While it’s well known that it’s the photographs in a real estate ad that will pique a buyer’s interest in a home, the right words in the may just get them into the car. Yet, finding ways to describe your listings – coming up with catchy headlines and intriguing come-ons – is pretty challenging.
Writers are admonished to always remember their audience. Real estate agents would do well to remember that advice too, but to also keep in mind that their audience is two-pronged: buyers and other real estate agents.
The second and third rules of thumb? Don’t be repetitive, and never, ever be boring.
The MLS typically doesn’t give agents a lot of room for descriptions. This is valuable space, so don’t repeat information that will show up in the details section. In other words, there’s no need to reiterate that the home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms since those facts are already mentioned in the property details section.
Save the description box for compelling, intriguing information that will reel agents and buyers into the home for a closer look.
Highlight the Best Stuff
Know what buyers want and, if the home you’ve listed has any of those features, hit them hard in your listing description.
Any unique amenities – a gourmet kitchen, hardwood floors, oversized yards and garages – are worth highlighting. Brand names, such as Bosch, Sub-Zero, Wolf and Viking, should be sprinkled throughout the text. Don’t neglect to “mention appealing features such as those pullout shelves in the kitchen cabinets or the walk-in pantry,” warns Melinda Fulmer of MSN Real Estate.
Read through this well-written listing description of a Seattle mansion. How much do you want to walk through its “terraced gardens” and “manicured grounds,” not to mention take in the “iconic views of the Seattle skyline & Elliott Bay”? The real estate agent who wrote this listing description certainly knows how to write a dazzling listing description!
Improved homes are attractive to buyers. New roofs and windows are especially appealing, but any improvements are worth mentioning. A homeowner who cares enough to replace, repair or improve is a homeowner who has most likely maintained the home, which is comforting to buyers.
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Use the Right Words to Describe the Listing
Next time you sit down to write about a new listing, keep in mind that some words sell more effectively than others. They have more power: the power to compel a buyer to act.
To illustrate the power of words, take a look at a study conducted by Paul Anglin, a professor with the University of Guelph in Canada. He and some other researchers spent three years studying real estate listings. One aspect of the study centered on how a listing ad’s wording affected the eventual sales price and days on the market.
From this, they extrapolated a list of words that sell, and some that don’t. The study was conducted over 10 years ago, so whether these words and phrases are valid in today’s market is debatable. But the study itself indicates the importance of taking your time to consider each word you use in the listing description.
Some of the words that Anglin claims help sell homes include:
- Beautiful – Homes described as “beautiful” sell for 5 percent more, and 15 percent faster than those described as being in “move-in condition, according to Anglin’s study.
- Curb Appeal
- Fixer Upper
Words that don’t sell:
- Must Sell
- Value – Homes described as a “good value” sold for 5 percent less than other homes, according to Anglin.
- Move-In Condition
- New Paint or New Carpet
Even if you end up not employing some of Professor Anglin’s power words, come up with a list of your own, unique to your market.
Begin your ad with a compelling headline. A good place to get headline ideas is magazine covers. Notice how the copywriters use words and phrases to entice you to purchase the magazine to read what lies within.
Copywriters have a number of strategies when composing a headline, including the ever-popular “how to.” Personally, I’m a fan of the “reason why” type of headline: “8 Reasons to. . .” or “10 Things. . .”
Make Your Words Draw a Picture
Would you like to “entertain beneath soaring Venetian plaster ceilings” in your new home, or “cook for 2 or 20 in [its] well-appointed kitchen”? Thanks to this Kirkland, Wash. home’s compelling listing description, we certainly would!
Selling the sizzle instead of the steak involves using words to paint a picture of what living in the home looks like. “Relax and unwind in the hot tub after a hard day at work,” or “Imagine entertaining friends and family poolside on a warm summer day.”
Even a less-than-perfect home has its plusses. Look for them, and call them out in the description by pointing “out the opportunities, such as the hardwoods hiding underneath the carpet or the storage space afforded by the extensive built-ins,” says Fulmer.
Go over your copy once more before submitting it to ensure you haven’t violated fair-housing rules by mentioning national origin, race, gender, disability or familial status. Then, hit the submit button and sit back while the calls from interested agents and buyers flood in.