Sell more homes when you stage your marketing materials

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting
What's the purpose of a real estate flyer, a brochure, or a blog post about your new listing?


To gain attention, of course. To get that potential buyer or buyer's agent to stop, give me your attentionlook, read, and become interested enough to make an appointment to view the house.

Because more than 90% of homebuyers now start the search on line, that means your photos and your words are all-important.
First, the photos.
Naturally, you'll insist that your seller gets the house ready for the photo shoot. Even if they won't actually have the house staged, you can guide their efforts in getting the exterior ready, de-cluttering, and arranging the furniture for the best appeal.
Then you can take enough pictures – or have enough taken – to reach the maximum allowed on your MLS.
You know what they say (or at least think): If there are no photos, or only one exterior photo, there must be a reason. Most often the buyer and/or the buyer's agent will assume that there's nothing good to see. "We'll skip that one."
Next are your words.
MLS doesn't give you much room to talk about your listings, so make that description worth its space. Talk about the most compelling benefits or features the house has to offer.
It well might be something that doesn't show in the photos or fit in the little MLS boxes. It could be the way the sun comes in the kitchen window in the morning, the beautiful sunsets or sunrises, or the fact that there's an off-leash dog park two blocks away.
Do pay attention to spelling and word choices. It makes agents look pretty foolish when they write things like this sentence I saw in a MLS listing a few days ago: "New kitchen with shaker cabinets, quarts counter tops…"
I knew what they meant, but still... my mind was picturing a counter top made of quart jars. 
And unless you need every other word in the description and the program absolutely won't allow you two more spaces, don't do this:  "tile flrs."
Sure, they'll figure out what you meant, but it distracts and interrupts any warm, interested feelings they may have been developing while reading the comments.
Now for visual appeal…
In MLS you don't have any options for making things look nice. I personally think it's terrible that they don't allow you paragraph breaks in descriptions. We've come a long way from printed MLS books, so why be so stingy with space??
Thankfully, when it comes to materials you print in a flyer or post on your own website or Active Rain blog, you don't have those restrictions.
When you control the space you should definitely add more words and stage the appearance to give your presentation visual appeal.
Visual appeal will cause passers-by to pick up a flyer or brochure and actually read it. It will also cause Internet browsers to stop and look long enough to become interested in your words or photos.
By contrast, a wall of words will cause both of them to ignore your message. 
The most visually appealing pieces have:
  • Short paragraphs with white space between them. (No more than 6 or 7 lines please.)
  • A readable font in a size that doesn't make you squint. (No fancy scrolls, no 8 or 10 point fonts.)
  • Subheads and/or Bullet Points
  • Sparing use of bold and CAPS inserted for emphasis.
  • Graphics – pictures of your listing, of course!
  • Contrast between the words and the background. (Please, no light gray print on a dark gray background, and no pale yellow on white.)
  • Color – but not enough to cause mental chaos.
If you use flyer boxes at your listings…
My suggestion is to insert a small photo of the front of the house in the top corner for identification purposes. Then, to entice the reader, use larger photos of things they can't see from the street: Perhaps the deck and back yard, the fantastic kitchen, or a huge rock fireplace.
Choose anything that will make that potential buyer think "I have to see more!"  
What about buyer agent posts and brochures?
You don't have listings to promote, but you do have yourself.
Follow the same guidelines to outline your superior service in an eye-pleasing arrangement.
Then use photos of you alone, and/or you with happy clients. You can also choose graphics that convey points about your service.
This post first appeared in my weekly newsletter. It isn't always easy to come up with a new topic, so nearly every week I search Active Rain for ideas and inspiration. This week I thank my friend and expert Palm Beach County home stager Kathy Streib for the inspiration.
If you want to learn more about how to stage the homes you sell, do read her informative blog posts right here on Active Rain. And if you happen to be in Palm Beach County and need a stager, call Kathy! 
And, if you'd like your own copy of the Thursday newsletter, just click here
Graphic courtesy of stockimages at

Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl 07/21/2016 11:56 PM
  2. Jeff Dowler, CRS 07/22/2016 01:14 AM
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Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Great advice Marte.

Jul 23, 2016 05:50 AM #30
Randy Elliott
RE/MAX Gold - Lodi, CA
REALTOR : Lodi / Stockton, CA

Great info, Marte!! I am glad you added the part about spelling.  SO many agents misspell so often that it makes me wonder how they even got through school, and it makes them/us look uneducated and unprofessional.

Great tips all around! 

Jul 23, 2016 06:36 AM #31
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Excellent advice!  Flyers are like books, gotta keep 'em reading somehow.  I like the fact that you also mentioned agent flyers as not many talk about that.  Great post!

Jul 23, 2016 08:47 AM #32
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

One has to determine the price point when staging makes sense when selling a home.

Jul 23, 2016 10:28 AM #33
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

So much good information that you have shared with us Marte Cliff   and a big thanks to Jeff Dowler CRS for the reblog

Jul 23, 2016 01:26 PM #34
Ryan Huggins - Thousand Oaks, CA - Thousand Oaks, CA
Residential Real Estate and Investment Properties

Very well said!  Liked the content so much, I bookmarked it!  I think the art of writing a description and making a flyer has been lost on a lot of people.  I see a lot of the "quarts" issues in my MLS and I've ALMOST contacted the agent about it.  Heck, I had received an offer with the improper form of "Their" in it and I actually had put in the counter a correction.  Seller thought it was funny that I did that (and is a grammar correcting person as well) but had me take it out.  :(

Jul 23, 2016 01:59 PM #35
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

As Barbara Todaro would say - eye buys!

Marte Cliff - this indeed is the 'next' level of staging - after staging the home, this is what we need! (As always bookmarked this - and hope to re-post it at some time in future.)

Jul 23, 2016 03:57 PM #36
Olga Simoncelli
Veritas Prime, LLC dba Veritas Prime Real Estate - New Fairfield, CT
CONSULTANT, Real Estate Services & Risk Management

Great tips. Wish at least a fraction of agents followed some of them.

Jul 23, 2016 09:38 PM #37
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hi, Marte.  Your post is on this morning's list - Last Week's Favorites on ActiveRain: July 17th - 23rd.  Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Jul 24, 2016 12:25 AM #38
Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Realty Center - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

I can see why Patricia chose your post to highlight this week...well done!

Jul 24, 2016 12:35 AM #39
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Good morning Marte Cliff, this is a fantastic post, we can all use all the help with marketing our listings. 

Jul 24, 2016 10:38 PM #40
Rochelle Kretchmar
GenEquity Mortgage - Lewisville, TX
Simply Irresistible Staging

Great post Marte!  Realtor's have a huge opportunity to market themselves when listing homes. Love all the tips.

Jul 25, 2016 01:28 AM #41
Christi Farrington
William Raveis Real Estate - Norwalk, CT - Norwalk, CT
~ Your representative in Fairfield County, CT

Love this post Marte Cliff!  All such terrific points.  I always say, "Paint a beautiful picture of the house."  Abbreviations don't give the reader a 'warm and fuzzy' feeling and the desire to hop in the car and preview a house.

Great tips!


Jul 25, 2016 03:23 AM #42
Mike Bjork
American Pacific Mortgage - Redondo Beach, CA

Thanks for the post, Marte.  I agree whole-heartedly that you have to provide the extra attention with your Marketing pieces.  Spelling errors, bad pictures, etc.. can really hurt your business, instead of helping it.  Better to get it right, than not at all.  Many times, I try to have a second set of eyes on my pieces before I publish them.  I figured it will provide me another view on my pieces.  One of my main issues lies with too much information, rather than just enough to drive calls; or it's too technical, so I need to (as some say) dumb it down.  I guess it always comes down to that KISS method, which I have to remind myself.  Great job, and thanks again!


Jul 25, 2016 03:36 AM #43
John Wiley
Right Move Real Estate Group- EXP Realty - Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL Real Estate GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great post with some Super ideas that should give us all a boost in our marketing. Most can make improvements in their flyers and should.


Jul 25, 2016 06:38 AM #44
Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Staging our marketing materials is very important indeed.  You give a lot of great pointers here.  

Jul 25, 2016 08:21 AM #45
Corinne Guest
Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
The Choice of Professionals for Luxury Home Buying

Recently an investor of mine sold a property at 102% of asking. pricing was actually at the high end, but they waited for $8,000 of landscaping to be finished before listing. Oh snap the curb appeal was so much different and better. The renovation top notch. Under contract in 5 hours with a queue of back ups. It's all about marketing and presentation. You bet I am promoting that sale/statistic.

Jul 26, 2016 12:16 AM #46
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Marte, what a wonderfully thorough post - and you're absolutely right, MLS has improved but, some agents still don't use the minimal space to their sellers' advantage!

Jul 30, 2016 08:05 AM #47
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

Marte, this is a wonderful post for new agents and an excellent reminder for seasoned agents.  The term "mental chaos" is one I will remember. I experience "mental chaos" every time I see minimal contrast between words on a page and a light colored background.  Excessive use of bold and CAPS on a written page is a total distraction. It's like a three ring circus on a page! Oh how I hope I do not have any spelling or grammar errors! :-)



Jul 30, 2016 02:06 PM #48
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Realty ONE Group - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Henderson Homes for Sale

Hello Marte

I almost missed this post my friend, congrats on the feature and picked as one of Pat's weekly favorites and your post has been featured to the group:


Aug 02, 2016 02:59 PM #49
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