Stop Trying To Look Like Everyone Else
Most of us have a lot of pre-conceived notions about what a property listing is supposed to look like. We’ve all browsed through plenty of other listings before and we subconsciously tell ourselves, “Well… I guess that’s what my listing is supposed to look like too.” If you want to learn how to write real estate ads well, the fact of the matter is you don’t need to look like everyone else. In fact… looking like everyone else is one of the worst things you can do for yourself. If you create listings that blend in with the crowd, people will ignore you. Looking “average” is one of the best ways to NOT get noticed by the masses. That being said, I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t easy to think outside the box and be original! It’s not naturally intuitive for most of us to be different/creative and that’s why so many listings are so boring and uninspiring. Don’t get me wrong, some of the well-established tactics out there do work, but most people aren’t clear on which tactics work and why. In order for me to show you how to write listings well, we need to hit the “Reset” button and start from square one.
Every Good Listing Has A Good Structure
Similar to a well-written college paper, a good listing needs to follow a certain order and have the right “flow” to it. Mine are usually laid out like this: Let’s talk about what components live inside each of these items…
When you’re posting your property on websites like Craigslist, Backpage, or eBay Classifieds, it is imperative that your listing has an eye-catching headline that looks different. Your headline is an incredibly important part of your listing because in most cases, this is literally your only shot at getting a buyer to notice you, so you’d better find a way to stand out from the crowd. Remember, you only have a split second to catch someone’s attention and engage them into clicking on your listing – so this kind of first impression is EVERYTHING… I’m not kidding! What are the positives and negatives of the property you’re trying to sell? Can you make it funny? Can you say something that will make people do a double-take? Can you make your headline stick out like a sore thumb among all the other boring listings in your market? Take a look at this listing I recently posted on Craigslist: What do you think? Does my headline look different enough to catch your attention? Does it stand out from the other headlines around it? As you can see, it’s not rocket science. You just have to use your brain for a few extra seconds. Try to be just obnoxious enough to get noticed. You don’t need to lie. You don’t need to exaggerate. You don’t need to price it at 50% of market value. You just need to get people’s attention and give them a valid reason to click on your listing. Note: It obviously doesn’t hurt to include a picture (which will be displayed as a thumbnail) and a good price point to go along with your headline.
The first sentence of my listing gets right to the point of what the real estate ad is all about. The idea is to immediately inform my readers of what they’re looking at. In this first section, you could say something like:
You’ll love this gorgeous 2-story home located just 3 blocks from Parkside Elementary in downtown Coopersville.
Come see this charming ranch with an open floor plan and breathtaking panoramic views of Cedar Springs!
As you can see – we’re simply answering the reader’s most pressing initial question (i.e. – “What am I looking at?”) and to giving them a reason to keep reading.
Narrative Description of Features
This is where the real fun begins. The idea in this section is to do two things:
1. Talk about the primary features of the property, such as:
- Number of Bedrooms/Bathrooms
- Square Footage of the Building
- Size of the Property (typically in acres)
- Garage (if any), Number of Stalls
- Extras, e.g. – Pool, Patio, Yard, Deck, Fireplace, etc.
- Any Recent Updates or Renovations, e.g. – windows, doors, appliances
- Any Unique Characteristics, e.g. – scenic overlook, basketball court, lakefront lot
Example 1 – Typical Listing:new furnace, air conditioning unit. all appliances includes. Huge deck off back of home. walk out in basement to back yard which is fenced in. Lots of updates done. 1 stall attached garage with finished breezeway.
Example 2 - Well-Written Listing:You’ll love this charming, 2-story cottage with spectacular panoramic views of Otter Lake. This 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with a 2-stall garage will give you 1,700 sq ft of generous space to move about (without losing that quaint, cozy atmosphere when it’s time to cuddle up by the fireplace with a good book). Wake up each morning to awe-inspiring sunrises in the East and drift off to sleep each night with the tranquil sounds of nature. Situated in a friendly community with an award-winning school system on the outskirts of Allegan County, just thirty minutes from the magnificent City of Grand Ledge.
As you can probably see – these two examples were not created equal. It takes real effort to be creative and think of descriptive words that will actually make your property sound appealing. Most people don’t have the patience (or they just don’t care enough) to go the extra mile in this area, but putting forth this extra effort can make a HUGE difference in the way your most ideal buyers (aka – the ones who will pay you top dollar) perceive your property. Some people will find that they excel in this area pretty naturally. Others will find that it’s a major struggle. I realize, not everyone is gifted with the ability to find words that create amazing mental imagery like this. If you fall into this camp, don’t worry. At the bottom of this blog post, you’ll have a chance to get your hands on a TON of my marketing materials that will make this whole process a lot easier for you… so keep reading.
Special Promotion: This item won’t always apply to your listing – but if (for whatever reason) your goal is to get a property sold FAST, this is your opportunity to give your readers that little extra “nudge” towards taking action. I always try to envision the typical buyer who is looking at my listing. They’re highly interested, but they need that extra little bump to pick up the phone and call me. Some examples of a “special promotion” could be any of the following:
- Offering Seller Financing on the property
- For a limited time, offering to pay for 100% of the buyer’s closing costs
- Offering to sell the property in the form of a lease purchase or rent-to-own
- For a limited time, offering a small discount from the listed price
Please note that this property is also available to purchase with optional Seller Financing. For a small down payment and monthly installments of approx $___, you can own this property WITHOUT talking to a bank!
Closing Statement & Call To Action
This is where you wrap it up and tell your readers what to do. Don’t be afraid to ratchet up the sense of urgency and remind them of the very real possibility that this is the last chance they’ll ever have to buy this property.
Here’s an example:This property is only available to the buyer who acts NOW. Stop reading and start calling: ***-***-****
Why are you still reading this?? CALL NOW!
There is a fine line between painting a positive word picture about your property and overselling/hyping your property. I know – I’m telling you to show off how great your property is and when you do this, it’s understandably tempting to overstate the “greatness” of it. The fact is, most people know B.S. when they see it. If you come blasting out of the gate with claims about your property that are clearly embellished or just outright false, you’re not going to fool anyone. At best, you’ll seriously tarnish your reputation in your market and you might even create some new enemies along the way – so don’t go there. The trick to selling is not to “trick” anyone. The goal is to be very clear about why your property is an amazing opportunity and if it’s communicated the right way (and if your asking price is in-line), you can help a lot of people “connect-the-dots” and realize that your property is exactly what they need. The most successful sales people know how to convey this information seamlessly and effectively, all while catering to the emotional needs of their buyers. Don’t oversell it. Don’t make it into something it’s not. Just describe your property and it’s features in a way that will help buyers see the greatness of it. Help them to picture themselves in your property and come to the conclusion that it’s the best decision they can make.
by SETH WILLIAMS