The Homeowner’s Guide to Writing Property Descriptions

As our world becomes more visually oriented, high-quality photos have become the most important marketing tool to attract buyers in real estate. Beautiful photos not only create intrigue, but they also show potential buyers the most important aspects of the property, including its scale, condition and views. Once buyers’ curiosity is piqued, they’ll often read the fine print — and a property’s written description should complement the photos. A great property description can help to get those showings and ultimately make a deal.

[READ: Why You Should (and Shouldn’t) Sell Your Home in 2022.]

Property Descriptions Should Tell a Story

A buyer’s next home is likely part of an aspirational life plan, so a listing description should play into that. It should sell the idea of what life could be like on the perfect day in this home. Quality listing descriptions should tell a story, but in the process, convey important information, highlight the best qualities of the home and ideally, answer anticipated questions.

When writing a property description, you want to engage the reader immediately. “The first line is the hook,” says Ricardo Rodriguez, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Boston. “What is the property about? What’s the headline? It’s important to set the tone for the story you’re telling.” Weave attributes about the property into the description’s opening sentence, such as its expansive views of the water or a park, a desirable location or a state-of-the-art renovation.

“We highlight the property’s most important features at the outset,” says Hillary Hertzberg Benson, a Realtor with The Jills Zeder Group at Coldwell Banker in Miami Beach. “We pair these with phrases or sentences to create a moment that illustrates a lifestyle, such as ‘Enjoy breathtaking sunsets overlooking Biscayne Bay while dining al fresco on your private terrace.’ The reader is already drawn in, imagining what life might be like in this house or apartment.”

Less Is More

Be sure to consider the likely limited attention span of the reader. “Overall, we’ve found that less is more,” says Hertzberg Benson. “People don’t have the bandwidth, patience or desire to sit and read a verbose description of a property. We used to include longer paragraphs peppered with flowery language, but we’ve been focusing on tightening our copy, emphasizing the property’s differentiating features, while pairing the descriptions with exceptional photos.”

“There’s a bit of an art to writing listing descriptions, because you can entice a buyer while simultaneously conveying important information,” says Miami Realtor Felise Eber of The Jills Zeder Group at Coldwell Banker. “If we write something like ‘Wake up to a picturesque sunrise before walking directly out to your own Shangri-La Garden,’ not only have we created an idyllic mood, but I’ve now told you that the bedroom gets great morning light and has direct accessibility to the outside elements. We don’t falsely embellish, but if a property is unique or truly special, potential buyers need to know this.”

Once the tone is created, a description is an opportunity to walk a reader through the home. “After you start with the macro elements, you can get more granular, but it shouldn’t be a laundry list that creates work for the reader,” says Rodriguez. “A description is part of a larger story you’re telling, and it should complement and be consistent with the rest of your marketing. You’re defining the ethos of the property.”

[READ: 12 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home.]

Areas to Focus On

Although the write-up should not delve into the make and model of every doorknob, the kitchen and bathrooms are important areas to detail. Anyone who has taken on a renovation knows that these are the most expensive rooms in the house. If your kitchen appliances or bathroom fixtures are from high-end brands, let potential buyers know. If the tiles are made from a rare, imported material, this will likely be appealing to a discerning potential buyer.

Another note to keep in mind is anticipating who the target buyer might be, and then loosely tailoring the description to what they might want in a home. For example, today’s buyers might be more health-conscious, tech-savvy or sensitive to the environment than in previous eras. Today’s property description might touch upon these ideals when appropriate, since, as Hertzberg Benson notes, “having a ‘smart home‘ or a ‘green home‘ is increasingly important to this crop of homebuyers.”

“Today’s buyer is also more health-conscious,” says Eber. “So if a house or condo has a private gym or spa-like bathrooms, these are features we want to highlight in the copy.”

As interests and lifestyles shift and evolve, so should property descriptions. “Health and technology are front and center,” says Rodriguez. “So if a home comes with an air purification system or electric vehicle charging station, not only might this be important to our target buyer, but it also signifies that the property’s gestalt is new and now. It’s not just about where you live, but how you live.”

Active buyers in today’s market will likely see descriptions of home offices touted whenever possible, since working from home has become the norm. People are spending more time at home than ever in recent memory, and they are also utilizing space differently than they once did. “A detached guest suite, for example, has become a bigger selling point than ever, since it can be used as a separate home office, even if it wasn’t originally built that way,” says Hertzberg Benson.

[See: The 25 Most Desirable Places to Live in the U.S.]

Focus on a Home’s Strengths

If a newly renovated home is on a beautiful block with scenic views and has a floorplan that easily lends itself to the demands of contemporary living, the toughest part about writing its description might be choosing which selling features to list most prominently. But as any buyer or seller knows, most homes for sale are far from perfect, especially those in need of rehab. In these instances, it’s important to still find the property’s strengths and stress them.

“If, for example, a house isn’t fantastic, we accentuate its potential,” says Eber. “Maybe the bones are great, or the lot size is particularly big for the neighborhood. A little imagination goes a long way, and a creative property description can point out the potential that even great photos won’t show.”

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The Homeowner’s Guide to Writing Property Descriptions originally appeared on usnews.com

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