Which came first, the listing description or the target buyer?

In 2013, we explored the real estate listing description. In that blog post we suggested that you “paint a picture” of the home with your words. While we think that’s still a good idea, the short attention span of the average American warrants a caveat:

Paint a picture of the features your most-likely buyers will want.

If you don’t know who this person is, and your plan is to cast a wide net to attract any and all homebuyers, you can’t write a compelling listing description.

To write an attention-catching, buyer-bringing listing description requires knowledge of two things:

  • The most likely buyer for the home
  • What this audience is seeking in a home

Listing agents are, above all else, marketers and marketers always determine a target buyer for their products before coming up with a plan.

Just as we don’t see Supreme, the street wear giant, trying to attract Gen X or baby boomers, Millennials aren’t likely to experience targeted online ads from AARP.

Yet, the average listing description is a lot like the average real estate agent – trying to be all things to all people. Attempting to appeal to the masses won’t work in 2020.

Sure, we can’t get inside the head of every homebuyer or read their wish lists over their shoulders, but demographic studies can teach us a lot about preferences according to age group.

As you read about the wants and needs of each age group, keep your listings in mind. Then, rework those descriptions so that they highlight the features most desired by your likely buyer.

OK Millennial

They’re the least monied of the three main age groups active in the real estate market today. They’re the least experienced and most particular homebuyers and they dominate the buyers’ market.

That domination, by the way, isn’t set to wane anytime soon. As Millennials age and make more money, they’ll enter the housing market in larger numbers, increasing the buyers’ agent’s pool of first-time buyers.

Different studies make different claims on what this group’s hot buttons are, but there is overlap among the claims.

If you have a listing that is located in an inner suburb, especially if you work in a northern state, such as Minneapolis, Detroit and Buffalo, take a look at the following list of home features that millennials care most about and circle those that your listing offers:

  • Pre-owned, single-family home that isn’t in need of basic repairs
  • Stylish home that is Instagram-ready (oh, yes they do)
  • Quick commute
  • Laundry room
  • Fresh pain on the walls
  • New flooring
  • Backyard or patio
  • Walk-in pantry, central island, updated cabinetry (preferably white) and a double sink in the kitchen with new or relatively new appliances
  • Garage

As you pen your millennial-targeted listing description let them know how the home appeals to their lifestyle, especially if there is room for entertaining.

Generation “Money,” AKA Gen X

They may be forgotten by most marketers, but the smart real estate agent isn’t among them. Gen X (age 44 to 55 in 2020) real estate consumers have more experience with home buying and selling so they require far less hand-holding.

They also earn more than millennials so they buy pricier homes. But the real bonus is that Gen Xers often have a home to sell before they buy their next home.

Take a look at Gen X’s hot buttons and, if you have a listing that includes them, these are the features you want to hit hard in your listing description:

  • State-of-the-art kitchen (number one on their wish lists according to the National Association of Homebuilders)
  • Single-level home
  • Backyard
  • No wasted space
  • Master bathroom suite that includes a whirlpool tub
  • Media/theater room


Baby boomers make up the second largest group of homebuyers and the largest group of sellers, according to the NAR. While many have decided to age in place, others are looking to down size.

Their desires are modest:

  • A home in a suburb or rural area
  • Within close proximity to a beach (ocean, lake or river) or green space
  • Single-level home
  • Backyard or patio
  • Laundry room (94 percent of them want one)
  • Energy efficient appliances and windows
  • 3-car garage

Boomers and Millennials stress the importance of outdoor space, be it because so many own pets or they want to entertain. There’s a decided lack of mentions of this feature in most of the MLS listings we’ve viewed.

If your listing has a backyard or patio and it otherwise fits the bill for either of these generations, include it in your listing description and photos.

Despite what many in the media claim, all three generations agree on a number of desirable home features. These include:

  • Ranch-style home, rather than Victorian, Craftsman, colonial or other styles
  • An abundance of natural light
  • Plenty of storage space
  • Central air conditioning
  • White cabinetry, natural stone countertops and stainless-steel appliances in the kitchen
  • Laundry room.
  • Backyard or patio



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