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listing_remarksI believe every house has a story to tell, and our job as listing agents is to tell that story. I was excited to read that there is now research from Zillow providing statistics on the real impact that listing remarks have on the salability of properties.

The first question often asked is, “How long should a listing remark be?” The answer is approximately 250 words. Any longer and there isn’t a positive impact on sales price, and fewer words have been shown to negatively impact the sale price of the property.

Studies conducted by Zillow, and detailed in the recently published book “Zillow Talks: The New Rules of Real Estate,” concluded that certain words have a positive impact on the sales price, while other words actually have a negative impact on the salability.

Positive words include granite, stainless, impeccable, gentle rolling hills, remodeled, captivating and luxurious.

Words shown to have a negative impact on sales price include modern, unique, nice, cosmetic, bargain, fixer-upper and quaint. Of 8,000 listings studied, listings that used the words investment, potential, or TLC sold for 7 percent less than the asking price.

Use your 250 words to help your buyers become aware of aspects of the property they cannot see in the photos. This is where storytelling comes alive. You’ve got 250 words to tell the story of the house. Don’t waste it on repetitive features like number of bedrooms or bathrooms that can easily be seen in the detailed property sheet. Instead, give the reader an experience of what it would be like to live in the home, to own the property as an investment, or to renovate the home.

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

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

Tell a short story. There should be an opening (we discussed the headline above), a body of the story, and a conclusion. Following this method will allow you to weave together a very compelling narrative about the property. Remember, people buy homes based on an emotional response, so tie into feelings when creating your story.

Develop multiple versions of your property description and change them frequently. With three or four different stories, you can appeal to different buyers’ “hot buttons” and keep the marketing of your listing fresh. Sellers will especially appreciate this extra effort.

If you want to improve the salability of your listings, then improve the quality of your listing remarks. Happy storytelling!

Wendy Forsythe is the executive vice president and head of global operations at Carrington Real Estate Services, where she is responsible for the operations and growth of the national brokerage, with over 2,300 agents.

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