and if you find that you need to upgrade then you can do so easily.

Although The Bel Air Real Estate Theme is limited to estate agents, realtors and property companies (public and commercial) we couldn’t resist featuring it. We think this theme is a fine example of how to turn WordPress into an individualised e-commerce platform, something which WordPress developers and designers have been getting better and better at over the last few years (thanks to amazing advances in WordPress itself) and it is finally blasting the fated osCommerce out of the water, not only in aesthetics and functionality but most importantly with innovation.

Revolution Office

Revolution Office comes from the creme de la creme of site designers Jason Schuller (of Revolution Two). Although this design is called ‘Office’ its use is pretty universal and is suitable for almost anyone. With Web 2.0 looks and beautifully crafted composition we cannot stress enough just how nice this site is, please go to the homepage and check out the demo to see for yourself.

Available as a WordPress theme only however Revolution WordPress themes are becoming very well known for supreme quality and an amazing level of after care support. Buts that enough about Revolution (as you can probably tell their a bit of a favorite of ours) lets check out Office theme and see if its any good!

Office is a pretty minimal site which means your visitors arn’t going to have any trouble finding their way around and getting to the information they need quickly. The homepage has an impressive image slider (please try this out in the demo it has such a cool smooth sliding action!!) with a link from the images to the appropriate page or featured article. The slider could be used in so many ways, it could be turned into a very dynamic looking menu or a showcase for photography or any products you are selling or reviewing, your imagination is pretty much the limit with this one. If you do go for this theme please post links and show off your sites below, we would love to see how you have developed this!

Features

  • Beautiful image scroller
  • Breadcrumb enabled
  • Gravatar enabled
  • Widget ready
  • RSS 2.0 enabled
  • Unlimited fast support
  • Suitable for almost any use

office-home
Click for homepage, categories and post page

When you do a search or click on catagories / featured content you are presented with a very nicely layed out page with thumbnails of each item with a text excerpt, rather than just a huge page to scroll down containing all the related articles, or worse a horrible built in google type search results page.

The articles or pages themselves are simple and effective, with a two column look, lots of room for your content and a content details section at the side. This allows visitors to see which sections of your site the article comes from for easy backtracking, and an RSS 2.0 feed. Here’s our only gripe with the design of office, below the content details is a recent content section showing the titles of all the latest storys or pages. This would be so much more effective as a related content section, this way if a visitor has not found exactly what they wanted then its easy for them to quickly get back on track.

So as you have probably guessed we love this design and cannot recommend it enough.

Now here’s the important choice you have to make if you want this site! Themes from Revolution Two are availible as free downloads directly from their site however, the free versions arn’t exactly easy to find and come with no support what so ever!! Not even an instructions.txt in the zip file! Worst of all its not always the most upto date version of the site. Speaking from experience this can be a very frustrating and time wasting way of trying to get their sites up and running quicly even for an expert. Googling dosen’t help either as their support forums are closely guarded and locked to anyone who hasn’t brought their support package. Although slightly pricey their support is unlimited across all their themes and very very quick so even a newbie can get the site up and running in a matter of hours. They even offer customization techniques and tutorials and all questions answered by experts. Their standard membership package only lasts a year however if you want lifetime option then there is a Revolution Pro Plus Membership available for not much more than the standard price! Quite frankly its the option we have gone for and haven’t (yet) regretted it! However if you carn’t afford it, or have a lot (months!) of time on your hands then plug for the free option.

Don’t forget to post and show off your versions of this site below!