Real Estate Listings Written Well

How the language you use to describe a home affects the sale price:

The success or failure of a listing can be attributed on some level to how well you use language and other forms of communication to communicate its virtues, frame its flaws, and deliver the message that gets the sale done at the right price. Let’s define success, because I think there may be a few variations of it floating around right now.

Success is completing the sale of a home for a seller, at a price that makes them satisfied, not like they took a low ball offer. That leads to a positive view of your performance and in all likelihood the best chance at a repeat customer and one that will recommend you to others. That is the success I am writing about here.

Unless the next home you sell is the last home you want to sell, you need to have a higher threshold for success than simply a closing. One tool that you need to use is right at your fingertips, in fact its not some new technology, its the description you write for your listing. Yes, the words and phrases you choose have an immense impact.

I am asking more of you in this department, but only because you want to be the best.

Flipping through listings, I am flabbergasted at the mediocre to negligent descriptions for homes that some realtors list for sale. It is as if the descriptions are an after thought:

Nice two family, good street. Income potential.

If I ask why they would write that, I hear all the lame excuses.

“Oh yeah that is a REO sale, there is no owner client, it’s a bank.”

Just so I don’t hurt anyones feelings face to face, this is the deal. That is a bullshit answer, a cop out, and the only one you are fooling is yourself. This is your career, not the Bank’s and it is your time to be professional, and that means put your best foot forward, treat each home like it is your mother’s pride and joy, and take the time to do the right thing. Do you have to be perfect? No, but you have to do the best for your client whether they are a ginormous bank or a family member. One more time, this is your reputation, and your career.

It matters because people look through listings to see where their house measures up BEFORE they call an agent and before they list their home. When they see an agent’s half ass listings are they the one getting a call? Yeah you got it, no they are not.

Those of you who didn’t get uncomfortable and click away, here is what I mean:

Learn the reasons why certain words, phrases, and descriptions work, and use those things. Then get creative when you have a property that needs help. You might feel at a loss sometimes when you have a property that has issues, but knowing which issues are killers and which ones just need to be framed right can help you craft the right description and help you make the deal you need to make.

Don’t just listen to Me:

  1. A study by Trulia, (of 2.5 million listings) has shown that the type of street name a home has affects the sales price. Boulevard has the highest price per square foot and street the lowest. Once you know that, you prominently mention the address for homes on a Boulevard and much less prominently mention those on a street. In other words you need to know what to flaunt.
  2. Another study has shown that homes with country in the listing sold for 4.2% more with an additional 5.1% added when the word club was added. Here is a link to that study.
  3. Here is another study that says words such as beautiful in the listing can add up to 12.5% to the listing. WORDS
  4. Finally here is a great article about this subject that can cement the following facts for you: Houses that real-estate agents describe as “move-in condition” sell 12% faster than homes listed without those words. “Starter homes” sell 9% faster. But be careful: A house called a “handyman special” sells about 50% faster, but the final price is 30% lower than listings that lack those words. WSJ ARTICLE

I Hope that gets you believing… Here is what I suggest for you.

Understand the common theme in these studies and articles: The words you choose matter.

I believe that the bottom line is the best descriptions have the following attributes:

  • They highlight verifiable, non-subjective, qualities of the property being sold.
  • They use language that relates to the property which a buyer would be interested in, ‘sophisticated black granite and enamel cabinets’ as opposed to a ‘futuristic looking kitchen’ or even worse a ‘new kitchen’
  • They are honest in what they say, and precise in what they do not.

All in all the work you do as a seller’s agent must be designed to achieve the success you want. That success is two fold:

  1. For each particular home you want to be a positive force driving the home to an early sale at a price as high as can be reasonably expected.
  2. You want your communications, in the description and elsewhere to inspire others to sell with you, past clients to come back, and current clients to recommend you.

In short what you put out there, is a product and representative of your skill as a realtor, and anything less than your best is selling your client, and just as importantly yourself, short. It is time to make a concerted effort to focus on the language you use when listing the properties you have been contracted to sell.


Please Find me on Twitter at I love to talk about people’s business and give them a fresh perspective on the way their business communicates so please say hi.

My Next Real Estate Post will be on creating a relationship with potential clients with video.