Sometime between your first real estate listing and your 20th, it will probably hit you: writer’s 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.
After all, you’ve probably been throwing words around all day already – emailing associates, calling prospects, chatting with peers. And now your seller expects you to assemble a few sentences about his or her house that will get the buyers to flock. And we’ve all been stung by the jokes about real estate agent “code” words e.g. using “cozy” when we really mean small or “charming” to hint that, well, the house has been painted purple, inside and out.
So what’s an agent to do?
Relax. Help is on the way.
First, we have some easy writing tips. Then we have a recent keyword study, focused on words that sell houses. And, finally, a few examples. See? We’ve got you covered.
Easy Writing Tips
Don’t exaggerate. You will get caught. Today’s buyers will use Google Earth to discover that your listing’s “secluded wooded lot” is actually a forest of dead trees waiting to catch on fire. Just tell the truth.
Do be specific. Numbers and materials and name brands are your friends; they add credibility to your listing. Instead of “spacious,” include the square footage. Instead of “great kitchen,” try “granite countertops.”
Location, location… or not! If your listing is in a great location, shout it from the rooftops. If not, try to leave it out of the conversation and focus on the amenities instead. Your buyers will probably map it anyway.
Think like a buyer. As a seasoned professional, you probably have a decent idea of who is going to buy each house. A growing family isn’t going to buy a one bedroom condo, so it might be a waste of space to include the school district in your description.
Skip the fluff. Avoid description words like “nice,” “great” and “comfortable” that really don’t tell the reader anything. Use the property’s features to convey those ideas instead.
Updated January 25th, 2017: There’s a strong link between effective online writing and the way search engines rank websites – these two things influence each-other tremendously, and it’s usually for the better. Algorithms become more accurate at ranking relevant, personal content, and writers are encouraged to write with more consideration towards their audience.
This trend has been on a constant increase in the past four years, and we can now say without a shadow of a doubt that 2017 will be the year in which personalized content will draw more attention than ever. Write your listings as though you’re pitching to a close friend, explain in simple but specific terms, and keep a professional but conversational tone in your descriptions. Your listings will surely draw more eyes and more leads this way.
Real Estate Keywords
Our friends at Point2 Homes recently analyzed over 300,000 active listing descriptions to determine which real estate buzzwords are most popular by region (US only so far) and which ones help homes sell faster. Here’s what they came up with…
In 2012, the top three most used words or phrases in real estate listings nationwide were (drumroll please):
2. Hardwood floors
3. Stainless steel-appliances
But the discoveries don’t stop there! Even the Los Angeles Times was fascinated by what else Point2 turned up:
These are the most popular listing keywords in each of the four geographical regions in the United States. Who knew tennis courts were such a big deal in the South?
And this is a visual display of the most-used keywords distilled from New York City listings that sold faster than the 180-day average. Is it any surprise that closet space is such a selling point in this crowded city? Click here to see more results from this study.
Real Estate Listing Description Examples
This is a great house description example:
Updated Craftsman home on desirable cul-de-sac. Walk to downtown. 3 bedrooms/2 baths with detached two car garage and large enclosed yard with rear deck. Recently remodeled kitchen includes stainless Viking appliances and granite counters. Original hardwood floors in excellent condition. Top-rated Peabody school district. Move-in ready.
Potential buyers learn a lot about this house in less than 50 words. It comes across as stylish, quiet, clean, well-situated and family friendly by providing verifiable specifics. Even though it may not list every amenity, this easy-to-process description encourages prospects to take the next step, whether that includes browsing the (ideally plentiful) listing photos, viewing a virtual tour or contacting their agent.
This is a much less great (although much more hilarious) description one real estate blogger stumbled across:
I think it’s best to start here to save on gas due to it costing so much. But if you feel like you need to drive around for no reason just to make sure, that is fine. It’s not my time you are wasting. I have new paint, carpet and appliances. Hot water boiler is nice and large deck off the rear. Lot could probably hold a garage if you need it, but make sure! Shed for additional storage. Look forward to meeting you. -Signed -ADORABLE HOME.
Passive-aggressive and first person! We suspect this listing might have better luck on a dating website. For more humorous listing description fails, check out this Boston Magazine article. Hey, it’s not goofing-off, it’s research! Right?!?
Seen a funny listing recently? Have a hot writing tip? Share it with everyone in the comments below.