Front Of House & Other Really Important Information

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with RealSatisfied

front of houseAs I read Rick & Ines' great post Don't Steal The Show this morning, one line from the post caught my attention. "I have never understood why some agents have a fixation with walking people around a house saying "this is the bathroom, this is the kitchen, this is the pool," isn't that obvious?"

It struck me because this is exactly the same behavior some real estate agents display in their marketing of the home.

We don't buy houses based on information. Buying a house is an emotional decision.

And yet, property descriptions are filled with an endless stream of adjectives that do nothing but add to the noise. When your combing the Internet in your search for a new home, all of the descriptions begin to sound alike. The adjectives are so prevalent that they lose their value. Since I've never read "ugly master bath" before, I pay no attention to the words "beautiful" or "spacious" or "fabulous" or "gorgeous" placed in the description. Basically all you're telling me is that there is a master bath. 

And, it really helps me NOT to have you put as the caption to a photo of the front of the house, "front of house." I know this may come as a surprise to some, but if I'm blind and can't see that it's the front of the house from the photo, then I can't read your caption either. 

Your job is to get me to begin living in the house. I need to feel that this can be my home.

We start our search for a home based on information. "I'm looking for a four bedroom, three bath house in Woodland Hills, between $650 -$700K." But I've never bought a house based on information. We had been looking for our last home for months and had specific criteria and price range in mind. But the house we ended up buying was $50K over our "budget" and had one fewer bathroom and no master bedroom. We just fell in love with it the moment we walked in. We rationalized the purchase despite the fact that this homes "information" didn't match what we were looking for.

Help the Internet shopper begin the process of falling in love with the house.

Do your clients a favor: use more verbs than adjectives. Don't describe what's in the photo, describe how they're going to feel when they're in the photo! So, instead of "front of house," try "enjoy quiet evenings on the front porch."  Instead of "gorgeous master bath," try something like, "soak in your private retreat." Instead of "elegant dining room," which is more a comment on the furniture that will leave with the current owners, try "entertain friends and family." You will set the home apart and yourself at the same time.

Craig Schiller's Real Estaging website has this as one of the reasons to stage a home properly. "Real Estaging creates an image of an inviting lifestyle that potential buyers picture themselves living." Your Internet presentation must have the same goal. Effective titles make a world of difference.

Be creative. Show your seller you understand their home. Try to use verbs when possible. Help the Internet shopper fall in love.

If you have used some creative descriptions that you felt worked well, give 'em up! We can all use the inspiration. 

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Rainer
35,766
Neal Pender
IMPACT Carolinas Realty LLC - Concord, NC
Great Post Jeff...In today's market, capitalizing on those emotional hot buttons makes the difference between blending in the crowd and setting your listings apart.  The Luxury Home Specialist course talks about this as well.  There is an agent who was a professional copywriter in his earlier career.  He put his writing skills to use in creating elaborate and emotion invoking narrative in his website descriptions.  I too tire of seeing agents on HGTV pointing out that "this is the kitchen..."  Just as the advent of email has led to a resurgent appreciation of handwritten notes, I think the bells and whistles of online photos and virtual tours are best used when combined with well-written narrative that eases the potential buyer into the lifestyle about which they dream...Thanks for the reminder to step up my marketing efforts!
Dec 21, 2006 04:02 PM #20
Ambassador
1,641,932
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection
Great post, I am inspired to review my existing tours and will apply these principles when creating a new tour or writing an AD.
Dec 21, 2006 05:48 PM #21
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA

Neal, the luxury market does do a better job of this, that's for sure. Well written narrative can be a real differentiator for any price range.

Jennifer, I'm happy to hear this. Send me a link to your next effort and let me see how it turns out! 

Dec 21, 2006 05:52 PM #22
Rainmaker
612,811
Sharon Simms
Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International - Saint Petersburg, FL
St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS
For great real estate copy, check out Stan Barron's site.
Dec 21, 2006 09:46 PM #23
Rainer
23,263
Shannon Sims
Judy Burkett Realtors - Baton Rouge, LA
As an exclusive buyer's agent I have a different take on this concept.  When I show a home I never say:  What a great backyard.  I say:  Boy, can't you see your kids back here on Saturday morning playing football?  I never say:  This is a big family room  I say:  Where will you place your Christmas tree?  In front of the big window where the neighbors can enjoy it or over by the fireplace where it is visable from the kitchen?
Dec 21, 2006 11:18 PM #24
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA

Shannon, that is an excellent example of evocative copy!

Sharon, since this started out as a reaction to Rick & Ines' great post Don't Steal The Show, we may have come full circle. This kind of thinking has to extend to our conversations as well. Of course you need to answer specific questions with specific answers, but your conversational style is engaging. Done correctly it moves they buyer closer to home.

Dec 22, 2006 12:21 AM #25
Rainmaker
230,742
Craig Schiller
Trempealeau, WI

Hey Deputy Jeff... first thanks for the props.

Yup... the ads and images MUST be "staged' as much as the property itself.

Awesome point as always.

Me

 

Dec 22, 2006 07:51 AM #27
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Craig... it's all about staging! : )
Dec 22, 2006 10:39 AM #28
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Whenever you market a home on the Internet, whether on an MLS site, your own website, realtor.com, etc. you are also marketing yourself to potential new clients - both buyers and sellers. I believe your written words are as important in this effort as the photos you provide. I think you'll do yourself a world of good if your words add to the imagery rather than explaining it (telling me that I'm seeing the living room is boring me and detracting from the drama of the presentation). That's even more true when text length is limited (the MLS). It's more challenging to write great copy with fewer words. It's worth the effort. My information is anecdotal, but I've talked to hundreds of Realtors and those who write great copy almost always have success in attracting new clients from their Internet marketing. 
Dec 22, 2006 12:46 PM #29
Rainer
31,280
Jessica Hughes
Ambiance Staging - Boulder, CO

Jeff, I love how you see yourself as a 'stager', at least to some extent.  You are a credit to our name.

I love your posts; you are intelligent, innovative in your thinking and bring fresh content here on AR. 

And I think it's cool that 6 kids!  You are super cool, and we're glad to have you here!

Dec 22, 2006 01:34 PM #30
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA

Bill, thanks for chiming in and adding to this conversation.

 Jessica, thank you. I wish I could take full credit for much of my comments, but a lot of them are the result of hanging out with Bill (who commented before you) and hours and hours hanging out with a very bright team of people who analyze things differently than most. I've benefited from their insights and it's nice to be able to share them here. I'm happy to be here!

Dec 22, 2006 02:23 PM #31
Rainmaker
151,631
Harper Team
J Rockcliff Realtors - San Ramon, CA
Jeff - thanks - I love clarity!
Dec 23, 2006 08:43 AM #32
Rainer
55,577
Dawn Shaffer Life is good!
Battle Ground, WA

When I read this blog there were 32 responses and I decided not to read them, just to jump right in and answer from the heart.

NLP... neurolinguistic programming! Check it out at wikipedia. On second thought, I went to wikipedia to check it out and the definition was WAY over my head, so let me just give you the Reader's Digest:

Agents would do well to appeal to buyers from 3 angles: Visual (that'd be the virtual tour/photos), audio (some nice music and friendly-sounding audio), and feeling (that'd be the verbs Jeff is describing).

I love the way you express yourself, Jeff. "If I can't see from the photo that this is the front of the house, then I can't read the description either."

 

Dec 23, 2006 09:52 AM #33
Rainmaker
227,577
Debi Braulik
www.roundrealestate.com - Maple Valley, WA
Selling Maple Valley to Fife WA Homes For Sale
Great post. I plan to take extra care with my next listings to evoke feelings.  And I am looking forward to it!
Dec 26, 2006 12:53 PM #34
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA

Dawn... right on point.

Debi... I think you'll enjoy it more and so will your clients and potential clients. I'd love to see what you come up with if you can remember! 

Dec 26, 2006 12:56 PM #35
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Joe, my father gave me Elements Of Style when I was going off to college. (He also gave me a slide rule, but we won't talk about that) Roger Angell was not one of the contributors on that edition in 1979. It was the small paperback version. I used to read it once a year, just to keep fresh. I lost it in one of my moves and haven't replaced it, but your comment makes me want to go to Amazon.com and buy it!
Dec 27, 2006 01:51 AM #36
Rainmaker
304,539
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Better Properties Seattle - Kirkland, WA

I've always wanted to read Elements of Style and have owned it several times in my life, probably have it now.  But when I see the cover it reminds me of my brother, Chucky.  I saw that book first when I was a small child, sitting in my brother's room.

As soon as I see it I am reminded to live life as Chucky did, and reading the book itself never happens.  Chucky was dying from the time he was born from a degenerative disease.  I watched his body fail him every day for 28 years before he died.  And I watched him never whine, refuse to be treated differently, and attack the smallest of things we take for granted with obstinate vigor.

I learned a lot from that book and am reminded of the lessons every time I see it.  Even though I've never read it.

Jan 01, 2007 02:49 AM #37
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Ardell, you should read it. It will help you understand why it was on the shelf. Great, great story.
Jan 02, 2007 09:20 AM #38
Anonymous
Nancy J

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. As a consumer and soon to be seller, I applaud you all. I would love to have my home description appeal to a buyer's emotions.

To Bill Leider - you are sooooo right

Whenever you market a home on the Internet, whether on an MLS site, your own website, realtor.com, etc. you are also marketing yourself to potential new clients - both buyers and sellers.

I  have an upcoming appointment with a broker who caught my interest because of her terrific photos and enhanced listings. I just took another look at some of her listings. She does use verbs in her descriptions. She also uses every bit of text space the enhanced listing option allows and uses a professional photographer for her photos. - It works. Before seeing her online listings, I had not considered interviewing her.

I hope this feedback is useful.

Feb 10, 2007 01:45 PM #40
Rainmaker
1,200,409
Jeff Turner
RealSatisfied - Santa Clarita, CA
Nancy, thank you for taking the time to share. Your opinions and viewpoint are incredibly valuable!
Feb 10, 2007 01:57 PM #41
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