7 Tips for Writing Real Estate Listings That Sell
Knowing how to write a great real estate listing description is a skill that every agent needs to master. The reality is that homebuying is an inherently emotional process and homebuyers can become overwhelmed by all the information they have to take in. Highlighting the right selling points, the right way can make the difference between a property getting noticed and being overlooked. So, while a good description isn’t singularly going to sell a property, a bad one can cause it to sell slower. Here are our top tips for writing real estate listing descriptions that will quite literally move people.
1. Use a template
There are two good reasons to use a template for your real estate listing descriptions. First, you want buyers to be able to skim and retain information quickly. Using a well thought-out, familiar structure will help people know what to look for at a glance. Second, you want to be able to reproduce your efforts with ease in the future. Working from a tried-and-true template will enable you to cover your bases efficiently and without errors, every time.
So what is the anatomy of great real estate listing descriptions?
5 parts of a real estate listing description
Part 1: The Headline
The goal is to keep it short and sweet. Grab attention, say something that highlights the best feature of the property, then end it. Pro Tip: If you’re not sure what to lead with, say something about the location.
Part 2: The Opening Statement
A good opening statement builds excitement and features the next selling points that didn’t make it to the headline. It should answer the question, “who is this for?” and invite the right buyer to keep reading.
Part 3: The Body Copy
The body copy makes up the bulk of your text and it’s where you rhyme off the property details. However, don’t simply list the features. Instead, use descriptive language to help the buyer imagine a life in this home.
Part 4: Disclaimers / Important Notes (optional)
Are there any important notes about the property or the transaction that need to be mentioned? If so, include them here.
Examples could include a flexible closing date, an “as-is” sale, a short sale, any promotions, etc.
Part 5: The Call-to-Action
Make sure the audience has a clear next step, whether that’s giving you a call or booking a showing.
Example: “This home will not be on the market for long. Schedule a private showing today.”
2. Start with the Seller’s Insights
You may be an expert agent and know just what is special about a property after a tour. However, it would still likely save you some time and energy if you would just talk to the current owner. Find out what attracted them to the home in the first place. Explore what unique characteristics and features the neighborhoor has that may not be immediately apparent. This will make it easier to write a great real estate listing description. Moreover, it will help you tap into the mindset and values of a potential buyer.
3. List the Features but Sell the Benefits
“Here’s what our product can do” and “Here’s what you can do with our product” sound similar, but they are completely different approaches.— Jason Fried (@jasonfried) November 13, 2013
Benefits vs. Features. There is an important distinction between the two and it’s well known in marketing circles. Despite this, this distinction is often overlooked by business people (and it’s to their detriment). Features are what the product offers. In the case of a home, features could include an open concept kitchen, the finishes, the amenities, etc. Benefits are how the features positively impact the end consumer. To use the example above, this can be an explanation of how easy it is to entertain in this kitchen.
Take a look at the difference in practice:
Both cover the same property information. However the second example invites you to imagine how you would use the space and who you would host. That internal narrative is the first step to falling in love with a property. And with the right language, you can make it easier for them to get there.
4. Don’t Overshare
There’s a delicate balancing act between honest disclosure and oversharing, and you want to tread that line carefully. You want to be honest enough so that the potential buyer is not disappointed when they see the property. But, you also want to avoid leading with downsides, which can prevent them from seeing it in the first place. Think of your real estate listing description as your dating profile. If you’re allergic to cats, you don’t want to hide that from a potential partner who’s got two. However, you also don’t want to advertise all the other ailments you’re afflicted with before they have a chance to get to know you.
5. Use Popular Search Words
All serious homebuyers have a list of property qualities that they would welcome as a nice perk. When they’re browsing for properties, especially if they do it online, desirable keywords will jump out at them. So, if your property offers these features, make sure not to bury or abbreviate them in the listing description.
Bonus: According to research by the National Association of Home Builders, here are the top search words that attract homebuyers:
- Shaker cabinets
- Farmhouse sink
- Guest suite
- Smart Home
- Barn doors
- Laundry room
- Walk-in pantry
- Exterior lighting
- ENERGY STAR rated windows and appliances
6. Create a Sense of Urgency
This is a timeless ad industry trick that every real estate agent should be aware of. In fact, according to an Experian study on digital marketing, conveying that something is time sensitive improved transaction-to-click rates by 59%. However, just saying “this property won’t last” isn’t enough. You also need to justify why so that they feel compelled to act. Otherwise, this just reads like pushy marketing. Try building up the property value by highlighting its rare or in demand features. Or announce a deadline, when the seller will be looking at offers.
7. Pay Attention to Grammar, Accuracy & Length
When it comes to real estate transactions, details matter. Did you know that more than 43% of people surveyed said they would be less likely to look at a property if a listing had typos? And this is to say nothing of the potential miscommunication that can happen in the process. A good starting strategy is to use spell check, run things through Grammarly, and proofread, proofread, proofread.
Pro tip: Check out our article on Embarrassing Real Estate Typos to make sure you’re not generating laughs at your expense. Spoiler: Spelling mistakes are just the tip of that iceberg!
Ideal Real Estate Listing Description Length: There does appear to be some debate regarding the ideal length for real estate listing descriptions. Zillow data suggests that longer is better, showing best results for listings with around 250 words. Meanwhile, Redfin reported a decline in overall performance (how fast the property sells as well as whether it sells over asking) when the listing description exceeded 150 words. Their recommendation is in the neighborhood of 50 words! That said, both their research is close to a decade old now.
At Local Leader®, we pay attention to data as well as current trends. And since the data is conflicting, we recommend erring on the side of being concise (which is in line with our short attention spans). Write only the most important highlights, then end it. On average, we see great listing descriptions in the neighborhood of 100 words. But, if your property listing requires a handful more, as long as you’re following the guidelines here, we give you permission to go for it.
Write Real Estate Listing Descriptions with Confidence
Writing great real estate listing descriptions is a necessary part of every successful real estate business. And with the tips outlined above, you should be well equipped to craft property stories that move people. We hope they’ve been helpful and that you’ll put them to good use! For more valuable industry tips, tricks, and tools, subscribe to the Local Leader® newsletter.