How to Start and Register a Company or Business in India

This article is written as a basic guide for any one who wish to start a company/business in India. If you want to start & run a business in India, the first step you need to take is to register your business with a name. Now you have a handful of options available for registration. At the initial level, as a startup you can consider the following 4 options.

Image Credits
Image Credits

1) Sole Proprietorship 2) General Partnership 3) Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) and 4) Private Limited Registration (Pvt.Ltd)

Each of these registration entities has its own advantages and disadvantages. You need to analyse these differences yourself and find out which one suits you best.

1) Sole Proprietorship – is the most simple one to execute. You don’t need to formally register a “sole proprietorship” with any government agency in India. To begin business all you need is a current account with any RBI accredited bank and an individual PAN card to submit your tax returns. Depending on the nature of your business you may need to procure additional licenses. For example to import products to India or to export products from India, you need to obtain the general Import Export License (IEC Code). In addition, Indian government has placed restrictions on the import/export of certain goods. In some cases, you may need to apply and get a special import/export license for some goods that fall in a sensitive category. If your business is in the food processing industry, you will have to apply for an FSSAI license. Such license requirements highly depend on the industry you are serving like FSSAI for food, IEC code for import/exports, a different set of licenses for pharmaceutical manufacturers and it varies with industry/law.

My Observations about Sole Proprietorship

It has certain advantages for a beginner in business. You don’t need to invest any money upfront in business registration process. A Private Limited/LLP registration often demands professional help from Chartered Accountants in India. You will have to pay professional fees and government level fees. From my experience you will not able to float a private limited registration below INR 15,000/-. In many cases you will end up spending more than this amount. So if you are just playing around with a new business idea or trying to experiment with your ability in business, I would recommend you to begin with Sole Proprietorship.

However a “sole proprietorship” is applicable only in cases where there is only one founder. This registration is for the “one man army” type people who runs everything on his own initially. If there is more than one founder, you can try the general partnership option to make things easier. Another advantage with these registrations is that it requires no time! You can start doing business immediately after you setup your current account & PAN card.

Major disadvantages of Sole Proprietorship & General Partnership

There is only one serious disadvantage with both of these registration types – “unlimited liability“. In both of these registration types, the liability of the firm/organisation is not limited to the organisation/firm alone! The liability extends to the founders and their personal assets as well. This is a major risk when you are dealing with manufacturing or marketing of sensitive products like processed food, medicines, health supplements, electronics based products etc.If something bad happens to your customer and if he files a suit against you in court, then you are at the risk of loosing your personal assets for your company. If the court orders a compensation in favour of the customer and your company balance sheet is not enough to pay the compensation; then as per law court can order to attach from your personal assets. The reason is your personal assets are not protected against such law suits in a sole proprietorship/general partnership registration. But in a Private Limited/LLP registration, the founders or promoters of the company are protected with limited liability. Promoters/founders don’t need to risk their personal assets for any private limited/llp they promote and actively involve.

The second disadvantage with proprietorship/partnership is credibility. If you are in a position to hire smart employees, or you need to do business with a large corporation or a government organisation, they all prefer a well structured company with a Private Limited registration. A private limited registration improves credibility of an organisation/company and it enables them to do business with any kind of organisation/company in India or abroad. A third drawback is with investments from an investor like a venture capitalist or business loan from a bank. Investors prefer private limited registration as it has a well structured share distribution system. Banks will give more weight to private limited in loan eligibility as it is strictly regulated and audited every year with compulsion.

3) Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) – A limited liability partnership is a new form of corporate structure introduced in India in 2008.  An LLP is a combination of the “limited liability” feature of a private limited company and the flexibility of a general partnership. Nowadays most startup founders are confused to choose between an LLP or a private limited company. I recommend you to read this article:- comparison of LLP with general partnership and private limited. This will help you to take a decision. In my opinion, if your goals are not clear or if the founders can’t see a future beyond 2 years for their company; then go for an LLP because dissolving an LLP is much easier compared to dissolving a private limited entity.Similarly investors and bankers tend to give more weights to private limited registrations than to an LLP. Count your future requirements in terms of investments from a venture capitalist or a loan from bank. Take your decisions based on data available at hand by analyzing your requirements.

4) Private Limited Registration – is the ideal form of registration for any startup/company which is forming with a long term goal, a larger vision or purpose etc. By these terms “long term goal” or a “larger vision“; I just meant the company must have a very good product/service with market demand and the founders must be prepared to run the company even in bad times.It is not very easy to wind up a private limited company. The founders will have to go through a series of government formalities (just like the formalities involved in registering a private limited)  to close the registration as well.

If you are confused between which registration entity to choose for your company, here are some guidelines to go for a private limited.

Form a private limited registration in the following cases:-
  • 1) If there are 2 or more founders and you need an organised share holding system with legal validity.
  • 2) If the founders are interested in scaling the business to different markets, different locations, launch branded products, launch different set of products etc.
  • 3) If the founders want to limit the liability of their company to the company and its assets itself. 
  • 4) If the founders plan to accept loans or investments in the company.
  • 5) If the founders plan to practice ESOP (Employee Stock Options) and give equity to smart employees. 
  • 6) If the founders wish to do business with government organisations and large corporates.

These are the major reasons to form a private limited company and there could be still more reason that I might have missed. Please note me in comments section, if I missed any main point.

Formalities involved in registering a private limited company:-

All the formalities of registering a private limited company is fulfilled through Registrar of Companies (RoC) which comes under the governance of MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs)

1. There should be more than one director and the number of directors can go upto a maximum of fifty. However the number shareholders is not limited by rules of any kind.

2. Each of the proposed directors should have a DIN (Directors Identification Number). If any of the directors don’t have a DIN, apply for the same in Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) – DIN Cell. Applying for DIN has a fees of INR 100 + the professional charges of your Chartered Accountant. It will take only 1 day to apply for a DIN and it usually takes 2 to 3 weeks for processing the application in MCA -DIN Cell. You can read more about applying for DIN in the website of MCA -DIN Cell.

Note:- PAN card is a mandatory document for any Indian who applies for DIN. If a proposed director does not hold a PAN card, he should immediately take one before applying DIN.

3. One of the directors should hold a Digital Signature Certificate (DSC). If no one of the proposed directors have a DSC, then one of them should apply for a DSC. A DSC can also be applied with help of a professional agent like a Chartered Accountant. The fees to obtain DSC may vary from INR 400 to upto INR 3000/- It highly depends on the agents you choose.

4. Applying for a name for your company is the next step. You can submit upto 6 names. There is a rule that your proposed names should not resemble already registered company names in India. You can verify this by checking in the MCA Database. Another important point to note that the company name should reflect  the nature of business/industry it is supposed to involve in. I will explain this with an example.I hope you already know that there exists a public limited company named “MindTree Limited” in India. It is a company that serves in IT industry. It came to existence in 1999. However there are 9 other companies in India with primary name as “MindTree”. How was that possible ? The secondary extension makes it possible. Some registered company names with “MindTree” as primary name are like this – MindTree Consulting Pvt.Ltd (approved in 2013 in Jammu Kashmir) , MindTree Marketing Pvt.Ltd (approved in 2002 in Maharashtra), MindTree Communications Pvt.Ltd (approved in 2011 in Delhi).

From this we can generalize that it is possible to have a company name with similar primary names along with a different extension. For example:- No one has registered a company as “MindTree Interiors Pvt.Ltd” yet. So you or I can go ahead and register “MindTree Interiors Pvt.Ltd”. But at the same time some one has already registered “MindTree Consulting Pvt.Ltd”. So you or me can not register that!

The proposed names must be applied online (you can do this with your CA agency). The fees for applying a name is INR 500 + professional charges by your agent.

5) Developing the incorporation documents – Articles of Association (AoA) and Memorandum of Association (MoA). MOA and AOA together forms the constitution of a company. It records many details about a company like its name, registered address, authorized share capital, issued share capital etc. You can read about the differences between MOA and AOA. For each authorized share capital of INR 5 Lakhs, you will have to give a fees of INR 1200 to stamp MOA and AOA. Professional charges of your agent may add up to this.

6) Applying to Registrar of Companies (RoC) – MCA for Certificate of Incorporation – This is the final step in incorporating a company officially in India.This can be done with the help of your CA agent. You need to file 3 forms electronically here – Form 1, Form 18 and Form 32. You can obtain the forms from MCA Website. Based on your authorized share capital, the fees you need to pay to RoC will vary.

 

A Note on Authorized Share capital:

Authorized share capital is the total capital of a company which can be issued in the form of shares.Authorized share capital of a company has to be defined at the time of incorporating a company. However the company can increase its authorized share capital later through its directors passing a special resolution and filing it to RoC. It is not necessary that a company should issue 100% of its authorized share capital. It can issue only 40% of authorized capital as shares and keep the rest of shares as reserved for future purpose. In India, the minimum authorized share capital is 1,000,00 and it can go any higher from INR 1,000,00 say up to 10 or 100 million INR. Usually people who are incorporating their first company will find it confusing, how much share capital to show.  A rule of thumb here is that your authorized share capital should be higher than your initial investments. You must have to take into account investments in near future too. If 2 founders are putting in INR 6,000,00 (say founder A) and 4,000,00 (founder B) – as initial investment in a company, then the authorized share capital of that company should be higher than INR 10,000,00. In usual cases the share distribution will be based on the ratio of initial investments; so founder A will get shares worth INR 6,000,00 and founder B will get shares worth INR 4,000,00. However it is not necessary that shares should be distributed based on investments alone. If 3 people (A,B and C) comes together to form a company on terms that A and B will invest INR 1 million where as C will invest nothing. But A and B will not actively involve in running the company where as C will do the running of business. Here C is not an investor but the company can offer him shares in any ration say 50% share or even more than that. The percentage distribution of shares solely depends upon the negotiation between company founders.

If the authorized share capital is INR 1,000,00 then the fees to be paid at RoC is INR 4000/- For every additional 10,000/- from this base amount, fees will increase at a rate of INR 300/- per INR 10,000 increase in authorized share capital. If the authorized share capital is above INR 5,000,00 then this rate of increase will vary to INR 200/- You can refer with your CA agency to know more about the current rates and standards. In addition to this fees, you will have to pay professional charges to you CA agents.

The certificate of incorporation is a printed document from RoC and will be sent to the registered office address of the incorporated company by a secured mail/courier service.

Additional Registrations/Formalities

Once you get the CoI (certificate of incorporation) , you will have to apply the following based on your business requirements.

1) PAN – for your company and is necessary to file your company’s annual/monthly tax returns.

2) TAN (Tax Account Number) – You will have to apply for a TAN if your company is responsible for deducting tax at source.

3) Make a permanent company seal. This permanent company seal must be used to pass AGM resolutions, board meeting resolutions and other such official documents released/entitled by a company.

4) VAT/Commercial Sales Tax Registration (if required). VAT registration is required for companies which involve in the manufacturing and distribution of physical goods to other merchants/shops. For example:- An e-commerce company will have to take VAT registration as they purchase goods from manufacturers and sells them to end consumers. Similarly traders who import goods from other countries like China and sells it in local Indian markets will have to apply VAT. But a service based company say a Hospital or a Hotel or an IT service company doesn’t comes under the VAT system and hence such companies don’t need to apply for VAT.

I have written almost all formalities regarding the registration of a private limited company. In addition, I have covered other forms of business registrations available in India as well. So far I have been involved in forming 3 private limited companies in India. Out of them 1 is dormant and 2 are active. I involve and work in these 2 active companies at present.

Learn useful Regular Expressions,how to use it with examples

 What is Regular Expression?

Regular expression(regex) is a specific pattern used to match some texts, its a unique pattern. And by using this pattern we can match texts,strings, numbers,alphabets,symbols or whatever.

 How is it useful?

Regular expression makes your life easy. It extends the normal search procedure to large range of possibilities. Its very much useful in programming, content scraping,linguistics etc. For sure the Google should be using lots of regular expressions to track the content of a website.

   Interesting real life scenarios – Learn Regular Expressions

5 Ineveitable Regexes and its explanations

I’ve given 5 regular expressions and its explanations which we may need to use most of the time in our real life. All these regexes are splitted into sections and have given explanations to the sections.

Regex 1 – To find a particular word and its number of occurrences in a content/page.

 You can block illegal sites, user comments, or spam users by using regular expression. For example check the below link , which is  a live link in gskinner(a tool used to verify a regex). 

Demo:  Regex example selecting the word 

In this example, we are selecting the word “porn” from the whole text content. And after all what we can do is count the number of occurrence of the word and do a filtering based on that.

In this example the regex we’ve used is “porn” (ignore the quotes), which finds out the word porn and its other  occurrence .

Check out how this is useful for a webmaster.

  • Can filter out spam or adult comments, contact form submissions etc.
  • Crawling the sites content and can check how much importance they give to the specific word.
  • Blocking based on ip address ,regarding the searched keyword or other.
  • Suppose that  you need to match a sentence that says about a particular word. Say,          “Apple iphone“, where the mentioned word lies in between the sentence. Consider a  facebook status “I am loving Apple Iphone, its the best phone in the world” . You can match this whole sentence using regex. This would be really helpful in user/product reviews.

Regex 2  – Find all the out going links in a page and image urls

You can easily find out the outgoing links from a page ,so that you can do a filter based on those links. You can even build a Page Link Checker tool too.

Demo :  Find all the hyperlinks using regex

Regex   (?i)]+)>(.+?)

I’ll split this into 4 sections

 (?i)([^>]+)>(.+?)

Consider each color as each section. I’ve explained each sections below

What it does basically is select all the “a” tags case insensitive,                                                          Google will be an example.

  • (?i) – Means its case insensitive -,it will match both upper and lowe cases.
  • ([^>]+)> – You can see that this part ends with “>” which is end part of the a tag                          . So this matches everything until the  closing  “>”tag  . Everything given inside brackets () referes to groups so here we got one group  .  [^>]+ – Square bracket refers to a single character,  and the + followed by that means it will match (or repeat) that single character as much as possible and include in the match . *(star)   also got a similar meaning to +.  . So whats given inside the square  bracket?. ^>  – ^ means a negative match or it means match everything thats not the character followed. Here in our case it will match all the characters which is not a “>” . So in total < a([^>]+)>, means it will match everything starting with a tag and everything in between which is not a > , or in short                       – Match  – Google
  • (.+?) – That section matches everything thats after the closing > tag                                     – Match – Google

Likewise you can match all the img tags and find out the images inside the page.

Regex 3 – Find all the sentences not beginning with a capital letter.

Punctuation is a really important factor to maintain quality in what you write. Its really hard for you to  scan the whole text (say it got 3000 words)  and check for punctuation. By knowing regular expressions, you can solve this tedious task to an extent . For instance, If you need to match all the beginning word of a sentence that doesn’t begin with a capital letter, you can use regexes.

Regex:   \.(\s)*?[a-z]

Demo : Regex to check punctuation- To find the sentence not beginning with capital letter

This regex will find all the starting letter of a sentence which doesn’t begin with a capital letter.

\.(\s)*?[a-z]

  • \.  – Matches a . (dot), the backslash (\) is used to escape a dot, as dot got other meanings in a regex (Its a special character, very much like +,*,/ etc )   . “\.” means its the matching a dot  character.
  • (\s)*? –  This matches as much as spaces after a dot, most of the people puts one or two spaces after the end of a sentence  \s matches a space character the * (star) followed by that means, it will match as much as space characters possible. The question mark (?) followed by that means, the space character matching is optional (Many people don’t use space after the end of a sentence( to begin another sentence) ).
  • [a-z]– Everything given inside a square bracket [ ] represents a single character, and here it means it will match a lower case alphabet. If it was given [A-Z] , it would have matched an upper case alphabet.

Regex 4 – Find a word which you forgot.

Just imagine that you forgot a word, and you want find that particular word from the whole bunch of a bulky text. For instance, you are searching for the movie name
titanic“, and you only know that it begins with t and ends with c, you can find this word using a regex.

 Regex \bt[\w]*c\b 

DemoRegex to match an unknown word

Grouping  the  regex :  \bt[\w]*c\b

Meaning

  • The regex is wrapped in (\b \b) , which means that we are looking for word , placing \b-boundary will  help you to achieve this,it will eliminate all the other matches, for example, this  by putting the boundaries  ,our regex wont match the titanic in the word “titanicosis”  it matches a word, which starts with t  and ends with c.
  • t[\w]*c – means it will match every alphabets after t and before c. [\w] represent a single word character and [\w]*matches multiple occurrence of the the character until c is reached . That means apart from “titanic”, this will also match everything that starts with t and ends in c for example,”tic”,”tac”,  etc. You can make this regex more accurate by modifying the it a little bit.
    Improving this Regular Expression
  • You know that  the word titanic is 7 letters ,of which you know t and c , so whats in between should be 5 letters, we can add that logic too to the regex
  • t[\w]{5}c – {5} means that the single alphabet (\w) should be matched for 5 times until “c” is reached , so it will eliminate words like “tic”, “tac” etc. Check the below link

Demo: Regex to match the word with limited character numbers

Regex 5- Money formatting

Regex is very helpful in money formatting also. Consider that you got a bulk of text with money values entered as $3200, $3,200,$3200.00 $5000, $5,200 etc. What if you want
to remove all the comma separated values to normal values(without commas and the ending zeroes after decimal) for a standardisation?. I bet it would be a herculean task if you use normal search and replace. We can achieve this easily by using a regular expression

Regex\$[0-9],[0-9]{3}(\.[0-9]{2})?

Demo: Regular expression to match money values with formatting

Grouping it :  \$[0-9],[0-9]{3}(\.[0-9]{2})?

Meaning

  • \$[0-9]    –  This matches money values that start with a “$”(dollar) and a single number –          .$ got other meanings in regex, its used to find the end of a string. /a$/  find strings that ends with a. So we need to escape $ sign  with a backslash(\) indicating that we are looking for the $(dollar sign) .Its for this purpose we’ve used \$. – Match – $3,200
  • ,[0-9]{3} – This matches a “,” (comma) and 3 numeric digits  – Match  $3,200.00
  •  (\.[0-9]{2})? – This part of the regex handles the decimal part. The whole expression is placed inside “()”-  brackets  and followed by a question mark (?). Everything placed inside brackets “()” are groups in regular expressions. ? means that the preceding group is optional, or in our case it means , “Its not necessary to match the decimal part, but if there is one, match it”  .Which means it matches all the money values with and without decimal part. Now coming inside to the group \.[0-9]{2} –  The dot(.) has been escaped with a backslash (dot is very much like dollar which is a special character so we need to escape it ). Dot is followed by a two numeric digits which forms the decimal part –  Match – $3,200.00

How to use Regular expression to search and replace in Notepad++? 

notepad search

Notepad++ allows regular expression search, which helps us to search for a word with regex and replace it with some other. To use regular expressions in notepad.

  • Take the find option (CTRL+F).
  • Select the regular expression option.
  • Paste the regex and search.

Using Regular expressions with Javascript

We can use the match() function in javascript to match regular expressions.

example:

var str = "titanic is a ship";
var matches=str.match(/t[\w]{5}c/g);

Here the variable matches will hold the  match “titanic“.

/g : This means this will be searched globally, or all the matches corresponding to the search expression.  With out using /g, it will return a single match.

/i : In javascript, we can use /i along with the regex to make the match case insensitive.

General Regular Expression syntax in Javascript  :  /REGEX/

The two forward slashes /  /   are where we place the regex inside. g , at the end means its a global match, means it matches every occurrences of the particular word.

Using Regular expressions in PHP

We can use this regular expressions in php also. Php provides some great functions to match our regexes.

As like in javascripts, we enclose the regex in forward slashes in php.

General Regular Expression syntax in PHP:  /REGEX/

PHP functions which deals with Regexes

1. preg_match – This is a single match, this will return a single match found from the whole text. General syntax is

preg_match(regex,text,output)

Output:

Array
(
    [0] => titanic
)

2. preg_match_all – This holds the same concept of preg_match , but this matches globally, same as /g which we used in the javascript match.Means it will match every occurrences of the regex, we used. It is very useful to count  the number of times a pattern or word is used in a page. The general syntax is.

preg_match_all(regex,text,output)

Output:

Array
(
    [0] => Array
        (
            [0] => titanic
            [1] => titanic
        )

)

3. preg_replace – This acts as the find and replaces, the general syntax is

preg_replace (find,replace,text).

Output:

Queen Elizabeth was a big ship. Queen Elizabeth hit an iceberg

4. preg_split

General syntax : preg_split(regex,text)

$text="titanic was a big ship. titanic hit an iceberg";
$SplittedText=preg_split("/t[\w]{5}c/",$text);
print_r($SplittedText);

output: 

Array
(
    [0] => 
    [1] =>  was a big ship. 
    [2] =>  hit an iceberg
)

So that deals with all the basics of regex, learn all these regexes and try building new ones by  yourself! We love comments,  If you got some suggestions, thanks or whatever put it as comments 🙂

 

List of the Best and Top Websites using WordPress

WordPress is one of the best open source content management system available to build a website of any kind. You can use WordPress to build a blog, a news publishing website, a shopping cart, a real estate portal, a business directory, a corporate website, a job portal, a membership site or any such web based application that you can imagine. It is possible to customize WordPress in any shape and design that you can imagine. In this article, I am listing a handful of the most popular websites out there which are running on WordPress. I have taken care to list websites from different categories like news portal, blog, application based wordpress websites like jobs board, coupons selling website etc.

Some people are still skeptical about the power of WordPress to handle very high traffic, say in the range of millions of pageviews. This is a misconception. From my experience, I can say with 100% confidence that WordPress is capable of handling any amount of traffic to your website. I personally run & manage websites with more than a million pageviews in one month.According to Alexa.com’s (a website which monitors & classifies websites based on their traffic) reports, 14.3% of the worlds top 1 million (ranked in terms of website traffic) websites are powered using WordPress.

Now lets see some of the most popular & top websites using WordPress as their CMS. I have given a high importance to website traffic as it is the single measure of popularity.

1. SmashingMagazine 

smashing_magazine

The very famous website with tutorials and highly useful articles for web designers/developers runs on WordPress. SmashingMagazine has an Alexa rank of 1170 and is expected to have more than 15 million pageviews in one month. They have an active jobs board, a dedicated section for e-books and a shopping cart to sell their digital products (mainly e-books).

2. Mashable & TechCrunch

List of the Best and Top Websites using WordPress

 Mashable & TechCrunch are two highly popular news publishing websites which focus on technology industries & social media companies. Mashable focus on social media and new technology companies, whereas techcrunch focus on technology based startups. Both these websites are highly popular and serve more than 20 million pageviews in one month. Mashable has an Alexa rank of 338 while TechCrunch has an Alexa rank of 541. They both are powered using WordPress.

3. 27 Coupons 

27coupons

27Coupons is an Indian website which publishes discount coupons of Indian E-commerce shoppingcarts. They have an Alexa rank of 27521 and they serve more than 2 million pageviews in one month. This is a clean example of WordPress being used to build & run custom applications like a Coupons publishing website.

4. Variety 

variety

Variety is a highly popular entertainment & celebrity website which runs on WordPress. They have an Alexa rank of 13172 and they serve more than 10 million page views in one month.

The WordPress Showcase – is a great place to look for the most popular & top websites which use WordPress to power them. Some of the worlds most respected brands like Yahoo & BBC America uses WordPress to power their communication blogs. Guru.com a highly popular freelancing marketplace uses WordPress to power their blog. A good number of respected universities and colleges use WordPress to power their official websites

A Review of the Best Real Estate WordPress Themes – Premium

Real Estate agents and agencies reach their buyers/sellers through online medium. They depend on their website to list all their new properties (for sale/rent) and uses the traffic on their website to make a transaction happen. Compared to the olden days, real estate agents and firms now depend on the online medium for their business more than ever. If you are a real estate agent and you don’t have a website to list your properties, then seriously you were sleeping for the last couple of years.

There are 2 types of trends we see among real estate firms and agents. The first one is new agents/agencies starting a website to list all their properties. A few agents who opted out of a website before have changed their minds and they are on their way to start their own website to list properties. The second trend is agents/agencies who had built a website years before renovating it with new features and new designs.Most of these old websites are outdated in technology and they don’t work properly in mobile devices (smartphone and tablets). A major trend in redesigning websites is making it responsive. A responsive website will adjust itself automatically to different screen sizes (say notebook, tablet and smartphones).

WordPress is a great platform to build a real estate listing website with killer features and trendy looks. I have written a detailed article on building a real estate website with WordPress. All you have to do is buy a premium real estate theme for WordPress (you can buy a premium real estate theme for as low as 50 US Dollars & less) and set the website up. Building a real estate website with WordPress has so many advantages:

  • Very easy to setup, add properties, edit properties and manage the listings
  • WordPress is open source and comes with a GPL license which is free to use and distribute with source code.
  • High end features like Featured listings, Interactive slideshows, Related listings, Advanced Search
  • A unique, trendy, clean and neat design. Its possible to bring great look and feel.
  • Highly customizable – you can customize your website in any way you want.
  • SEO Advantages – WordPress is the nost Search Engine Friendly platform available to build a real estate listings website. No other platform will match with WordPress in SEO advantages. This will help you to bring maximum traffic to your website from search engines. 

So in this article, I am reviewing the best real estate wordpress themes and premium real esate wordpress templates available. I have taken care to be neutral & unbiased while reviewing all the themes. However the buying decision should be solely yours based on your unique needs & requirements.

Standard Features of a Premium Real Estate Theme

A good real estate theme is supposed to have the following basic features. Many great themes available in the market gives a lot more in addition to these basic features. However in my review of the real estate themes, I haven’t considered any theme that doesn’t give these basic features in full.

1. Responsive design – A responsive design makes the website adjust itself to different screen sizes. This will help the website to be displayed perfectly in all mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

2. Theme Admin Panel – A theme admin panel is necessary where the administrator of website can change important aspects of the website like Logo, Slider images, Currency, Skin Colors, Font Styles and many such features. Different themes provide different kind of customization options in their admin panel. Some themes like PropertyMagic offers high level of customization  that you can change every aspect of the theme from your admin panel.

3. Listings page with Multiple photos+Property features – Listings details/description page is the key feature of every real estate theme. A good theme should give options to add multiple photos, add various property features like property type, MLS number, price, measurements, property status (rent/buy) and such features.

4. Property Search (Quick and Advanced) – A good real estate theme should give a powerful search option. Ideally there should be a quick search (for an easy and quick searching of properties) and an advanced search (for filtering out a specific property).

All the themes listed below provides all the basic features listed above. I have taken utmost care to list only the best ones from different companies. However good a theme may be in looks and features, customer support from the theme developer is a crucial factor. I have made sure that all the themes listed here has a good history of providing decent customer support. Please be informed that a history of good customer support may not be an indicator of the present/future.

1. Graha  – Real Estate Theme

Graha demo

Graha is one of the best real estate theme’s I’ve ever seen. The best thing about Graha is its fancy look, unlike other  cliched real estate themes Graha was able to deliver its own identity .

I had a real estate client who is a hardcore fan of WordPress . When he approached me for building a real estate website in WordPress, I had no doubt referring Graha to him. He really liked the design and was very happy with the outcome (customized version).

Some of the good features of Graha are,

1. Fully Responsive.

Well, every theme released now a days are fully responsive, so as Graha

responsive graha
2. Google Map Property integration.

Graha is google map integrated.  You need to enter the latitude and longitude of the property, and it the map section will automatically point the property in the desired location. This feature makes it so handy for the user to check the surroundings, access, and other major landmarks to the property.

gmap listing
3. Neighborhood map (The main attractions nearby the property will be listed). 

Another fantastic feature offered by this  theme is  the Neighborhood map . The major spots(restaurants,schools,bars etc would be fetched automatically through google map api and would be displayed in a sexy manner.

neighbourhood map graha

4. 360 Degree View

Recently , I was looking for a rental property and one of my agents used to show me panoramic images of the properties which he had in hand. To be frank, these images  really did give me a clear cut vision about the property. Graha does have the support for panoramic images which would be great in the viewers perspective.

360 degree view

 

5. Multiple Agents.

You can add multiple agents to the users. Properties will be displayed on basis of your agent profiles. This would be great if you have an agent based business.  Not only you but also your agents will benefit through this feature.

agents

 

6. Plenty of widgets 

How much widgets you have in your WordPress theme, that much customizable is your website. Graha does have nearly 20 widgets which makes the theme highly customizable. Almost all the things you have in the home page are widgets. Even for the property search , there are 2 widgets (Normal search and Ajax property search widget – which does have dependant dropdowns in the propery search).

2. Rent & Buy

Google Map based real estate wordpress theme
Note:- Click on this image for Live Preview of the theme

Rent & Buy is a Google Maps based real estate theme for WordPress. Highlight of this theme is the site wide Google Maps with properties marked on corresponding locations. Each property will be listed on Google Maps based on the location. Upon hovering the marked property, it will be highlighted with a short title and description of the property with an active link. You will be taken to the corresponding properties listing page upon clicking the marked property on Google Map.

Other Highlighted Features:-

1. Front End Submission – this feature will enable visitors of your website to register an account and submit a property for sale/rent.

2. Payment Packages with Paypal integration – this is a unique feature of this theme. You can set a number of packages for registering an account and listing a property in your website. Payments can be collected using the integrated Paypal checkout.

3. Surrounding Suburbs Search – is a useful feature of this theme which will include listings from the near by suburbs/village/streets in the search results page.

4. Sorting in Search Results Page – is another useful feature which will help the visitor to sort the search results based on price, relevance, date, new listings etc.

5. List, Grid and Map based view in Search results page – The visitor can choose a view he would like to have. The layout will switch based on the selected view. However map based view is not responsive.

Drawbacks of the Theme

1. Except for the great looking Google Maps and marking of properties, the home page lacks a unique and stylish design.

2. Theme fails miserably in responsive outputs. Maps based home page is the villain here! Maps will vanish completely on responsive output for smart phones of all types. However responsive output for tablets looks fine with maps being active.

3. Single Listings page lacks a unique design! In fact the design & layout of single listings page is average. They have not given a dedicated content area for listing property features like number of bathrooms, bedrooms, rent or buy etc. Visitors will find it difficult to identify if a property is for sale or rent from the single listings page.

4. There is no “Related Properties/Listings” – which is an important feature to be provided in single listings page. Every visitor who read details of a property would like to know about other similar properties available in the website. A “Related Properties” widget will help people to navigate to other similar properties easily.

5. There is no social sharing enabled in property listings page! Another notable drawback can be found in the design of their blog, which is average.

3. WP Pro Real Estate 4

Full width image based real estate theme
Note:- Click on this image for Live Preview of the theme

WP Pro Real Estate-4 is a full screen image based real estate theme from ThemeForest (Author:- Contempo). The uniqueness of this theme is in the usage of a unique looking, stylish, high resolution image in the home page header area. This image gives the theme a modern style with a good look and feel. On top of this full width image, a sophisticated search engine is placed which adds appeal to the overall design as well. In addition, this theme looks neat and clean.

Highlights of the theme:-

1. A unique approach to home page header area, which is not implemented by any other theme authors. Neat and clean design with a natural flow.

2. Image slider with unlimited number of slides. Just below the “full width image based header” area, they have given an Image slider which can be used to list properties with a brief data and a link to the listings page. This slider can be used to promote a handful of premium or featured properties. You can also promote properties that are listed for emergency selling.

3. Featured listings slider  helps to promote maximum number of featured properties through home page. This is an added advantage which will help you to promote another set of premium properties.

4. Promote a specific property among all visitors – This is a unique feature of this theme. A single featured listing will be displayed as the first result (just like sponsored results in Google search page) in the search results page.. This will help admin to promote a particular property among all visitors of the website.

5. Mortgage Calculator is a unique feature of this theme, which is otherwise available only in OpenDoor Theme (as Loan Calculator).

Drawbacks

1. Featured listings slider fails in responsive output.

2. Latest listings are not given very importance in home page.

3. Design of Single Listings page is too minimal! Images are small in size. Property features could have been displayed better by using a dedicated content area. Social sharing icons are not very engaging.

4. They have not given “related listings”. Search Engine Widget is not available in single listings page.

4. OpenDoor

Premium Responsive Real Estate WordPress Theme
Note:- Click on this image for Live Preview of the theme

OpenDoor is a feature rich real estate theme from ThemeForest (Author:-) which gives a lot of emphasis on features than on neat design and clean looks. Highlight of this theme is the home page with an interactive slider and map based listing of latest properties. They have provided important features like a Loan Calculator, Search widget on Sidebar, Browse by different property types, In addition they have a “compare properties” feature which will enable visitors to compare different properties in tabular columns.

Highlights of the theme

1. The Theme is available in 2 versions. The normal version and dsIDxpress plugin version. This is a unique feature of this theme and you can use the theme based on your choice. No other theme gives the dsIDxpress integration. However dsIDxpress is not a choice for many theme buyers. But if you are one looking for a dsIDxpress version, then this theme is for you.

2. Search results page has a map based listing (just like Rent & Buy) along with normal list based view.

Drawbacks of the theme

1. The major drawback of this theme is in its design side. The overall design is not neat, not clean and it doesn’t follow a proportional design flow.

2. The “tab area” in single property listings page to switch between “basic details” and “features” fails in design. In my opinion, it makes that portion of the theme awkward in view.

5. ReMap

Google map based, responsive, premium real estate wordpress template
Note:- Click on this image for Live Preview of the theme

ReMap is a fully map based real estate theme using Google Maps. This theme has features almost similar to the Rent & Buy theme like Google Maps based home page, Front end submission with paid packages, Paypal integration and similar features. However the major difference is in the approach to design and the layouts. Remap has a fully map based home page where as Rent&Buy follows a mix of maps and conventional design elements like featured listings, footer area, sidebar etc.

If you are confused to choose between Rent&Buy and ReMap theme, I will highly recommend Rent&Buy because it is more Search Engine Friendly. ReMap depends too much on Google Maps and they tend to give more importance to list details of a property inside maps (as a JQuery popup) rather than to direct listing details to a single unique page. This approach of ReMap affects SEO severely and it can loose you lots of traffic to your website.

Highlights of ReMap

1. Fully fresh and unique approach to design based on Google Maps.

2.  They have used a modern approach (based on Jquery) to build inner pages, in the design of quick details of listings in maps and in developing search results page using Google Maps.

3. They have been successful in blending the “search widget” and “login/registration” into the map based design without affecting the design flow. However they made it too confusing that a website visitor will find it difficult to see the search form and login/registration form.

Drawbacks of ReMap

1. Poor SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) – is the major drawback of this theme. As I have wrote before, they have made it great in design & looks but failed in Search Engine Optimisation. One of the major drawback is a fully map based home page. Another drawback being listing the property details inside Maps page as a Jquery popup. To get maximum benefits of SEO, a theme should have a home page with text based contents accessible by Search Engine Bots. Similarly individual property listings must be accessible by a single unique URL. This theme fails in both aspects and is one of the premium real estate theme with poor SEO scopes.

2.Confusing design elements – Though they have blended design elements like search function, login/registration, front end submission and such features, they made it confusing for the visitor. A visitor who is not very familiar with internet and modern website elements will definitely find it too confusing to find major elements like “search function” & “front end submission”.

6. FreeHold

freehold - premium real estate wordpress template
Note:- Click on this image for Live Preview of the theme

FreeHold is a simple, clean and neat real estate theme from ThemeForest (Author:-). FreeHold was created in September 2012 and has been updated with new versions till this month. It does not follow a map based design in home page. It’s home page is fresh & clean with a slider (image based), latest listings and a featured listings widget. The “search feature” which is crucial for any real estate website is placed in the header area. The single property details page has a fresh and clean layout with a beautiful design.

Highlights of FreeHold

1. Clean, neat & fresh design of home page & inner pages.

2. Search is implemented in perfect fashion with a minimal option & advanced options in the header area. Minimal option allows for quicker search while advanced options allows for a refined search. Both are implemented at the same header area and can be accessed by selecting a tab click.

3. Search Results page has map based listings at the top portion, where listings can be selected from Google Maps. In addition they have listed all properties in “List Based View” just below the maps section.

Drawbacks of FreeHold

1. Featured Listings – could have been more highlighted in home page. Though they have given featured listings as a sitewide sidebar widget, it doesn’t serve the true purpose. A “Featured Property” widget is supposed to get maximum visibility in a real estate website and this theme fails in delivering maximum visibility to the featured listings.

2. Related Listings – FreeHold doesn’t provide “related listings” feature in the single property page.

3. Social Sharing icons – in single property listings could have been more interactive and larger in size. As of now it offers minimal visibility and minimal action on social sharing.

So those are the best real estate wordpress themes available, you might also be interested in my article about Launching a good looking real estate website under 100 $ expense