As real estate appraisers, we read through tons of listings every day when searching for comparable homes. For the most part, these listings are all very similar. There are a few different strategies we’ve seen for writing a listing that always seem to catch our attention, and in our experience those are the properties that sell the fastest.
The real goal when writing a listing is just to peak someone’s interest long enough to get your property a second or longer look. If your listing makes people curious, they’re more likely to forget about that 4th bedroom they just had to have when they see the photos of your properties spacious lawn- even though it wasn’t what they were looking for.
Here are some tips to write a better real estate listing:
1. Don’t do what everybody else is doing.
“Everyone does it this way; I guess this is just how you write a listing.” –everyone who’s property isn’t selling.
Being original isn’t easy. It seems so simple to just copy-and-paste the features of the home you want to sell into a standardized template and post away- but that’s exactly what we don’t want.
You want to stand out and be eye-catching, you want that buyer to click your link. There are a few good places in the listing that are best suited for a little originality. It may seem unorthodox, but don’t be afraid about scaring away buyers with your stand-out listing- you’ll attract a lot more viewers than you’ll lose.
2. The Beginning is Everything.
The BEGINNING is your first chance to catch a buyer’s attention. It’s literally the most important part of the listing.
A headline is the first thing the reader will see. Just like in the newspaper, a headline needs to be gripping, eye catching, and head turning. If you can make your headline stand out from the others, regardless of whether or not it provides all the typical information, then that’s what you want to do.
2 Bed 2 Bath 2 Story Colonial close to Downtown!
If you were browsing on craigslist, you might click this ad- but you would only click it if you already had a decent idea of what you were looking for. Now let’s look at this ad compared to another one:
2 Bed 2 Bath 2 Story Colonial close to Downtown!
EVER WANTED TO FEEL LIKE ROYALTY???? This DOWNTOWN COLONIAL HOME is fit to BE YOUR CASTLE!!
Whether or not I’m looking for a colonial home downtown, I still might click this listing just based on the way it’s written. Even if you were looking for a tiny little 1 bedroom apartment, you can’t tell me this listing doesn’t make you curious at all- what does a colonial castle look like? Who knows- but you’ll probably click to find out.
Notice how the 2nd listing is more compelling, even though it doesn’t tell you how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are. When it comes to the headline, always remember- You’re trying to sell the property, not just describe it.
3. Describing the Property- The Right Way.
The first thing you say after the headline needs to get the obvious out of the way, and emphasize the homes most noteworthy features in a single line. The priority is to give just enough information to intrigue the reader so they continue reading. Let’s take a look at a bad listing:
3 BED 2 BATH COLONIAL. NEW CARPET NEW PAINT Gourmet Kitchen, breakfast bar, Master bedroom with walk-in closet and private bath. Conveniently Close to schools, shopping, metro station 4 blocks away, minutes from the beltway.
While this listing gives you all the essential information, it doesn’t draw you in. Try to start your listing off with something like this:
“You’ll love this _______ near ______.”
“You don’t want to miss this ______ home!”
“This is the _____ that you’ve been looking for!”
“Check out this _______ “
The goal is to paint a quick picture of the property- to give the reader the most essential information about the property while still maintaining their attention. Regardless of how beautiful and well-written your listing is, you still still can’t sell a property unless if has the features people want.
4. The Most Important Features.
There are some things you should mention in a listing, and there are other things that you NEED to mention in a listing. There are the obvious things that you’ll see in just about every real estate listing in the world:
Bedrooms • Bathrooms • Property Size • Location • Parking • Recent Updates or Renovations
We find these in almost every listing we see. Here some features we often come across during appraisals that should have been mentioned in the listing:
Porches/Decks/Patios • Scenic Views • Fireplaces • Nearby Public Transportation • Finished Basements
We’ve seen properties with full screened in porches in the back, properties that overlook a lovely lake, properties 2 minutes from the metro station… all things could potentially draw a buyer in, but were never given the chance. Don’t forget them in your listing.
So those are a few of the major things to keep in mind when writing a real-estate listing. We’ll leave you with a just a few more tips to help you get the click:
• GO EASY ON THE CAPSLOCK. DO YOU SEE HOW DIFFICULT THIS IS TO READ? BUYERS FEEL THE SAME WAY.
• Fill out EVERYTHING you can. There is a reason that an MRIS listing has spaces for things like roofing, soil type, topography, windows… we get that these things are boring. But collectively, its much more compelling for a reading when they see an ad is completed to its fullest potential.
• Include as many photos as possible! If you’ve written your listing well enough to get a buyers attention, let them see as much of the property as they can while they’re still sitting in front of their computer while you’ve got their attention. If you show them enough they like, then maybe, just maybe- they’ll want to see more.
Jonathan Montgomery Founder and President of the The Real Estate Appraisal Group. He has been a real estate professional since 1998. He’s been a broker, and investor, and now serves as an appraiser. He currently works as an appraiser, doing real estate appraisals in Washington D.C., Southern Maryland, and Northern Virginia.