Photos grab a home buyer’s attention, but descriptions get them in the door. Your listing description should pull at a buyer’s emotions and draw an alluring picture of what it would be like to live in the home — to sit in front of the fireplace, to cook a special dinner, to drink a cup of coffee on the porch or host a festive holiday party.
Sometimes though, you hit writers block. You’ll sit down to write a description for the MLS or your website or wherever and suddenly feel at a loss for words. You’ve probably been emailing associates, calling prospects, and chatting with peers all day. And on top of that your seller expects you to quickly, but carefully, craft the perfect description about his or her house that buyers won’t be able to pass up. Using “code” words such as “cozy” when you really mean small or “charming” to hint that, well, the house has been painted purple, inside and out, isn’t going to cut it this time.
So what’s an agent to do?
Here are some tips for writing real estate descriptions that will grab buyers’ attention.
Craft a Catchy Headline
You only have a few seconds to catch a buyer’s attention, so use an eye-catching headline to entice them further into your description. Words like “comfy,” “spacious” and “charming” don’t tell buyers anything, and phrases like “motivated seller” and “handyman’s special” can be awkward and disconcerting. Headlines should include a benefit or something new and interesting. For example, “Panoramic views of land, lake, and sky” or “Your private sanctuary ten minutes from downtown.”
Pack a Punch in Small Spaces
Although the word count varies from MLS to MLS, you still won’t have room to endlessly list the features of a home, nor should you. When looking for homes, buyers tend to focus on pictures and prices; they can get the nuts and bolts elsewhere, aka that’s why they call you. If you find the word count a deterrent to getting started, go ahead and craft your listing description as if you had unlimited room, then cut it down to only the attention-getting essentials that fit within the parameters of the word count.
Highlight the Best Features…
Be specific and descriptive, but not long-winded. “Hardwood floors” is good — mentioning they’re teak or bamboo is even better — but you don’t have to add that they’re “gleaming.” “Newly redone kitchen” is yawn-inducing, but “stainless steel appliances, double ovens and French chef’s kitchen island” is a showstopper.
When the neighborhood itself is a selling point, you should mention it in the listing. Highlight nearby amenities such as parks, walking or biking trails, bodies of water, shopping and restaurants. Remember, you are marketing a lifestyle that goes beyond the home’s property lines.
…And Embrace the Worst Ones
Don’t ignore or try to gloss over a less-than-desirable characteristic — for example, a shortage of parking, no backyard or a tiny third bedroom. Instead, address the feature with creativity and humor; inside that tiny bedroom is a home office just waiting to break free.
Make Better Word Choices
An Internet search for listing description keywords will bring up study after study about the best and worst words to use, but you should also do your own gut check when crafting your description. For example, what appeals more to you — “large screened porch” or “screened veranda overlooking a beautifully landscaped garden”?
Go Ahead and Name Drop
If the home has Viking appliances, a built-in Bose speaker system or a designer chandelier that’s staying put, by all means mention it in the listing description.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes
Pay attention to the buyer profile you have in mind for each home and match your listing description to include what that buyer typically looks for. For example, empty nesters who are looking to downsize probably aren’t going to buy the 5,000 square-foot home you’re writing about.
Always Double-check Your Spelling and Grammar
Careless writing can ruin the impact of your listing description, giving the impression that you lack attention to detail. Don’t risk a buyer equating a sloppy listing with a sloppy transaction.
Mix It Up
Craft two or three versions of each listing description that highlight certain features that will appeal to different buyers. For listings that take longer to sell, changing up your description on a weekly basis can keep it fresh and expose your extra efforts to the seller.
Avoid These Listing Description No-Nos
Double-check your copy — better yet, have a fresh pair of eyes review it for you — so that it doesn’t violate fair-housing rules by mentioning national origin, race, gender, disability or familial status. Omit the real estate acronyms that only industry professionals know: you’ll quickly lose readers if they have no idea what terms mean. Don’t use ALL CAPS in any part of your listing description: It comes off as shouting and is difficult to read. And speaking of shouting, don’t use exclamation points to relay enthusiasm!!! Even one diminishes the impact of what you’re trying to describe!
Using your listing description to tell the unique and compelling story of each home can entice interested and serious buyers into viewing it. A good description doesn’t need to lie or exaggerate: That makes for lazy writing, and you’ll only annoy buyers and possibly break a law. Your words should paint a vivid portrait of what it would feel like to live there. Remember, you’re not selling a house, you’re selling a lifestyle.
If you are able to effectively tell the story of each home in your listings, the right buyer will realize how foolish it would be not to jump on it.