Special offer

Write more compelling property descriptions

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

You write a property description for every one of your listings, and when you're writing for MLS you're often limited to what I think are too few words. You’re also confined to one long paragraph, which stinks, but there it is.

That means you need to make every one of those words count. After all, those descriptions could be property websitesthe key to more showings and faster offers.

In some markets today, I suppose it doesn't matter, but in others, every bit of marketing matters.

So why do so many agents repeat what's in the details section – such as the number of bedrooms and baths, the size of the property, etc.?

In some cases it's because there isn't much else to say. I've been there and done that – staring at a piece of paper trying to think of just one good thing to say about a new listing. For the ugly singlewide mobile I'm thinking of I finally settled on the large, level lot. It had no trees or other vegetation to remove so was perfect for building a garage or putting in a garden.

In other cases…Perhaps it's just a matter of not taking enough time to think about the house before starting to write.

Next time, try this:

First, ask the homeowner what he or she (or they) enjoy most about the home and/or the neighborhood. They might alert you to something you haven’t noticed as a visitor.

Next, make a list of all the benefits and features that aren't included in the details section. A buyer may be searching for a bay window, a greenhouse room, or a nursery off the master bedroom. Don't make him or her personally visit every listing in town to find it.

Now make a list of the things that are included in details, but not in a way that makes them stand out. For instance, the listing details might note that a range is included, but not that it's a 6-burner Viking gas range.

Think about what this house offers that other similar homes don't offer. What does it have that would cause a buyer to choose it over another if all other features and benefits were equal?

Last, now that you've really looked at what the house has to offer, what are the one or two items that are most important?

Mention those first, and mention them in an interesting manner. Write a narrative that puts the reader in the house – not a dry list of features and benefits. Your words should paint "mind pictures" that bring that house to life.

Write more for your own blog or property web page...

Now that you have all that good information, you’ll have to pare it down for the MLS – but you don’t have to pare it down for your own website. When you blog about this new listing, use separate paragraphs so the features and benefits don’t get lost in “the wall of words” and expand on all the best points.

One more thing… Proofread!

Make sure you haven't misspelled or misused a word. Make sure you haven't used an abbreviation that confuses or misleads. Make sure you haven't added an apostrophe to form a plural.

As Gwen Banta so hilariously reminds us in her bloopers columns, failure to proofread can make an agent look stupid – or even make them look like they're writing porn. Here’s  one of my favorites.

In case you were wondering, yes I do occasionally write property descriptions for my copywriting cients who are too busy to give it the time and attention it needs. In fact, I've written the copy for whole websites about high end properties. In order to do so, I ask for all the agent's notes, plus plenty of photographs.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Comments(52)

Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

Excellent advice. Paint a picture and do not produce a work of fiction!

Apr 28, 2018 05:31 AM
Marte Cliff

So true, Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner, Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC -property descriptions are not the place for works of fiction.

Apr 28, 2018 07:31 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
Savvy + Company (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The RIGHT CHARLOTTE REALTOR!

Wonderful tips, Marte Cliff and I totally agree about the repetition too! I will say that Charlotte's MLS has finally given us a 1,000-character space in which to write our public remarks and I'm loving it!

Happy Sunday, Marte!

Apr 29, 2018 10:42 AM
Marte Cliff

Every little bit helps, Debe Maxwell, CRS - glad they're giving you more space.

Apr 29, 2018 12:08 PM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Marte,

wonderfully written post, I did see a re-blog on this post and featured to the group:

EXPRESS WITH WORDS AT ACTIVERAIN

Apr 29, 2018 11:02 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Robert Vegas Bob Swetz - I appreciate your support!

Apr 29, 2018 12:08 PM
Eva B. Liland Century 21 Doug Anderson
Century 21 Doug Anderson - Lancaster, CA
Glad to be of Service 661-714-1643

About a year ago, I couldn't beleive my eyes, another agent had copied my description, word by word for THEIR listing! Gasp... I contacted that agent right away and all he told me it was his "back office" fault, him not doing it himself. A few days later, they did their own... I let it slide, lol.

Apr 29, 2018 05:29 PM
Marte Cliff

Eva B. Liland with Century 21 Doug Anderson - That really is amazing. Was their listing exactly like yours?


It would be interesting to know if the agent was telling the truth - he hadn't done it himself. If so, I'll bet the back office person got an ear full!

Apr 29, 2018 09:22 PM
Mari Velasquez
Olympus Executive Realty - Orlando, FL
Real Estate Agent serving central Florida!

Thank you for sharing your tips!

Apr 29, 2018 05:51 PM
Marte Cliff

Thank you for reading them Mari Velasquez - and welcome to Active Rain!

Apr 29, 2018 09:22 PM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

As a journalism professor of mine used to say "write tight" and make every word count !

May 01, 2018 02:43 AM
James Grant
Asheville, NC

Hello, Thank you for your tips. 

May 01, 2018 05:55 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sally K. & David L. Hanson - Yes, many of our most famous authors talk about cutting and slashing their words before they're satisfied with the final product.

James Grant - and thank you for stopping by to read them!

May 01, 2018 11:03 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Spot on!  It's so frustrating when agents aren't creative enough to think of what others might see in a house.  Your idea of asking the seller what they like about a home is exactly what I do on listing appointments!

May 02, 2018 10:59 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Jan Green -
Who knows better than the seller, when it comes to the best thing about living in a particular house?

May 03, 2018 08:48 AM
Khash Saghafi NMLS
Liberty Home Mortgage Corporation - Cleveland, OH
Mortgage Loan Officer, Cleveland OH NMLS 1114762

Great advice Marte and a great reminder for writing anything on any platform which will be viewed by people.

May 03, 2018 07:37 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Khash Saghafi - what agents say about their listings is just as important as the photos, in my opinion.

May 03, 2018 10:21 PM
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Serving the Greater Phoenix and Scottsdale Metropolitan Area - Scottsdale, AZ
Coldwell Banker Realty

Marte Cliff "make a list of all the benefits and features that aren't included in the details section. A buyer may be searching for a bay window, a greenhouse room, or a nursery off the master bedroom. Don't make him or her personally visit every listing in town to find it."

Right on target - and - re-blog!

May 07, 2018 05:32 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

First, ask the homeowner what he or she (or they) enjoy most about the home and/or the neighborhood. They might alert you to something you haven’t noticed as a visitor.

Next, make a list of all the benefits and features that aren't included in the details section  - THANKS!!!!

May 07, 2018 05:35 AM
Sheri Sperry - MCNE®
Coldwell Banker Realty - Sedona, AZ
(928) 274-7355 ~ YOUR Solutions REALTOR®

Hi Marte Cliff - This is a well deserved feature!  I saw it on a reblog by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers .  I couldn't agree more with your assessment. I just can't believe that a listing agent can not comprehend what their job is.  The first showing is always on the MLS and you better have your best pics and material published!  

May 07, 2018 08:21 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers - I appreiate that!

Lise Howe - "Fill in the blanks" doesn't always offer space for the most interesting details.

Sheri Sperry - MCNE® - I like how you put that: "The first showing is always on the MLS." So true.

May 07, 2018 09:00 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Marte,

Great ideas. I find that fenced yards seem to be popular, so I always mention it, if it has one.

Aug 13, 2018 08:43 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Good idea Dörte Engel - If you know what the majority of people are looking for, put it front and center.

Aug 13, 2018 09:06 AM
Krista Jenkins, REALTOR®
klm Real Estate - Lubbock, TX
Residential sales and retail & office leasing

Marte Cliff, I have been guilty of repetition myself. Some houses don't have much else to stand on. 

Mar 20, 2019 05:12 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Krista Jenkins, REALTOR® I know what you mean. I recall sitting agonizing over what to say that was good about an ugly little singlewide trailer sitting on a completely bare lot in town. 

Welcome to the Rain! 

Mar 20, 2019 08:50 PM