The Importance of Listing Descriptions When Selling a Home
With so much emphasis on great pictures – and now video – it is easy to let the listing description for the property you are selling fall through the cracks. Unfortunately, failing to describe the property well can limit the effectiveness of your listing. Interested buyers are going to read the listing description, so it is important to make sure you have good real estate copy if you want to stay at the top of your game as a real estate agent.
In every business there are those who will go the extra mile to make sure they are at the pinnacle of their game. Likewise, there are those who don’t pay attention, are lazy, or just don’t care enough to standout at what they do. This is certainly the case with real estate agents when it comes to the marketing efforts they put forth when selling a home.
Every week there are thousands of homes listed across the country. When paying close attention to how these homes are described in the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and other places online, it is clear some real estate agents don’t put in much thought.
When you are picking a real estate agent to work with it is critical to check how they market homes online. Are they investing the time in writing compelling real estate descriptions? How do their photos stack up against other agents? Do they offer some kind of video tour or slide share presentation? Some agents do a great job at one but not the other. All three components are an important part of real estate marketing. Even though real estate listing descriptions are vital to marketing, many agents lack the creativity to separate a homes best characteristics.
One of the mistakes I see many real estate agents making all the time is being repetitive with the listing descriptions. There is limited space in most MLS description sections so using that space wisely is important. There is no point in saying something like “great 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home” in your remarks when you can clearly see that already in pre-determined check boxes. The space for remarks should be reserved for compelling copy that is going to create a buzz. Real Estate agents should never under estimate the power of words in their listing remarks.
It stands to reason that all real estate agents should be writing listing descriptions that help sell a home!
Images Are Certainly Important
Let’s get this out of the way right now. Great photography and video are definitely a priority when you are trying to sell a home. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” could not be more accurate when it comes to home sales. The first thing most buyers will notice is the pictures, and many of today’s buyers are also looking for video tours as well.
You want to make sure you have these components of the listing taken care of, and that they are of good quality. Poor photography will not put the property in the best light, and will likely be what turns prospective buyers away first. While these things are exceptionally important, a detailed listing description is also paramount in cementing a buyers interest.
But… Images Are Only One Component Of The Listing
When buyers are looking at homes for sale on sites like Realtor.com, Zillow and Trulia the first thing that will grab them is the agents photography. Any potential buyer that likes the look of the house from the photographs is going to dig a little deeper – which means they will be reading the listing copy. If the homes description is lacking, it can turn away buyers and cause you to miss a sale. Selling a property is a multi-stage process – images, listing description, viewing, etc. You can lose buyers at any stage of the process, which is something you obviously want to avoid. Listing descriptions matter when selling a home!
Get Detailed, Get Creative
First off, your description needs to lay down all the qualities of the home that you want people to know about – and the aspects that buyers want information on. The listing needs to be as detailed as you can make it without going overboard. You are trying to attract and appeal to buyers, so you want to give them all the information they want and need while avoiding sounding like a technical manual. This is where creativity comes in.
Creativity is something that comes easier to some people than others. Don’t stress too much if you are not a natural writer. You are a real estate agent, so writing is not necessarily something you need to be great at. But you should develop a detailed understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and what appeals to buyers. Being creative in real estate listings is doing something in a way that stands out from the crowd.
Only you know what you are trying to differentiate yourself from, so what is creative and effective for you may not be the same as for someone else. The key is to keep trying, keep experimenting and pay attention to what works. Learning how to write creative listing descriptions is something all real estate agents should strive to do!
Highlight The Best Qualities
When writing your listing description it is important to mention the qualities of the property that stand out over and above the competition. For example if all the competing homes have a two car garage and yours has a three car, this is something you would want to emphasize. Here are some specific examples of the types of things that should be highlighted if your home has them?
- The potential for an in-law suite.
- Expansion possibilities.
- Special energy saving features.
- Special construction materials used.
- High end pool or landscaping.
- Large backyards or acreage.
- Cul-de-sac locations.
These are the kinds of features that will appeal to a large percentage of the buying public. They are also hot buttons that could be a requirement for a certain segment of the market.
Emphasize Quality Brands
Emphasizing recognizable brands is also important, especially when you are marketing a luxury home. For example it is widely recognized that the kitchen is the most important room in a home. If it is an accurate description you may want to use catch phrases like “chefs kitchen or “gourmet kitchen”.
Many people identify quality by brand names. If you have appliances with the names Sub-Zero, Viking, Wolfe or Bosch it would make sense to mention them. These names symbolize quality.
Recently I was selling a home in Milford Massachusetts and missed the fact the seller had a Sub-Zero wine fridge. We ended up discussing how so many buyers make emotional purchases and some of the hot buttons for them are well known name brands. He was 100 percent right and I fixed my advertising right away.
Another good example of brand recognition is with heating systems. If your heating system is a Buderus or a Viessmann this is certainly something you would point out as they are top of the line European boilers that are well known as being a step above the rest. These are the kind of things many buyers will pay attention to.
Market Your Upgrades
Not only should the upgrades in the home be marketed online but also the marketing material that is left in the home as well. Here are the type of upgrades you should emphasize:
- New windows – emphasize high quality brands like Anderson, Pella or Marvin.
- New kitchen – especially mention things like granite counters and stainless appliances.
- New granite counters or tile shower in the baths.
- New carpets in the bedrooms.
- New roof.
- New hardwood floors or newly re-finished.
- New heating system.
- Air conditioning replaced.
- New Deck – specifically emphasize if it is low maintenance like Trex decking. More and more buyers want fewer home maintenance issues.
Don’t Forget City, Neighborhood, Schools and Location
When creating your listing remarks don’t just focus on the house. If there is something special about the city in which your home is located emphasize it. If the schools are a cut above the rest market the heck out of that. Maybe the neighborhood in which you reside is considered one of the best around? Never short change the best attributes your home has to offer. Remember you are selling a complete package, not just the structure in which you live.
You Can Build On The Work Of Others
Although your end goal is to be creative and unique, if you are new to this you have to start somewhere. You can take a look at what other Realtors are doing and format your material off of their work. Ideally you will look at real estate agents that you know are successful in your area. All good listings have a basic structure.
Learn to recognize and reproduce the structure, then start experimenting with the different components. Selling a home with creative marketing is a quality that most great outstanding real estate agent have. Remember this when it comes time to sell your place! Work with a real estate agent that thinks outside the box and goes the extra mile.
Follow General Marketing Principles With Words
There are certain marketing words that should be used and also avoided. Take a look at this excellent article from Vertical Response for a perspective. Be sure to also check out this article from Buffer on words and phrases that convert in sales. Both of these articles will be extremely helpful in creating listing remarks that stand out from other real estate agents!
The Basic Listing Structure Online
The basic listing structure goes something like this:
The headline is what buyers will see when they first view the ad. It is the short sentence that shows up along with the image. If you look on sites like Craigslist you can see how real estate agents are trying to stand out with their headlines. Things like, “CHECK THIS OUT! – A Rare Waterfront Listing”, or something similar. They are trying to stand out. How you choose to come across is up to you, but remember that the headline is extremely important.
An opening statement is your first chance to describe what you are offering. It is where you give the reader a reason to continue looking at the listing. Make the first sentence in your remarks be one of the most important aspects of the property. What do you really want to get across to the reader?
Description of Features
The easiest way to list the features of the home is to be straightforward: “New carpet, large backyard, basement with kitchen, etc.” The straightforward way is quick and easy, but also the least interesting way to explain what the home has to offer. A narrative description is much more appealing to buyers.
A narrative description would go like this:
This spacious home with two story foyer and in-law apartment features lush new carpeting, a remodeled kitchen with granite counters and a big backyard, perfect for play, gardening or just relaxing on a weekend. The addition of a second full kitchen in the basement, along with private access, is ideal for someone who wants their own space – for renters or for family. The location can’t be beat as the home is located in a top neighborhood close to the center of town, schools, and highway access!
The narrative description is designed to make the reader get a feel for how great it would be to live in the home.
If you are offering a promotion to help sell the property, you can place it after the narrative description – which will help motivate the reader to contact you after they read up on all the interesting features of the property.
Call to Action
While there is limited space in most multiple listings description boxes, online is a different story. There is much more space where you can get a bit creative in how you try to capture a buyer. Every listing advertisement should end with an encouraging call to action: “Don’t hesitate – call now to be the first in line for this incredible value!”
You have to ask people to do what you want them to do, so don’t feel bad about putting in a call to action.
Put your contact information down so they can easily get in touch to learn more or view the property. One of the frustrating parts of numerous real estate agent websites is how difficult it is to actually make contact with a person. Nearly every page on a real estate website should make it easy to make contact. This means having an email address and phone number buyers can reach you at!
As an agent who is often referring clients to agents in other parts of the country it is often frustrating to search all over the site for contact information. If this describes your site, you are losing business!
What to Avoid in Advertising Remarks
One of the things real estate agents need to be very careful of when writing their listing remarks is violating the Fair Housing Act. Real Estate agents are prohibited from discriminating in the sale or rental of property because of race, color religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national heritage. When crafting your remarks it is important to avoid using any terminology that mentions any of these things. This is the worst kind of real estate advertising mistake!
It Gets Easier With Practice
Writing is a skill that gets better with practice. Real Estate agents who want to improve will keep writing listings and experimenting with what works best. With practice, the agent should eventually get into a groove where they feel more comfortable.
Remember, real estate copy is an important part of the sales process, so make sure the listing agent you hire is someone who is investing the time to make your home sound worthy of grabbing a buyers attention.
Always Check Your Real Estate Agents Advertising
It is always a good idea to check the advertising of your home online as soon as it is posted. Don’t be surprised if the expression on your face is similar to the one above. There are many agents who do nothing whatsoever to enhance your home description. It is very likely you could find yourself shocked and disappointed.
Additional Home Selling Articles Worth a Look
- Outside the box real estate marketing via Rochester Real Estate Blog.
- Do open houses sell homes via Behance.net
- What real estate agents should do for home sellers via Maximum Real Estate Exposure.
- Hire a content marketer to sell your home via Joe Manausa Real Estate.
- Marketing helps you make more money via Great Colorado Homes.
Use these additional home selling resources to make smart decisions when hiring a real estate agent to market your property. Look for a real estate agent that understands the importance of well thought out listing remarks!
About the author: The above Real Estate information on real estate listing descriptions are vital to marketing was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.