How To Write Property Listings That Stand Out From The Crowd

By on March 24, 2014

If you are in any way connected to the real estate industry, you might have realised by now that property transactions are either directly or indirectly responsible for bringing the bread and butter for a whole network of professionals and service providers. These include lawyers, appraisers, mortgage bankers and brokers, architects, contractors, obviously agents, etc. And other than these professionals, there are also the self-proclaimed “gurus” who teach you how to make $300,000 in passive income when you can currently afford only a $250,000 house, “experts” who talk about the obvious things that everybody already know, “visionaries” who make predictions on television that fail miserably but never get called out on their predictions plucked out of the air. You get the drift. If there are no transactions happening, many of these people will lose their jobs and have to resort to teaching $997 weekend workshops on how to get rich with properties in London.

You could then be astounded to learn that almost all transactions are ignited by property listings that take up a few square inches in the local newspapers, or the internet with headlines in less than 15 words. If we follow this train of thought, this basically means that copywriters (usually agents themselves) are responsible for keeping everyone in the real estate ecosystem employed with how much genius they put into their advertisements. So instead of just the buyers and sellers who are compensating the friendly agents, maybe all the players in the service chain should pay agents as well for keeping them afloat.

Whether you are an investor or agent, you will eventually come to realise (or already realised) that selling skills are essential for the type of success that exceeds the average individual. There is nothing wrong with being average and living a regular lifestyle. Some of my best friends are very contented this way. But if you want to get ahead or simply just want to make more sale and generate more leads, the skill of selling with copy is the number 1 skill you can possess. Don’t get me wrong, a $300,000 house will find it difficult to sell at $600,000 even with a catchy headline or edgy description. But when all other listing are priced right, it is the advert with the most adequate communication and promotion that will seize the day. It would be a shame as well when you have a great house to sell but unable to bring enough eyeballs of prospects looking at what you have to offer. In other words, you should bring it upon yourself as responsible for finding a great deserving owner for a great house. How? By starting to brush up your advertorial skills of course.

writing real estate lisiting advertisementsStop accepting what everyone else does as the norm

Among the many mistakes of sellers, the biggest one you can make is trying to look like everyone else. Basic common sense should give you a hunch that you must do something that stands out from the crowd.  But because we are exposed to so many advertisements each day, it is so easy to be conditioned into thinking what an advertisement should or should not look like. The challenge we often face is how to think outside the box. It’s not easy. And for most people, creativity is not something intuitive or something that can be easily learned. Let’s first look at a listing structure.

Listing structure

The regular classifieds listing often follow a structure that resembles more of a template. It would consist of a headline, description, and contact information. Sometimes, advertisers even skip the headline and jump straight into the description. It is as if they place listing just for the sake of doing so. Or they do it just so they can show clients that they are doing their jobs. It might work. But maybe if they tried to improve it rather than stay stagnant, they could have gotten better results.

We are excluding the use of media like videos and slideshows in this discussion. Those are not always possible with classifieds. As a more advanced player, you should include headline, opener, description, gimmick, and call to action with contact information. It’s not something that look so new after all is it?

Headline

When you place your ads on online classifieds sites, your headline is your number 1 focus. People get on these sites to search with keywords. And when they input their keywords, they are presented with a huge list of results, all with the headlines of listings. At this stage, how eye-catching your headline is will determine the number of clicks you get from real prospects. In more ways than 1, you only have that 1 chance to reel in a prospect.

The majority of agents or sellers try to squeeze in as much information about their houses as possible into the headline. This is not really the best way to craft them. Because you have to admit browsers do not buy via information from headlines. The goal of the headline is to draw in attention and curiosity so that a searcher clicks through to the advertisement itself.

If you grasp the concept that the role of a headline is purely to get clicks, this might be enough to start a paradigm shift on how you look at your advertising. Some of the proven methods of getting more eyeballs are the use of capital letters, positive or negative statements and funny remarks. You want your to stick out like a sore thumb. Don’t make false statements and don’t mislead. And very importantly, don’t say something that just looks too good to be true.

Example

YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS?! Ocean View Home for HOW MUCH?!

Opener

This is where you say something that summarizes what the property is all about with the clever use of adjectives (at the bottom of this post, we’ve included a list of over 100 adjectives you can use in your ads). Include what is the biggest selling point that is in the head of a potential buyer. Maybe it is because of proximity to a prestigious school, maybe it is near the airport, maybe it will be right at the heart of a new metropolitan city in 6 years, whatever. The question that a viewer will be asking himself the moment he clicks on your headline is “What is this all about?”. The role of your opener is to answer this question directly in 1 sentence. It is a careful balancing act where on one hand you want to give a full picture, while on the other hand you want to be a little vague so that an interested party will contact you to know more.

Example

Your wife will love this charmingly remodelled duplex home with an open sea view located 5 minutes from train station.

Description

This is where you pump out as much features as possible like a machine gun. Most listings these days just lazily list down everything as if it would be illegal not to do so. It might be boring yet effective. But if you want to make full use of the opportunity that the listing space presents that you paid for, write it out in a compelling paragraph full of engaging adjectives.

Let me just remind you that the best television ads do not just list down features of a product for a consumer to digest. They paint a beautiful story full of powerful words and fantasy-like benefits. Words are the most powerful tools in any marketer’s arsenal of tricks. In fact, very often for a successful infomercial product, the product owners will be making the most money. The next in line is the copywriter.

I know what you are thinking right now. You are thinking that you have the skills to write like a great copywriter, you would become one instead of sweating it out with everybody in real estate. It does not take a creatively gifted brain to write an engaging paragraph describing a house. It just takes a little effort and a little understanding of how they are structured. Many times, all you need is to write a proper description. Then sprinkle emotionally engaging descriptive words sparingly into it. You will find a whole list of them to use at the bottom of this article.

Example

Come see this fabulously furnished duplex home with tranquil panoramic view of the open sea. It comes with 3 bedrooms, 1 common bathroom and a master bathroom with a spa-like peaceful ambience. With 1,500 sqft of gracious space to move about, wake up everyday feeling on top of the world on the 30th floor and immerse yourself in the sunset while fully avoiding the afternoon sun. Situated right on the fringes of the bustling city, enjoy the peace of a mature neighbourhood while having easy access to the luxuries in town.

Gimmick

You cannot properly declare yourself as a salesman until you make proper use of gimmicks in your advertisements. People don’t buy products and services for the gimmicks that come along with them. But the thought of getting something extra is very tempting. There is a whole lot of deep psychology that goes on. Since you are not taking an exam for a psychology major, you just need to know that they work. They get people to take action. Especially those who are sitting on the fence thinking that they have a lot of time to wait before contacting you. By using the concept of scarcity, you can often get fence-sitters to act.

The common gimmicks we are often exposed to are the “Special promotion for 3 days only”, “First 30 callers get extra 10% discount”, “Buy today and get another free”, etc. Of course you are not going to give an extra house for free. But as an investor, home owner, or agent, what you could offer in your gimmick include paying for closing costs, offering some forms of creative financing, throwing in a new paint job, or a small discount within a small window period.

Example

Note that seller is offering to absorb 90% of closing costs if the deal is closed by the end of March.

Call to action (CTA)

In recent years, more and more marketers are advocating the power of calls to action. The truth is that many marketers today still do not practice CTA in their advertisements. The CTA is about asking people to take action, how to take action, and to take action now. This is not the time to act like you don’t care. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. You are selling something and someone reading an advert is expecting to be sold. Be bold.

Example

Call John Doe at 123-456-7890 NOW!

Balance your tone

It is important to be aware that you are selling a house, not a scam. If you word your statements that resemble a scam in any degree, people will assume that to be the truth and ignore you. Even if they know in their hearts that you are a real genuine seller, they might prefer not to deal with people who resort to shady tricks.

People are not stupid. They know the difference between a river view and a view of a very large drainage. They know that the shopping mall is more than “just a 10 minute walk”. Just because they prefer to be polite and not call out your nonsense does not make them easy meat. If you indulge in misleading practices or hiding material information, you are just making a fool out of yourself. A bigger issue these days is when buyers do not mind being misled. But that is a topic for another day.

In a nutshell, you are presenting facts in their best light without needing to bluff, confuse or mislead. Have a good headline in mind? Share it with everyone on our fanpage.

words for description
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Click here >> Adjectives

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4 Comments

  1. Jz

    March 28, 2014 at 5:48 am

    I will go with the tried and tested.
    For Sale – 3 Room Apartment in Town Center

  2. lucas

    March 29, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    POSH Home Looking For Appreciative OWNER!

  3. Wolsky

    March 30, 2014 at 2:51 am

    JUST USE ALL CAPS!

  4. ALEXIS

    April 1, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    Follow this format is enough to get qualified leads
    “property type/location/price”

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