It happened. You were just handed the dream house, the perfect property that’s going to sell fast at a nice price. But if you can’t get people through its doors, you’re going to have a hard time selling it, no matter how great it is. For many agents, getting people initially interested in a property and scheduling a walkthrough is achieved through an online listing. According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 93% of home buyers used an online website in their home search and 85% of those buyers found detailed information about the property very useful. A listing description can make or break the sale of a home. If done right, it can get home buyers to fall in love at first sight and make them feel like they must act fast to scoop the home up before anyone else does.
Learning how to write a real estate listing description can be invaluable for your business. It starts with knowing the components of a good listing description and how to make them stand out from the competition. Follow these tips to help build this important facet of your creative real estate marketing in no time.
How To Write A Real Estate Listing Description
Let’s start with the basics. Think back to your grade school writing class when you learned the structure of every well-written paper. It was made up of a title, introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion. The same goes for a real estate listing description. A good description will have the following elements:
- An attention-grabbing headline
- A captivating introductory sentence
- A creative and succinct description of the home
- A promotion, if you have one
- A call to action
The headline is one of the first things a buyer sees and, depending on where you list online, it may be the only thing they see to entice them to check out the rest of the listing. You have one chance to make your listing stand out, and the headline is often what makes that happen. Talk about pressure.
To write an attention-grabbing headline, think of the best, most marketable quality of the home, then follow these guidelines:
- Keep it short and succinct.
- Include that one, most marketable feature.
- Use descriptive words that compel the buyer to learn more.
- Include a benefit relative to the location.
- Write several headlines, read them out loud and pick the best one.
Don’t waste time or prime space with a lengthy introduction that doesn’t provide any information. Instead, get straight to the point and tell the buyer exactly what the listing is about. A good introduction will tell the buyer what they are looking at and why they want to continue reading. This is a great place for any other major selling points of the home that didn’t make it in the headline. These are features that don’t need any other description to back them up, like an open-concept layout, free parking, mountain views or lake access.
The Home Description
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it often can’t convey all the emotions, benefits and features of actual words. This home description is your chance to highlight the structure’s best selling points that may not be easily represented in the listing photos.
When describing the home, highlight the top reasons people will want to purchase it and present these reasons in a creative, compelling way. Don’t just tell the buyer about the home’s best parts; show them. Avoid vague phrases and replace them with rich, descriptive words. For example, instead of saying the home has “hardwood floors,” you could say the home features “historic oak hardwood floors restored to their original beauty.” With descriptive wording, an “updated kitchen” can be transformed into a “kitchen outfitted with new, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and cherry wood cabinets.” Can you see the power of words at work here?
Names can often add recognition and credibility, so if a famous architect designed the home or if the appliances are from a well-known, reliable brand, make sure you include that information in the description.
It’s important to go into detail about the home but leave some room for the buyer to use their imagination. You want them to be able to see themselves in the home, so don’t make assumptions that could make them feel excluded. For example, the buyer needs to know about the spacious, fenced-in yard with a large back patio. However, they don’t need to be told that it’s good for hosting barbecues when they may be a vegan who wants to use the space to hold a book club gathering. Provide enough detail so several buyers from different backgrounds can imagine using the space how they see fit – not how you think it should be used.
Remember, while the home description is essential to the listing, you should try to keep your word count to around 250 – even if the MLS site’s limit is higher. No one wants to read a novel, especially when they are looking at countless listings each day. Be descriptive but concise. Cut out such meaningless filler words as only, just, really, actually orveryto tighten up your sentences and save your space for words that add value.
If you’re trying to sell the home fast, you may want to consider a special promotion to motivate the buyer even more. After a descriptive and creative narrative of the home, a special promotion can be the final thing that excites the home buyer and provides the extra push to contact you. Such promotions could include a discount on the sales price or a percent off on closing costs. Whatever you choose, make sure you can follow through on it and that your client, the seller, is comfortable with it.
The Call To Action
Now that your creative real estate listing has buyers swooning, tell them what to do next. The call to action should tell buyers how to contact you and can even create a sense of urgency that will have them acting fast.
Real Estate Listing Do’s And Don’ts
Along with using proper structure, you should also make sure your description follows certain guidelines to create the optimal buyer experience. You can do this by following a few do’s and don’ts when creating your listing description.
Do Be Cautious Of Fair Housing Laws
The Fair Housing Act was created with the belief that every person should have the right to purchase or rent a home. The law prohibits discriminatory practices against certain protected classes who wish to purchase a home, rent a home or obtain a mortgage. These protected classes include:
- National origin
- Familial status
Many states have also added other protections for other classes and may include age, sexual orientation, marital status, ancestry or source of income.
According to HUD, under the Fair Housing Act, you cannot “make, print or publish any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination.”
To avoid this, steer clear of any words that may represent a protected class or make them feel excluded or unwelcome. Examples of such words or phrases include:
- Perfect fit for
- Near [place of worship]
- Bachelor pad
Instead, highlight amenities that describe the area while still being inclusive to all parties. These amenities may include neighborhood block parties, the Saturday farmers market or the walkable distance to parks, schools or a bustling downtown area.
Do Consider Co-Authoring With The Seller
Showcase the heart of the home by working with the seller to write your listing description. They’ve lived in the home and know it inside and out. They know what makes it special and what others may love about it. Pair that with your sales expertise to create a professional listing with personality and sentiment – something many listings lack.
Do Check Your Work
Once you’re done writing the listing description, read and re-read your work. Read the listing out loud and to another person, even. Check for any technical errors, too. Typos and grammatical errors look unprofessional and could turn a home buyer off from your listing. If you look careless, that could reflect on your business or even your client.
Do Enhance The Description With Listing Photos
The National Association of REALTORS® found that 87% of people who search for homes on the internet found pictures very useful. Photos are an integral part of any good listing and can work well in conjunction with your description. When using listing photos, follow these tips:
- Make sure the photos match your description.
- Hire a professional to take the listing photos.
- Tell a story with the photos.
- Use photos that have been edited to correct color, contrast and brightness. Do not use altered or other misleading photos.
- Organize photos by room to avoid confusion.
Don’t Repeat Yourself
Most real estate MLS listings will list such basic home information as square footage, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the lot size in a section outside of the home description. Don’t use up the valuable word space by repeating those details unless they are so unique that they need to be highlighted in the description, too.
Don’t Use All Caps
All caps is the text equivalent of yelling. You may think writing in all caps grabs the reader’s attention or emphasizes how exciting the home is, but it will leave the reader wondering why you are shouting at them. Not only that; writing in all caps is also unprofessional, distracting and, many times, difficult and frustrating to read.
Overselling the home and its features will do one of two things: turn the homebuyer off before they even step through the door or disappoint them when they view the home in real life. This makes for a bad customer experience, risks your credibility, and breaks any trust between you and potential buyers or clients. Be honest about what you’re selling, focus on the sellable qualities of the home and don’t embellish on the less desirable parts of it.
Don’t Sound Desperate
Phrases like “motivated seller,” “must sell” or “priced to sell” can make your client sound desperate. This can cause skepticism among home buyers who may wonder why the home isn’t selling or why the seller is so eager to get rid of it. Even if that doesn’t scare them away, the buyer may lowball their offer. Why? Because desperate sellers often accept lower bids – and home buyers know it. Using words like this will only encourage lower offers.
For more real estate news and helpful information, check out our agent relations page. If you have any tips for developing creative real estate marketing, share them in the comments below.
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