real estate listing

How to write the perfect property listing

Writing property listings may seem easy. After all, they’re short, and if you have a decent photo what else do you need to bring buyers to the door? Well, the answer is a lot, actually.

So here’s how to write a better performing property listing.

Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes

All good writing starts with the audience in mind. Property listings are no different.

Most good real estate agents have an uncanny ability to tell you the type of person who will buy a home, even before it’s on the market.

So before you begin writing your listing, think about who is going to be buying the property – it could be a particular demographic or a few different groups. Keep these people and their needs front of mind in everything you write and focus your content on what matters to them.

For instance, if your buyer is likely to be a young professional, they’ll be interested in very different aspects of a property to a family of five. And investors look for different things than owner-occupiers. So the selling points you emphasise in your listing will be different for each audience.

Think long and hard about the headline

One of our writing heroes, copywriter and ad man, David Ogilvy, pointed out that five times more people will read your headline as what’s underneath it.

“When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar,” he wrote.

We can’t stress enough how important your headline is. Listing portals like realestate.com.au and Domain – may not carry headlines in the search results. But they are the first thing someone will read when they click on that property.

Your headline should reinforce your pictures and tell people what you want them to take from that. It should connect them emotionally, not just rationally and make them want to read on to find out more.

A good way to achieve this is to think benefits and outcomes rather than functions. For instance, a headline like “Take your family free range” connects on a deeper level than “5 bedroom home in good location” ever could.

In other words, move beyond the descriptive and get to the heart of what you’re really selling.

Continue telling the story

Have you ever followed an enticing link to an article only to find that the story was only tangentially related to the headline? If so, how did it leave you feeling? Pretty cheated, no doubt. Without substance to back it up a headline is simply clickbait. That goes for a property listing just as much as an article.

To avoid leaving your readers feeling flat and disappointed, make sure your first couple of sentences always relate to your headline and dig a little deeper into the story you’re telling. That means getting some of the key information out as soon as possible too. For instance, in our example above you could say something like:

“Looking for somewhere your family can really spread its wings? This five bedroom, three bathroom home at the end of a quiet cul de sac gives you enough space to…”

Complement the photos

It’s not simply the headline you need to match, it’s the photos too. If your words tell one story and the visuals tell another altogether, you’re sending mixed messages to the market.

Again, using our current example, if you’re talking about room to move make sure it’s reflected in the photos and that these aren’t all of the kitchen or bathrooms.

While a picture tells a thousand words, it doesn’t tell the full story – you should also use the written listing to include important selling points that the photos don’t show, things like attic storage, DAs, or internal laundries.

Build emotional engagement

Don’t just reel off information like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms without thinking about the wider context. Effective copywriting builds a unique narrative about the property and starts creating an emotional pull with a potential buyer before they’ve even walked in the front door.

Your copy needs to engage the reader, tell a story, take them on a compelling journey, highlight how this property is unique, develop a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) while still being accurate.

A good way to do this is to think about the things you would tell a prospective buyer face-to-face at an open home if you were giving them a tour. What’s the lifestyle like? And what’s in the local area?

A well-written property listing is a sales tool that builds an emotional connection with the reader, converting an Internet browser into an attendee at an open home.

Draw people to what matters

A good property listing is a relatively short one. Now that you’ve lured someone in you need to get to the point and give them all the detail that matters in as few words as possible.

Even though we buy with our hearts, it also pays to remember that there is usually a minimum ‘head’-based threshold to meet. You only need watch any property show to realise how many people are out there ticking off a spreadsheet of features. If they can’t see the information they want (number of bedrooms, car parking, built in technology, security, heating/air con, etc) they simply won’t turn up.

Generally, nothing beats bullet points for detailing this type of information in a way that’s easy to digest. So after your intro builds emotional engagement, use the bullets to list the must-have info.

Fight against cliché

The point of any advertising is to make a service or product stand out from a crowd. If you’re using the same cliches everyone else does, you’re just one of the pack.

When it comes to property descriptions, so much of what we read is cliched, or flowery. Can we have “natural light” without it being described as “abundant” or “open plan living” that’s not “spacious”?

Then there’s “lifestyle location”. Shudder.

You get the idea. Avoid cliches, and think outside the box to stand out.

The usual rules of writing apply

A property listing is a key piece of marketing and advertising collateral. It represents the selling agent, the agency, and the vendors and property you’re selling. So the usual rules of writing apply. Some basics include:

  • Don’t use slang or colloquialisms
  • Be accurate
  • Use capitals and lowercase in the right place
  • Use punctuation correctly and avoid multiple exclamation marks (!!!!!) or ellipses (………)
  • Have someone else proofread it for spelling and grammar mistakes and to make sure it makes sense.

Leave them wanting more

The whole point of a listing is to get people through the door of an open home, so they fall in love with the property. That means capturing people’s curiosity is key. Always end with something that leaves them wanting more and/or a strong call to action.
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Antelope Media writes property listings for many of Australia’s best real estate agents.

Contact us today to find out how we make your listings connect with more buyers.

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Read our thinking on real estate copywriting

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Article: Writing for real estate

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Article: Why content marketing is like a Jane Austen novel

Related services: Copywriting for real estate advertising, Real estate copywriting, Real estate content marketing.

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