If you’re in the business of selling properties, you’re going to have to write a lot of listings.
Even if you’re a one-off private seller, creating a really effective listing – one that actually gets buyers through the door – is a vital first step in the sales process and there’s more to getting it right than you might think.
Most buyers are sure of two things: the kind of property they want and where they want it. You can’t change that, but you can make sure that once those two boxes are ticked, your property goes to the top of their shortlist!
The key to getting enquiries rolling in is to make sure your listing stands out from the crowd and captures the imagination of your prospective buyer.
It’s all a matter of perspective: look at writing listings as a creative exercise rather than a chore and you will get the results you want.
Dare to be different
Scrolling through the property ads, you may be struck by how similar to one another many of them are. Of course, they are usually informative and succinct, but you needn’t take the average listing as your template.
You should aim to be decidedly non-average. To do that you’ll need to look carefully at the unique selling points of each property and really make them shine.
That being said, it’s important to keep to a standard structure. Buyers will not appreciate Haiku poetry or reams of flamboyant prose. Generally, the format should be:
- Headline plus picture
- Property description including key features
- Closing statement/call to action
It’s how you present these sections that will really matter.
Headline and pictures: first impressions count
Always remember that anyone looking at property listings will at first scan, not read in depth, each entry, so here is your opportunity to grab them by the proverbials!
Browsers spend more time looking at property photos than the text.
According to a 2012 report in The Journal of Real Estate Research (Volume 34), of the time buyers spend browsing listings, 20% is spent reading about the property features and reading the agent’s description, and 60% is spent viewing photos.
So it’s important to have some decent, professional pictures and the most attractive one as the thumbnail.
If the exterior of the property is uninspiring, a great photo of its best interior room will more likely encourage a buyer to click into the listing.
For the headline, some well-chosen adjectives or striking language should do the trick.
As space is limited, there’s only so much information you can squeeze into the headline, but you can add details like number of rooms or energy performance rating in the description field.
Details of the location and price can sit right under the headline, but let your first words make an impact. For example:
‘Live the dream! Charming café in the heart of the Cotswolds’
‘No vacancies! Picture perfect B&B in popular Devon resort’
Property description: paint a picture
The property description should be made up of two parts: the key features and property details.
Key features should cover all practical information about the property and anything that may appeal to your target buyers, including:
- Type of property: detached /terraced/flat
- Number of bedrooms
- Number of bathrooms
- Parking/transport links
- Proximity to good schools/catchment area
- Garden/exterior space plus dimensions
- Type of heating/electric and eco-credentials
- Security features – eg alarm or CCTV
Next comes the property details and here’s where a little creativity goes a long way.
A well written property description takes plain facts and describes them in a way that can spark the imagination of a potential buyer. With an average of 250 words to play with, this takes some skill.
After your initial headline, buyers will want to know what exactly they are looking at and the first couple of lines should be designed to draw the buyer into reading the rest of the description.
Again, positive, descriptive words are a winner:
‘This popular, character-full café boasts a loyal year-round clientele as well as a roaring summer trade.’
‘A beautiful, recently refurbished B&B with modern, stylish rooms including spacious owner accommodation and a charming, mature garden.’
For the rest of the description include any appealing features of the property and choose your words carefully. A kitchen can be a ‘chef’s dream’ rather than just ‘well equipped’, views can be ‘sweeping’ or ‘sublime’ rather than ‘great’, an original cast-iron bath can be ‘perfect for a soak after a long day’.
Less appealing attributes can be spun more positively – a small room could be ‘cosy’ or a paved garden ‘a low-maintenance courtyard’ – but it’s important not to go so far as to be misleading.
There is also a fine line between enthusiasm and sounding desperate so always avoid using capital letters or too many exclamation marks.
Always ask yourself who this property might appeal to, and tailor the description accordingly.
The end of your listing should always be a call to action: ‘Don’t miss this opportunity, ‘Call now’ or ‘Arrange a viewing by contacting XXX’. Make it easy for a prospective buyer to book a viewing by including correct phone numbers, emails and web links.