Just as the listing photos and videos provide the visual context of your home to prospective buyers, a well-written home listing description tells the story. This is your chance to guide the home buyer’s imagination towards seeing themselves living comfortably and enjoyably in your home.
A great property description consists of four main elements. It begins with a captivating headline and a powerful opening statement. This is followed by a keyword-rich features list, and everything is wrapped up with a solid call to action. Let’s go through each in turn and what differentiates an effective example and an ineffective one.
A Captivating Headline
The headline serves two purposes—to quickly grab the buyer’s attention, and to summarize the biggest selling points of the home. As such, you’ll likely want the headline to include information about the property location. This is particularly true if it’s in a well-known area or near a tourist landmark of some sort.
Examples in Orange County would be the beach, the John Wayne Airport, South Coast Plaza, Fashion Island, Upper Newport Bay, Downtown Huntington Beach, etc. These are easily-recognizable and provide an instant geographical setting for your listing.
Additionally, you’ll want to determine which of your home features are most desired and showcase those front and center. Realtors with a good grasp of the local market can help determine the biggest selling points of your home. The home pre-listing audit is the perfect opportunity to go over these features with your agent.
A Powerful Opening Statement
Now that you’ve gotten the buyer’s attention, it’s time to introduce the opening statement. The opening statement should be a continuation of the headline, in the sense that it’s still summarizing the property’s main selling points.
Features to mention in this part of the description are the large-scale features. You wouldn’t necessarily want to talk about recessed lighting or granite countertops here. On the other hand, a Vegas-style pool, a newly-updated kitchen or a breathtaking view of the Newport Beach coastline would be worthy of mentioning here.
Keep in mind, it’s not necessarily about what features are most important to you as the home seller. It’s about what will help separate your listing from other concurrent listings and add the most perceived value. Again, it will help to have your real estate agent help you identify these elements when first preparing your listing.
A Keyword-Rich Features List
Next comes the meat and potatoes of the listing description: the features list. A big mistake many homeowners (and even some agents) make is simply listing out the features in an uninspired way. Sure, you might be able to fit more terms in this way, as the MLS limits descriptions to 250 characters. However, it will result in a missed opportunity.
Your goal is to lure the prospective buyer into scheduling a showing by emphasizing all the great features of your home in the best possible light. When done correctly, the reader will be excited about seeing the home in person. When you simply list out features back to back, it does nothing emotionally for the buyer. In fact, they’ll likely just skip over the majority of the paragraph and focus on the photos.
Photos are great, but unlike a text-based description, they don’t do a great job of explaining things “behind the scenes”. For instance, a photo may not show the brand or designer of an element of your home. It won’t do a great job of describing the type of hardwood floors throughout the house. Additionally, stuff like smart-home wiring is almost impossible to showcase in photos.
Per Zillow’s 2015 book Zillow Talk, several specific terms can have a big impact on a listing’s performance. Terms that have a positive impact include: granite, quartz, luxurious, captivating, stainless steel, landscaped, pergola, barn doors, shaker cabinets, remodeled, subway tile, and updated.
Terms to typically avoid include: fixer-upper, needs work, must-see (and other cliches), bargain, and investment. However, the term “investment” may be justified depending on your home sale preparation strategy.
A Solid Call-to-Action
Any good advertisement encourages the viewer to take action. It’s been shown that ads with a clear call to action perform drastically better than those without. Make no mistake, your home listing description is definitely an ad and thus should end with a strong call-to-action.
A great call-to-action is specific and creates urgency. You should encourage the buyer to schedule a showing before the home is snapped up by someone else. As we all know, in Southern California’s current housing market, such a statement is completely true!
When you put all of these elements together, it allows you to take prospective home buyers on a journey. The journey is what their experience would be living in your home. The photos and videos will complement this journey by providing visuals. The home listing description itself is what will help you hone in on the elements that you most want conveyed.
If you have any questions about creating a winning listing description, please let me know in the comments. You can also contact us if you’d like to discuss specifics of listing your home in more detail.