Updated: Jan 12, 2022
Agents need to write listing descriptions for an array of marketing outlets these days. Here are a few tips on making a property look better to buyers.
I get it, there’s not a writing component to the state real estate licensing exam. Writing listing descriptions is hard for some agents.
But you don’t get paid for your prose. It’s your expertise in navigating the market that earns you those monthly checks.
It never hurts to brush up on the little things in between check deposits, however. And today’s marketing best practices, specifically as they relate the variety of tools and tactics an agent needs to know, demand that every ounce of content you create helps contribute to the weight of your brand.
Eliminating typos and proper grammar should be table stakes. This isn’t about that.
Instead, here are some other ways to think about the standard listing description. Bookmark this page for review after you sign your next listing agreement. And if you don’t write your descriptions, send this to the person in your office who does.
Marketing across the web? Stay basic
Because many CRM and marketing tools automatically replicate content across multiple marketing channels, leading to the use of the same descriptions in “new listing” emails and text graphics in video walk-throughs, then you need to keep your listing language relatively flat and platform-agnostic.
You never know from where your lead is going to originate. Because of this, emphasize what’s going to stand out to the most number of people, avoiding unique features that appeal to more niche audiences.
Not everyone wants a hot tub. And many people aren’t familiar with concrete countertops. Allow those amenities to reveal themselves in a showing. Here’s an example:
Homebuyers looking for space and versatility will no doubt want to tour 3435 Thirty-six St. in the Numeric Heights community. Unlike its neighbors, this home sits on two lots with a mature greenspace offering shade, privacy, and countless landscaping possibilities. Inside, the finished basement and bonus room are ripe for a new owner’s imagination, as is the expansive kitchen, recently outfitted with upgraded appliances and neutral color schemes. In short, this house has as much potential as it does charm, location, and livability.
Targeted advertising? Tell a story
If you’re marketing leverages personas — meaning it matches available audience data with exiting buyer profiles to determine who (a persona) should see an ad — then use your listing description to tell a story.
Create an identity around the listing by fusing how the home overlaps with that persona’s typical lifestyle. This is a more targeted approach, ideal for higher-end homes, specialty construction opportunities, or listings in specific neighborhoods.
If you happen to snag some lead bycatch, all the better. The point is, use your words to craft a brand around the home.
A creative brief is a document advertising professionals use to summarize a potential campaign. What are its high points? Who’s the audience? Why will this theme work?
Consider your MLS description your creative brief; use it as a source from which to extract ideas for other marketing instances. For example, how can it be used on Twitter? How about Instagram and its important use of hashtags?
Have multiple versions of your listing’s copy prepared for direct use in other venues, even YouTube video summaries, and postcard copy.
Don’t tell us what we already know
Most multiple listing services don’t allow agents a lot of room to describe a property. Brevity is essential.
Don’t waste characters on retelling the person what they searched for. Your listing came up because they searched for three beds and a couple of bathrooms on Elm Street; no reason to belabor the point.
Use the space you’re given to elaborate on what MLS requirements only allow to be shared in a single field. There’s a basement? Great. I want to know if it’s finished or at least ready to be. Is there exterior egress? And the exterior workshop, is it wired and properly permitted?
The 100-or-so-word description you’re allowed may not be much, but use it for all it’s worth.
Again, every listing description you craft should be grammatically right. It’s OK if you don’t feel comfortable as a writer, this is why people outsource or leverage marketing staff. As best you can, keep the following in mind:
There’s no need for exclamation points; they’re best left for fictional dialogue.
Room names or home features don’t need to be capitalized, unless it’s the formal name of a brand, such as an appliance or lighting manufacturer. Don’t capitalize for emphasis.
Leave out superfluous narratives, such as “motivated sellers,” “priced to sell,” “great neighborhood,” and similar benign points. Buyers and cooperating agents will, or should, know those things.
Like all things, writing takes practice. Nothing written is truly ever finished. We can only write in the opportunities that time allows.
And you only have about six months.
By Craig Rowe
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