On November 23,2019
A little different type of blog from me this time. I wanted to write something for those that have already finished our real estate license courses and are working in the field.
I was browsing some listings on the MLS recently and was horrified at some of the pictures agents were uploading but even worse was of the copy used to describe the listings. Problems with syntax, punctuation and tense were not uncommon.
If you have a listing now or are going to take one soon, I would recommend making sure your ad copy is extra tight. Remember that besides pictures, the ad copy is the most important part of your listing marketing material.
There are really no hard and fast rules for writing real estate ad copy, but guidelines exist to help you capture reader attention and generate responses. The goal is to highlight enough desirable features to prompt an online visitor to click through to the full listing, or to prompt a reader to call for additional information.
The prime directive is to avoid the temptation to "oversell." Use superlatives in moderation and be sparing when including value judgments in your descriptions. Remember that only one home can be the "best value" in a neighborhood, and even that is subjective to the point that it has little meaning to a prospective buyer.
Readers tend to gloss over phrases like value-priced, priced to sell and won't last long. Common terms like amenity-filled, chef's kitchen, memorable views, and stunning architecture are overused and ineffective. The goal is to be descriptive in a manner that is meaningful, while still leaving something to the imagination so that the reader wants to know more.
Writing Real Estate Copy 101
Writing ad copy that gets results isn't difficult, but it can require thought. Here are specific elements you can employ to make your efforts more effective.
First, define your target audience: Online property descriptions will have a different focus, and a different tone, than a printed brochure or an open house handout. But all copy should include, at minimum, a headline or title. It might be as simple as the property address; however, if you can use a catchy descriptive phrase, do so. Something like "Come Home to a View of the Ninth Hole" would appeal to someone looking for golf course property.
Then, add gas to the fire of imagination: Place yourself in the potential buyer's shoes and provide a "hook" that makes them want to continue reading. Focus on the lifestyle that can be theirs if they move into the home. "Enjoy a refreshing cool drink on your expansive poolside patio as you look forward to your next tee time at the award-winning course adjacent to your property." A brief description of the overall appeal of the community and the home's general description can be included here.
It can be as brief as you wish, or it might run to several paragraphs, depending on actual space and your purpose. Say something like: "This 3-bedroom, 4-bath, 3-car garage contemporary offers everything necessary for living the good life -- privacy, convenience to schools, shopping and entertainment, an easy commute to the business center, and abundant leisure time enjoyment options with neighbors and friends."
Finally, highlight the most important home features: This is where you should strive to paint meaningful word pictures. Be descriptive, but not overly detailed. Leave some specifics out. You might say something like "Old-world craftsmanship is evident in the finishes used throughout the home's 4,200 square feet, especially in the fine wood paneling and bookshelves of the home's private office."
Or, you can point to the evidence of upscale options and trendy finishes that "include an eco-friendly, sustainable choice of recycled glass countertops in the kitchen, low-VOC paint throughout, and main-level flooring crafted from reclaimed timbers."
Whatever you write in words is always better when accompanied by professional photographs that graphically illustrate the same features. It's not necessary to include a book's worth of photos, but words and pictures are better when they go hand in hand. There is little more disheartening for a prospective buyer than to read a glowing description of a home spa retreat only to find that there is no photograph of the space included with the listing or in the brochure. Coordinate your efforts with your photographer and your marketing team.
Keywords and Buzzwords
Define your potential market. Imagine what prospective buyers would type in to an online property search: Don't simply toss around phrases like "high-end finishes, family-friendly neighborhood, or spectacular views." Instead, utilize popular keywords to generate interest, adding filters and qualifiers as needed, such as the city or subdivision. Examples include:
• Beachside Cottage
• Ski Retreat
• Urban Condo
• City Lights
• Mountain Views
• Polished Wood Flooring
• Gated Community
Know Your Market
The copy you write about a high-end home will naturally be different from the copy that describes a mid-price starter home, but the same principles apply. However, don't make the mistake -- in either case -- of believing that buyers on one end of the price spectrum are any less concerned about quality and value, energy savings and sustainability, style and safety, or built-in features and community amenities.
Make every effort to describe a lifestyle rather than listing specific features. Weave specifics into general descriptions of rooms and spaces. While studies have confirmed that online readers appreciate skimmable copy and bullet points, lists can be overused. Typically, 8 to 10 bullet points are sufficient. Always stop short of making your property description simply a "laundry list" of features.
To write meaningful copy, acknowledge that there are some home features that should be specifically mentioned:
• A backyard pool, because it can be either a selling point or a deal killer, depending on the buyer;
• An eat-in kitchen;
• Ensuite baths for each bedroom;
• A detached garage, casita or other type of auxiliary building;
• Specialty spaces, including an exercise room, home theater or media room, finished attic, in-law or au pair quarters; and oversize lots or adjacent acreage or public land.
• Solar panels, or alternative energy provisions, including 240V electric car charging stations.
Use your in-depth knowledge of the local market to determine what other features deserve mention, knowing that your decision might vary substantially from one neighborhood to the next, and even from one season to another.
Monitor reactions and responses you receive, and adjust the way you write your next property description based on the feedback offered by clients.
Finally, never forget to include your contact and broker information (along with Department of Real Estate license number) and a call to action. You never know who will become your next client, or when and how they will appear. Ensure that you can be reached by anyone in need of your services!
Of course if there’s anything I can do for you, including helping you get started in our real estate license courses, please let me know or call 888 768 5285.