How Realty Austin Uses ButterCMS for Scalable Content Management

  • Generate content in bulk for 55% organic traffic increase
  • Reduce time-to-market with reusable components
  • Quickly create new pages without developer assistance
  • Real Estate
  • React, Node.JS
  • Austin, TX

Realty Austin is the top real estate brokerage in Central Texas and, despite its hyper-local status, it’s leading the way with tech innovations. Three years ago, Realty Austin decided to cut ties with slow-to-grow SaaS platforms and set out on a 12-month journey to build its own microservices architecture. With the help of ButterCMS, the team was able to launch a consumer-facing web product made to rival that of the nation’s largest real estate companies.

Executive Summary

Creating a Premier Real Estate Platform

Real estate brokerages get a larger share of the commission when they generate leads for agents — and agents often rely on brokerages to do just that, since it’s tough for individuals to get out there and be heard through the noise. 

The team behind Realty Austin wanted to become the premier local real estate platform, positioning themselves as a brokerage partner that could help agents manage their brands and generate business. However, they knew they were going up against big competition, and that a solid SEO strategy would make or break their success.

As Realty Austin tried to build new functionality into their platform to improve their customer journey and, therefore, bring in more leads, they soon realized their existing SaaS partners just couldn’t work fast enough to keep up with their needs. 

“We really just needed a CMS that we could work with so we wouldn't have to move a mountain every time we want to make something happen,” says Gabe Richtor, Director of Technology at Realty Austin.

Once Realty Austin decided to build out its own microservices architecture, it was only a matter of time before they discovered the power of a headless CMS. Once they began interacting with the team at ButterCMS, they were sold on its reliability, scalability, and reusability—and were able to get their MVP up and running in less than three months. 


Business Challenges

Streamlining A Complex Workflow

For years, Realty Austin relied heavily on SaaS platforms that created a disjointed publishing process and SEO challenges. 

While Realty Austin has always prioritized responsiveness, they were struggling to achieve it with their previous solutions. “Most SaaS products have custom backend CMS platforms that are just horrible. They don’t give you any sort of dynamic capability to control schema or microdata on a page,” explains Gabe.

For some time, the team had to maintain a completely separate WordPress instance for their blog environment, even hosting it on an entirely different domain. Without a doubt, that created major SEO challenges.

Picture of Gabe Richter

We did our best to provide as much cross-traffic as possible, but we didn’t have a CMS that allowed us to control our content in a scalable way around our polygons and shape files.

Gabe Richter
Head of Technology

Those polygons and shape files he refers to have become vital to modern real estate platforms. 

“If you go back 10 years, you would type in a zip code and start browsing listings, but people don’t necessarily know where they want to live. Now, people are able to zoom in and out around a map and draw shapes in the areas that interest them,” he explains.

So, offering an interactive search experience was crucial to Realty Austin’s continued success, but the team really started to struggle with the time-consuming processes associated with creating and managing all of that content, especially as they grew. 

Today, Gabe says the company manages close to 20,000 built-in shape files, each one linked to pages that are vital to SEO. Finding a way to manage and create those schema pages in bulk was critical if Realty Austin wanted to maintain its competitive edge. 



Microservices & A Headless CMS

The tipping point came three years ago when Realty Austin’s team officially grew tired of pushing and pulling SaaS providers to keep up with their company’s growth. 

“There are a lot of studies saying the real estate industry as a whole doesn’t do great with technology, so sometimes things are slow to change,” says Gabe. Initially, the team considered switching to yet another SaaS platform, but that company was purchased by a major real estate brand before the deal was finalized. 

“Sometimes these real estate tech providers build a great platform and it’s not long before a national brand comes along and gobbles them up. They operate them as a separate entity, but you sort of just end up right back where you started,” Gabe explains. “We just didn’t want to do that anymore. We wanted to take control of our destiny and build out a best-of-breed product that would give us the agility to pivot as we needed to as our crazy real estate market continues to evolve.” 

Having decided to build their own platform, the team initially set out to create their own CMS from scratch. Soon enough, they realized all the development cycles associated with that undertaking would take too much time away from other innovations. So, they sought out a new solution.

“We didn’t start out thinking we’d go headless, but it didn’t take us long to see the value,” Gabe says. “When you build a really good scalable microservices architecture, then it lends itself to stuff like this.”   

Before long, the team was digging into various headless CMS providers to decide on the right solution. From the start, Gabe says ButterCMS’s responsive support team was a humongous value position. “As a client, y’all are almost always at the top of my list in terms of timeliness and responsiveness,” he says. 

When it came to the technical aspects of the platform, one of Realty Austin’s biggest concerns was latency around API calls given the company’s move to microservices. However, their team says there have been no issues. “Uptime is fantastic and page loads didn’t suffer at all. ButterCMS is a real reliable endpoint for us when it comes to how we serve content on our site,” says Gabe.


Achieving Scalability

Realty Austin is the top real estate brokerage in Central Texas and, despite its hyper-local status, it’s leading the way with tech innovations. Three years ago, Realty Austin decided to cut ties with slow-to-grow SaaS platforms and set out on a 12-month journey to build its own microservices architecture. With the help of ButterCMS, the team was able to launch a consumer-facing web product made to rival that of the nation’s largest real estate companies.

After building out the foundation for their microservices architecture, Realty Austin was ready to move forward and work with ButterCMS to design their Minimum Viable Product (MVP), which launched about three months later. In the year to follow, ButterCMS continued to work closely with Realty Austin’s team to add new features the platform needed. 

Since partnering with ButterCMS, Realty Austin has been able to officially integrate its blog into its main site. Additionally, with better management capabilities for the content they build around polygon and shape files, ButterCMS has helped them achieve the scalability they’ve been craving.

For example, when Realty Austin expanded to San Antonio, they were able to build 10,000 pages around different polygons and shape files using the ButterCMS API — all in less than 30 minutes. Time savings like this lead to an obvious reduction in development costs, but Gabe says that’s not even the most important thing to them.


In the absence of hard-coded elements, Realty Austin can now pivot faster and has reduced its time-to-market as a result.  “The transition to ButterCMS kind of allowed us to reset the way we did things,” says Gabe.

“Now, if we build a component out, it’s a whole lot easier to call that component into another section. Just the other day, somebody made a video component for a blog page and, within five minutes, we were using it on a career page,” Gabe says. 

With the help of these features, Gabe says that ButterCMS has allowed them to create and manage its content with greater efficiency. Meanwhile, the content teams have much more independence over when and how they publish. “Now they’re armed with cool ways to show content and they don’t have to ask a developer to build something for them,” Gabe adds. 

“Without ButterCMS, we would have spent way too much time and money building out our own solution or we would’ve had to stay with our SaaS provider, which would have made a lot of things impossible. We couldn't have integrated our blog the way we want to, we couldn't manage our content at scale the way we want to, and we would have had to settle for reduced site traffic and less content."

Closing Thoughts

To sum it up, ButterCMS provides the seamless, scalable solution Realty Austin was looking for all along, ensuring that Gabe and his team don’t have to jump through hoops to get things done. Now, as Realty Austin sets its sights on new innovations, they’re able to charge forward with confidence knowing that our team at ButterCMS is here to support them every step of the way.

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