One of the primary pain points real estate commentators, influencers and content creators imagined ChatGPT helping with when it first came out was writing the MLS property description. As someone who makes a living, in part, by writing property descriptions for agents and brokers all over North America, I was initially skeptical about the bot’s capabilities in this area.
However, I wanted to know more about ChatGPT and what it could and couldn’t do in this regard. I’ve spent a fair amount of time playing around with it and working with clients who use it to organize their thoughts as they plan their content. I find the platform is useful for iteration, ideation and organization, but not so much for writing the finished product.
I’m always coming from a place of service, so rather than scolding you for using ChatGPT or talking it down, my goal is to help you if you choose to use it. Of course, I hope you’ll reach out to me for your property descriptions, but if you don’t have the budget for that, here’s my best advice for DIYing them using an AI large language model like ChatGPT.
5 drawbacks to using ChatGPT to write MLS property descriptions
First, here are some of the problems you’ll run into when you use ChatGPT and some strategies for improving your output:
1. Lack of real-time data
ChatGPT can’t really provide insight into current information about the property. It doesn’t draw on existing or past descriptions and it doesn’t seem to pull from the portals in a meaningful way. There’s often a lag between the most recent update and current info, so double-check any “facts” ChatGPT offers about a neighborhood or property.
2. Stylistic inconsistencies
Descriptions may be repetitive, overly flowery, or, alternatively, lacking in style. It helps to be specific with your prompts and let the platform know whether you’re dealing with a luxury property or if the market has specific features that should be reflected in the style. It’s especially important to be mindful of your own brand and the style of your other content and make sure that it’s aligned with the output.
3. Significant chance of inaccuracies
ChatGPT doesn’t know about the specific property you’re looking at. It’s drawing on a wide range of resources to come up with what it thinks of as an optimal description. For example, I once wrote a description for a house that had no kitchen (the home was being listed because the owners had run out of money during their renovation). This was right around the time that ChatGPT had first come out, so out of curiosity I asked it for a property description for the property. It waxed poetic about the beautiful upgraded kitchen in the property because it expected there to be one based on other descriptions it had been trained on.
4. Difficulty with word or character count
In practical terms, this is probably the biggest thing you’re going to struggle with. You can’t just say “Give me a 500-word description” or 1000 characters or whatever. You can ask it to make a long description output shorter, but then it’s hard to get it to shorten it to a specific length. The best option is probably to let it write a longer description than you need and start paring it down to the correct length.
5. No awareness of fair housing issues
ChatGPT may include words and phrases that you shouldn’t be using in your property descriptions. It may talk about family or children’s spaces, or it may include language that limits the property’s suitability to specific groups. Always check carefully to ensure that there’s nothing in the description that would call your commitment to fair housing and fiduciary responsibility into question.
5 ways to improve the output of ChatGPT for property descriptions
1. Be specific in prompts
Make sure that your input is as thorough as possible and include as many of the property’s details as you can to keep the output from being too vague or general.
2. Revise again (and again)
Continue to ask ChatGPT to revise the output and make it closer to the desired tone. Consider asking for shorter and longer versions, a more fun version, a more formal version, and so on to gather multiple ways of describing the property.
3. Provide bullet points or lists
Offer ChatGPT a list of specifics that you want to include and consider the way in which you organize your details. For example, you may want to include a bullet list of features in their order of importance so that the description flows the way you want it to with the correct items prioritized.
4. Experiment with different prompts
If you’re not getting the output you want at first, try rephrasing aspects of your request to get different versions of the description. Action verbs in particular can be a powerful way to differentiate your intention.
I asked ChatGPT to provide some examples of different verbs and how it understands them. Here’s what it said:
Action verbs can be a powerful way to guide ChatGPT in generating different types of output. Here are some action verbs along with explanations on how they can influence the model's responses:
Use "Describe" to instruct ChatGPT to provide detailed and comprehensive information about a subject. For example, "Describe the key features of this property, focusing on its interior design and amenities."
By using "Compare," you can ask ChatGPT to highlight the similarities and differences between two or more properties. For instance, "Compare this property to similar homes in the neighborhood, emphasizing its unique selling points."
Instruct ChatGPT to create persuasive content that emphasizes the positive aspects of a property. For example, "Persuade potential buyers by highlighting the benefits of living in this neighborhood and the lifestyle this property offers."
Use "Summarize" to ask ChatGPT to condense information into a brief and concise overview. For instance, "Summarize the key features of this property in 100 words for a quick and informative listing."
Instruct ChatGPT to generate content with a promotional tone, focusing on marketing language. For example, "Advertise this property as a dream home, emphasizing its luxurious features and outstanding location."
Ask ChatGPT to create a narrative or story-like description to engage potential buyers. For instance, "Narrate a day in the life of someone living in this property, highlighting the convenience of nearby amenities."
Use "Highlight" to specify particular features or aspects that should be emphasized in the generated content. For example, "Highlight the energy-efficient features of this property and how they contribute to cost savings."
Instruct ChatGPT to provide explanations for specific details or features of a property. For instance, "Explain the architectural design of this home, highlighting any unique elements that set it apart."
Ask ChatGPT to make recommendations, such as suggesting who the ideal buyer might be or what lifestyle the property is best suited for. For example, "Recommend this property for young professionals seeking a vibrant urban lifestyle."
Use "Customize" to tailor the generated content to a specific audience or purpose. For example, "Customize the property description for families, focusing on nearby schools, parks, and family-friendly features."
Experimenting with different action verbs allows you to guide ChatGPT toward generating content that aligns with your specific goals for property descriptions.
NOTE: As you can see from those last two bullet points, ChatGPT can lead you into language and details that could violate fair housing. Again, while you might use it to guide your prewriting and idea generation, you are ultimately responsible for the finished output.
5. Use ChatGPT to create additional versions of your description
Once you have a finished version of your MLS description, ask ChatGPT to use it as the basis for social media captions, brochure copy, bullet lists, and more. This will allow you to create more robust marketing collateral quickly and conveniently.
Unlike a professional writer, ChatGPT is not a plug-and-play solution. It is, however, a tool that you can use to generate ideas and to create an initial draft that you can then refine into a finished product.