This article published in an expanded version at Inman.
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.
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.
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.
A great lede will help you draw Buyers in to the rest of the description, and, hopefully, in to viewing the home in real life as well. In this case, we DON'T want to save the best for last. And if you need someone to do the writing for you, let me know! I love writing descriptions, blogs, and other content marketing pieces so you can get back to work giving your clients great service.