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The technique that instantly improves your property descriptions


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One of my favorite things to view on social media is bad MLS photos. You know the kind of thing — strange photos of corners or doorways with no context, closeups of appliances for no apparent reason, photos of filthy or falling down rooms.

“Who would ever take that picture, much less post it?” I always think.

But just as some agents take terrible photos, other agents write terrible property descriptions. Great writing can help set your real estate business apart from the rest of the agents in a given market, and great property descriptions can get buyers through the door just like great photos do.

So what can you do to ensure your property description stands out for all of the right reasons, whether it’s on the MLS, a brochure, a flier or social media?

Don’t bury the lede

Lede is an old journalism term for the first sentence of a story, thus to “bury the lede” is to have the main point of the story in the wrong place.

When I wrote for a newspaper in the early ’90s, one of the first things I learned was to have a standalone paragraph at the beginning of the article that summed up the main point of the story and made readers want to keep reading.

How does this apply to real estate?

Have you ever read a property description that didn’t really talk about the property? I recently read an MLS description for a luxury property that led with the information that the home was walking distance from a grocery store.

Who buys a million dollar home for grocery proximity? The description went on to talk about the neighborhood and didn’t get to any description of the home until almost halfway through.

Looking at the pictures, it’s a great house. But nobody is going to want to come and see it based on that lukewarm description.

Lede with the good stuff

Start your description with an irresistible hook. Find the “wow” moment in your tour of the home.

Indeed, when you go for a listing appointment, make that one of the things you look for: “What is going to be the first line of the description?”

Maybe the entrance is exceptionally impressive. Maybe the staircase gives you visions of Scarlett O’Hara. Maybe there is a window that gives out onto the most perfect view of an idyllic little corner of the lawn.

Whatever makes you gasp (in a good way) about that house should be your lede.

Choose your words wisely

Once you know what you want to write about, write about it with emotion. Don’t just say that entrance is huge. Say it’s grand. The staircase isn’t lovely. It’s sweeping. That view isn’t nice. It’s charming.

Every word doesn’t have to be fancy, but the main descriptors should be a little more special than everyday language. One exception: studies have shown that houses with the word “beautiful” in the description have fewer days on market, so it’s okay to fit that in somewhere, even though it’s a bit of a cliche.

If you know there’s something that buyers in the area are especially interested in, that’s a great lede.

If everyone is clamoring for a gourmet kitchen, start there. If there’s a particularly desirable floor plan in a subdivision, start there. If you’re in an area where outdoor living is a way of life, feature that great deck or patio.

Why make buyers scour the description and the pictures hoping to see the main thing they care about?

I often find when I am writing contracts that I have to spend time searching the photos of a home looking for elements that should have been prominently featured, preferably in that first line.

Of course, writing great property descriptions is an art, and there are many more ways to increase their effectiveness.

But if you’re looking to up your writing game, this one tip will definitely improve your next description.

A great lede will help you draw buyers into the rest of the description, and, hopefully, into viewing the home in real life as well.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on Facebook or Twitter

Email Christy Murdock Edgar

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