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Turn Your Listing Descriptions into Sales

July 28 2019

Think back to 2006. You may remember hearing about the launch of a new social media platform, Twitter. You most likely didn't, because it had little fanfare.

Posts to the social media platform were dubbed "tweets" and tweeters were limited to only 140 characters.

Jack Dorsey, one of the platform's founder, claims they chose the word Twitter, because it was "perfect," defined as "a short burst of inconsequential information."

Today, tweeters are allowed to use 280 characters to tweet out their inconsequential information, but the majority use only 33 characters, according to Sarah Perez, at TechCrunch.com.

Remind you of anything?

writing laptopAs you know, each MLS has a limit on how many words (or characters) agents can use in the public-facing listing description. We attempted to determine the average word count restriction, but couldn't.

We did find a thread on an ActiveRain.com post where agents chimed in on how many words they can use: they range from 300 to a whopping 4,000 (Tallahassee).

Interestingly, most of the respondents weren't sure what the limit is. That means they've never hit it – so very Twitter-like.

Unless you write professionally, listing descriptions can be challenging to craft. But they don't have to be if you follow a few simple rules.

The anatomy of a listing description from a buyer's point of view

It's common knowledge by now that most house hunters turn to the internet for their initial search.

It's also well known that these buyers won't look at a listing that doesn't include photos (2011 ocular tracking studystudy E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate, Old Dominion University).

That particular study showed us that homebuyers overwhelmingly scan the listing photo first and spent the most amount of time doing so. They checked out the property description next.

The agent remarks (listing description) was the last item they were interested in perusing and 20 percent of the homebuyers studied didn't bother reading them.

Because of this, the researchers claim that listing descriptions are unimportant.

Did they miss the fact that 80 percent did read the listing description?

This is an important statistic for listing agents to concentrate on when writing the listing description.

Do you know which features are the most desirable for buyers?

Trends wax and wane in popularity and trying to anticipate what will be hot with the public in the coming seasons can turn into a full-time job. But, because it's so important to your success as a listing agent, paying attention to studies when they're released is a wise move.

These trends are listing description fodder. If one of your clients' homes has any in-demand feature, you'll want to lead with that.

For instance, every year the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) publishes "What Home Buyers Want."
In 2019, buyers' top five hot buttons include:

  • A dedicated laundry room (it was number one last year as well)
  • Energy-saving home features, such as appliances and windows
  • Extra storage space ("such as garage storage and walk-in pantries")
  • Hardwood floors
  • Patio

If your listing has a laundry room, beg your client to stage it, include photos of it in the MLS listing and hit it hard in the listing description.

The number one rule, however, in crafting listing descriptions is to avoid redundancy. If it's mentioned in the property description (number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc.), there's no need to mention it in the listing description as well.

Use your words... strategically

"The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter. It's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning," according to Mark Twain.

Words are powerful and can actually help sell a home.

We don't advocate outright lying in a listing description, but Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries beg to differ:

"Bottom-tier homes described as luxurious tend to beat their expected sale price by a whopping 8.2 percent."

They go on to claim that if your listing's value is "$110,000, but your listing includes the keyword 'luxurious,' you could pocket an extra $8,965."

Additional money-making words from their study include:

  • Captivating
  • Impeccable (lower-priced listings that include this word sold for nearly 6 percent more than list price)
  • Stainless (a 5 percent bonus if your low-priced listing has stainless steel appliances and you incorporate that info in the listing description)
  • Landscaped
  • Granite (no surprise here, right?)
  • Pergola
  • Remodeled
  • Beautiful
  • Spotless

Check out the rest of the list at Zillow.com. Be aware that the list is nearly four years old, so trends, such as granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, may be over. Research is your friend.

Don't be like one of the respondents in the Active Rain blog mentioned previously. He says he "Never run out of spaces if all adjetives [sic] are removed."

Adjectives, apparently, are money-makers.

Sprinkle liberally for a brilliant listing description.