All real estate is local. Individual brokers farm their local markets and do the transactions. However, Zillow and the national franchise chains dominate the search results, even for the most locally focused searches. They have the budgets to defeat the local brokers and push them way down in the rankings. The brokers even help them do it by contributing endless posts and content to these national sites, making them rank even higher in their local markets. Many brokers just give up and use pay per click ads.
So, we approach real estate SEO from a niche perspective. Broker websites that have focused and geo targeted content and good organic optimization can rank in the top five for their niches. Our experience has proven that it can be done.
We see the best results with pure HTML websites. WordPress websites can be problematic and insecure, but many people love them. The numerous IDX website companies have better results, but they can be expensive to run and maintain. By coding a site in pure HTML the metas, titles, attributes, content and alt tags can all be fully optimized. We usually expect to see first page rankings for a well optimized, targeted website within 60 days of a full optimization project.
What generally doesn't rank well are the free template sites provided by the national franchises to their local brokers. Template sites, in general, don't rank very well. The best approach to marketing a template based site is to buy pay per click ads on Google, Yahoo and Bing.
Most importantly, the site needs to be mobile friendly with a fully responsive design. Real estate searches have a high percentage of mobile vs. desktop. Often, 40% comes from mobile devices. Check your web analytics report to see your numbers. Then, check your site on the free Google Mobile Friendly test tool.