Certain listing descriptions just work better than others and some amenities bring more leads than others. But what’s a winning description and what features make a property more desirable? Moreover, as an agent, are you sure you’ve got your facts straight? Or are you operating on market principles and beliefs that might be harming rather than helping your business?
To answer these questions, we did an in-house analysis focusing on the number of leads each of the properties on our portal attract. Then, we conducted a survey to see if real estate agents are up to speed when it comes to what listing features and descriptions bring more leads.
Buyers spend 60% of their time looking at listing photos…
With 9 in 10 prospective homebuyers relying on the internet as one of their primary research sources, it is no wonder photos are as vital as they are. Homebuyers need to know if a property is worth considering before going further. Good quality photos are the single most important element that ensures buyers don’t simply dismiss the listing and move on without giving it a second thought.
While a listing without photos is clearly a deal breaker, how many photos is enough? Or better yet, how many photos is ideal? Although agents believe the optimal number of photos is in the 26-30 range, when analyzing lead numbers on our portal, we realized posting between 6 and 15 photos represents the perfect balance. This way, agents offer enough info to pique prospective homebuyers’ interest, but not so much as to bore them or replace the need for a viewing.
Listings with 6-10 photos generate up to 52% more leads than listings with very few photos (1-5) or listings with too many photos (46-50).
If for some reason you don’t add any photos to a listing, make sure you have something else that’s really working for you, like an incredibly affordable price or an amazing, sought-after location; otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for failure, as prospective buyers are put off by the idea of not knowing anything at all about the floor plan, general condition of the property, and potential issues.
…and 20% of their time on the listing description
This is simply one more reason to embrace the KISS principle and use it to gain buyers’ attention and to get more leads. You have to Keep It Short and Sweet (or Short and Stupid, as some put it) because people’s attention span currently averages 8 seconds, and it’s decreasing fast. Other stats reveal an even darker side of what it means to be surrounded by so much content and so many options: agents have one chance to impress, and one chance only – to grab a buyer’s attention, they have 2 seconds without a photograph and 20 seconds with one.
Most agents believe short (250-500 characters) and medium (500-750 characters) descriptions generate the highest number of leads, but our data shows very short descriptions (max. 250 characters) translate into the highest number of leads.
This means coming up with creative ways to pack as much info in as few words as possible might be key to increasing the number of leads for your listings.
But if you’re thinking about taking this to the extreme, don’t! Just like with the photos, less is indeed more, but no description at all is a no-go: listings with no description generate the highest number of views, but the absolute lowest number of leads.
Why is that? We noticed a strong correlation between the length of the description and the price of the property – the more expensive a listing is, the longer its description will be, and conversely, the cheaper the listing, the shorter the description. This might mean that agents put energy and creativity into longer descriptions if they feel motivated to do so; in the case of cheaper listings, this kind of effort could be perceived by some as a waste of time.
One of the surveyed agents hit the mark when explaining the importance of photos and descriptions:
It’s not so much about features but how everything is presented that matters. Poor presentation or mediocre photography bring mediocre results.
A Low Price Is the Most Relevant Home Search Factor…
The price of a property is one of the first things Canadian prospective homebuyers consider. It’s basically all about price and… location, location, location. Case in point, when looking at the number of leads by price, our analysts discovered that properties under $100,000 are the most sought after. These homes not only attract more views but get almost twice as many leads as properties in the next price range ($100K-$200K). More specifically, listing under $100K receive on average 2.3 times (233%) more leads and 45% more views than listings over $100K.
This means luxury homes, with price tags generally over $1,000,000, might be a more significant challenge for a real estate agent. However, the higher commissions for these properties also represent a greater incentive for agents to come up with creative ways to market them to their clients.
… But Psychological Pricing in the Information Era Doesn’t Work
Since lower, affordable prices are so important, would it make sense to use psychological prices to at least get people to check out a property? This strategy, also called “charm pricing”, involves tweaking the price just a little bit, to make it seem lower at first sight. In 2005, Thomas and Morwitz conducted research on what they called “the left-digit effect in price cognition”. They explained that “nine-ending prices will be perceived to be smaller than a price one cent higher if the left-most digit changes to a lower level (e.g., $3.00 to $2.99).
So, does that work in real estate? Short answer, no. Given how expensive most properties are, and how savvy and better educated the Canadian homebuyers are nowadays, that small difference in price doesn’t carry much weight.
Although 70% of agents believe psychological prices have an impact on the number of leads a listing gets, when analyzing homebuyers’ behaviour on our platform we saw only the number of views is influenced by charm pricing. The number of views does go up due to psychological prices, but slightly altering the price of a property has no influence on the number of leads.
Condos Are Still Booming, and 2-Bedroom Condos Are the Best
Out of all home styles and sizes, 2-bedroom condos are the most popular with Canadian homebuyers. Since density has become the name of the game, with more and more people migrating towards urban spaces that provide ample professional opportunities, stacked townhouses and especially condos are in demand more than ever.
Although properties with 3 bedrooms boast the highest number of views, when it comes to the number of leads generated, 2-bedroom homes appear to be the most sought after. Listings with 2 bedrooms generate 14% more leads than 3-bed properties.
When it comes to bathrooms, 1.5 seems to be optimal: properties with 1.5 bathrooms generate not only the highest number of views, but also the highest number of leads, even though homes with 1 bathroom are cheaper.
And when looking at home type, our analysis reveals that condos get 16% more leads than houses, although prospective homebuyers love to look at houses. One of the main reasons is probably the price, which is more appealing both to first-time buyers and to downsizing baby boomers: houses might get 7% more views, but it is condos that home seekers find more attractive in the end.
A Room with a View Is the Best. Or Is It?
Agents believe homes with views generate more interest, and therefore more leads, but according to our findings, boasting a mountain view doesn’t change the number of leads a property attracts.
Water views, on the other hand, boost the number of leads by 18%, despite properties close to the water being more expensive on average. Properties near the water are extremely desirable; people love the view, and also the peace and calm that come with it. If you couple this high demand with the difficulties developers encounter when building in these areas, both the higher price tags, and the appeal are easy to explain.
So, if a home with a water view is not really in the cards, can a pool be considered the next best thing? Agents seem to almost unanimously agree that pools don’t generate more interest from potential homebuyers. And given that properties with a pool are generally more expensive than those without one, it might seem they are right. However, our analysis showed that homes with a pool attract 39% more views and generate a staggering 46% more leads. This might suggest that even though homebuyers don’t start the buying process thinking that a pool is a must-have, this feature wins them over once they see it.
Another popular amenity is the fireplace, strongly associated with coziness. Its soothing glow can definitely make the long winter evenings more relaxing, but does it generate more leads? Agents are conflicted regarding this feature: while 48% state they noticed homes with a fireplace generate more leads, 52% of the agents surveyed by Point2 Homes claim this feature doesn’t appear to make a difference.
So, which is it? After comparing the number of leads generated by properties with and without fireplaces, our analysts discovered houses with a fireplace attract 15% more views than homes without one, and 6% more leads. Just like in the case of the properties with a pool, homebuyers probably don’t list fireplaces as a must-have feature, but a few pictures and a description that evoke a cozy evening with the family in front of the fire does seem to hook some home seekers.
Therefore, although certain properties are more desirable than others due to location or features and amenities, an agent can drastically increase the number of leads their listings generate with the help of 6 to 15 great quality photos and short and creative descriptions.
Also, our analysis shows that sometimes there is a discrepancy between what agents believe works and what approach actually brings the best results. Real estate agents’ experience and anecdotal, case-by-case evidence are very important, but looking at the bigger picture might help improve their methods and their results.
- Point2 Homes analyzed homebuyers’ behaviour on the portal, looking at the properties available and comparing the number of leads generated by the listings.
- The survey conducted by Point2 Homes was done with real estate professionals who use the platform’s services.
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