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Write Better Listing Descriptions in Just 5 Minutes

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By Wendy Forsythe

While we all know the importance of including great photos in our online listings, an equally important—and often overlooked—component to online promotion is the property description and remarks section. This area of online property marketing offers agents huge opportunities to demonstrate their creativity and advertising expertise, and most importantly, to grab the attention of prospective buyers.

To make each of your listings stand out as something really special, you’ll want to avoid some common mistakes when writing your listing descriptions.

- Avoid acronyms. We love them in real estate, but often our alphabet soup of terms doesn’t translate well to a buyer reading the description section of a listing. It’s best to use the long form of terms to provide clarity and avoid miscommunication.

- Avoid feature lists in your descriptions. Since features like number of bedrooms and bathrooms are typically already included in the details section of your listing, incorporating this information into your description is often redundant. Restating this information in your description means wasting a valuable opportunity to highlight other information about the home.

- Avoid clichés. Terms like “fixer-upper,” “won’t last long,” and “motivated seller” are not only overused, but really poor examples of our creativity as marketers.

With a little extra effort, you can take your description or property remarks to a whole new level.

- Start with a headline. Borrow a technique from offline advertising and start every description with a catchy headline. Pick three to six words that will really jump out and catch the reader’s attention, making them want to read on. Use more action words in your opening headline and fewer nouns. Be creative!

- Tell a short story. Even when faced with character limitations, you can still craft a short story. There should be an opening (we discussed the headline above), a body of the story and a conclusion. Following this model will allow you to weave together a very compelling narrative about the property.

- Use emotion. People buy homes based on emotional responses. It’s a long-standing joke in our industry that buyers fall in love with those homes that elicit some sort of gut reaction. Regardless of whether the features match their wish list, they overlook those details simply because of an emotional connection. Tap into those emotions when creating your story. Convey in your listing how it would feel to sit by the fireplace, watch the kids play in the backyard, or cook a holiday dinner for the family.

- Develop multiple versions of your property description and change them frequently. With three or four different stories, you can appeal to different buyer “hot buttons” and keep the marketing of your listing fresh. Sellers will especially appreciate this extra effort. Change the description every couple of days if your days on market is short, and weekly for listings that are taking a little longer to sell.

It just takes an extra five minutes spent on this important area of your online listing to make a huge impact. And, doesn’t everyone have five minutes to spare? The return on investment will be worth it!

Wendy Forsythe is executive vice president/head of global operations at Carrington Real Estate Services, where she is responsible for the operations and growth of the national brokerage licensed in 22 states and with more than 1,200 agents. You can email her at wendy.forsythe@carringtonres.com. To learn more about Carrington Real Estate Services, visit www.carringtonrealestate.com/join.

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