First impressions are extremely important when selling yourself, selling a product, or, yes, even selling your house. People make snap judgments in that first instant that are difficult to overcome if they aren’t in your favor, so it’s imperative that you make sure your presentation is as good as it can possibly be.
When prospective buyers look at your home’s listing, one of the very first things they’ll see, along with your photos, is the listing description. In a way, the listing description is perhaps more important than the photos. In 2019, everyone knows that with the right lighting, angles, and equipment, any space can be photographed to look like a property from “Million Dollar Listing.” But a listing description can’t be faked.
It can, however, be optimized for maximum effect. Consider that 45% of buyers are less inclined to tour a home if they see spelling and grammatical errors in the listing description. To make sure your description is appealing as possible, here are five common real estate listing description mistakes to avoid.
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Don’t Overpromise or Exaggerate
We’ve all known that overly proud parent who swears all their kids are geniuses. In reality, swearing all their kids are geniuses just tells us that their kids are just average, at best. People are sensitive to hyperbole, and if you lay it on thick, they’ll just assume you’re covering up a flaw. At the very least, they’ll be highly skeptical.
By the same token, be wary of using descriptors like “mind- blowing,” “stunning,” or “immaculate.” Especially since “immaculate” just means “clean.” We already assume you’ve Swiffered the floors before opening up the place for an open house. Don’t be afraid to be moderate in your description: aim for words like “pleasant,” “attractive,” or “cozy.” It will give you more credibility and it’ll keep expectations realistic.
There’s no surer way to ruin a sale than to lead a buyer to expect a “mind- blowing, stunning, one-in-a-million gem,” and then give them a place that’s, you know, pretty nice and cozy. Especially when they would have been perfectly satisfied with a place that’s pretty nice and cozy, before you got their hopes up.
On the other hand, don’t undersell your home. Never be vague and general when you can be specific. Don’t write “stainless-steel appliances” when you can write “Miele Chef series stainless steel appliances.” Don’t write “great light” if you can write “three skylights and floor-to-ceiling south-facing windows.” Don’t say “marble counters” when you can write “travertine waterfall countertops.”
Your home has many unique qualities that prospective buyers will no doubt find appealing. If you take them for granted after all these years, try to look at the place with fresh eyes, as a buyer would, and feature them, specifically, in your listing description.
Don’t Forget to Include a Personal Narrative
A common mistake in many listings is to be too brief and impersonal. If your listing description includes more abbreviations than actual words (“LR/GR/DR, MBR w/WIC”), you’re probably not doing a very good job of selling your home.
Ideally, your listing description should read like a tour of your home, creating a highly visual narrative of what your home is actually like. Write it like you’re walking into your home; start with the entryway, and proceed to the next room, and the next.
If the great room flows into the dining room, say that. If the dining room opens onto the flagstone patio, which has great views of the sunset, say that too. The warmer and more personal of an impression you can make with your listing description, the better your chances of kindling interest in a potential buyer.
Don’t Come On Too Strong, Or Too Long
Honesty might be the best policy in real life, but that doesn’t necessarily apply to selling your home. Even if you’re eager to sell, resist the temptation to include that in the listing description; studies show that including the phrase “motivated seller” in a listing actually makes the home sell 10% slower than average.
You should also keep your listing description short-ish. According to Redfin, the length of your listing description has a major effect on how long it takes your home to sell, as well as how much it sells for. Between 50-69 words seems to be the sweet spot for most metro areas, though there are outliers.
One example: San Francisco, where an extra long description helped houses sell for 14% more than average. Just a little way north, in Sacramento, that same extra long description fetched a staggering 59% less than average. The lesson? Always check your data.
Don’t Violate the “Fair Housing” Rules
This is a very important one. The Fair Housing Act outlaws discriminatory practices against certain protected classes: race, gender, religion, color, national origin, disability, or familial status. If anything you write in your listing could be interpreted as discriminatory, you and your agent could be vulnerable to sanctions and heavy fines.
Don’t think you can tiptoe around the law by using euphemisms, either. Although there’s no public list of explicitly forbidden words, the authorities are sensitive even to phrases like “exclusive,” “country club,” “family-oriented,” and “traditional.” Work with your agent to make sure your listing description doesn’t run afoul of the law.
Clever Partner Agents are top performers in their markets, and have years of experience navigating the Fair Housing Act requirements, as well as the rest of the buying and selling process. If you’re thinking of selling your home, and need help crafting the perfect listing description, or have any other questions, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation!