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Writing Killer Property Descriptions for Your Real Estate Site

By Cedric Jackson, January 2, 2018
Writing Killer Property Descriptions for Your Real Estate Site

The last time I looked at real estate listings (as research for a client), I was absolutely amazed at how similar the descriptions were to ones I had read in years previous. By, “years previous,” I mean 20, 30, 40 years or more.

Yes, the real estate business has evolved over the years, but some things that should have changed by now still haven't. It's time to look at one big one and reassess its effectiveness: the format and delivery of your property listings.

So, why would I want to force change on an entire industry? Simply put, it's not me forcing it, it's your buyers. Older millennials are now buying houses, and it is imperative that we old folks learn to speak their language.

Today's buyer likely doesn't remember a world without the internet. Therefore, it is imperative that we understand that they view everything with a much different eye than we, or our parents, did. When they look at your property listing, they are simply seeing more online content, and they will scrutinize it like they would any other piece of content.

Your listings have to be both visually and linguistically engaging, and they have to be honest, evocative, and real. Anything less and your buyer might scroll right by to see what your competition has to offer.

It's time to stop thinking in 20th century terms about your listings, stop using language that appealed to our grandparents, and understand how important it is to communicate directly with a new generation of home buyers. Here are a few ways you can accomplish this.

#1 – Start with a Great Headline

Real estate listings are like any other type of web copy these days: Without a good hook, people probably won't even notice the listing. Yes, the visuals are almost always going to be the initial draw, but given the sheer number of MLS sites that will display those visuals, you never know if someone is seeing just a thumbnail or getting the literal big picture of the property.

This is why the synergy of words and pictures is so important here and why you need to bring your A-game to your headlines. Keep your description short (under 10 words) and don't overstate anything. Choose your adjectives wisely and try not to use hackneyed words and phrases that they have inevitably seen in a hundred listings prior. “Cozy” and “charming” come quickly to mind. Please, don't use words like these. They will get you nowhere with a 21st century buyer.

#2 – Describe the Property in 21st Century Terms

Start by abandoning overused phrases or overstated adjectives. “Perfect,” “amazing,” and “awesome” are words today's buyer reads to describe everything from luxury cars to peanut butter. Besides, one person's “awesome” is another person's pet peeve. You can't tell a millennial what “awesome” is. If that millennial disagrees, you've lost them. Today's buyers have strong opinions of their own, and they don't like being told what to think.

#3 – Emphasize Emotions and Feelings

Consider a more practical approach with verbiage that appeals more to the senses. Describe how things look, feel, and even smell. Let the reader decide if any of it is “awesome” or “unique.” If the home is brand new or newly renovated, describe the smell of fresh paint or the cleanliness of the kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Descriptors like these create a sense of ownership: brand new = “all mine.”

Focus on how living in that house will make the buyer feel. Is there a view? Is the property quiet and secluded? How are the rooms laid out, and what about the layout would appeal to the buyer on an emotional level? Our grandparents were more concerned about the furnace than the deck, but not today's buyer. Leave the technical details up to the inspector to explain. Nothing about the furnace will motivate young buyers to take a closer look.

#4 – Be Honest

Building trust is a vital part of any content marketing initiative, and it's time we start viewing real estate ads in those terms. Do not try to make more of a feature than it's worth. Don't gloss over problems as if they don't exist.

If, for example, the backyard fence needs an upgrade, don't try to pass it off as “rustic.” It's old. It's falling apart. That's a dubious brand of rusticity at best. The buyer will identify that fence as old and rundown when they go to look at the property. At that point, you've probably lost their trust.

Remember that even if a buyer is obligated to keep working with you as a matter of contract, they are never obligated to buy from you and won't if you prove to be untrustworthy. There is no shame in admitting that a few updates might be necessary, and doing so might actually sell that house faster to the right buyer.

At the same time that you want to be transparent about flaws, you want to play up the real benefits. Sure, you might need to replace the fence, but won't that new fence look great with that gazebo or rock garden? Accentuate the positives but incorporate the negatives in a realistic and practical way.

#5 – Name-Drop Popular Brands

Since today's buyers are often brand loyalists, you want to let them know the exact quality of the appliances, fixtures, carpet, etc. that they will be buying. You will have a better chance of getting close to the asking price of the house if you drive the value of what's inside. Who designed the countertops? What brand is the range, and what can it do? All of these things are relevant to the modern home buyer and should be incorporated into your listing.

#6 – Know the Rules for all Popular MLS Sites

As a final note, it is important that your listings be in compliance with all the major MLS sites so that your listings always look professional and complete. If you don't know how to do this or just don't have the time to research it, don't take chances. Enlist the help of a custom writing service like Beez that has experience writing real estate copy. The right copywriter should already be aware of formatting rules and limitations.

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