What’s All The Excitement About?
I think it’s time for a revolution. No, no…not that kind of revolution. Rest assured, there’s no impending civil uprising. I’m talking about leading a Real Estate Writing Revolution. That’s right. But why would that kind of revolution even be necessary?
Well, I’ve done some research on how property descriptions are presented. And I’m saddened to report there does not appear to be much excitement or inspiration for the homebuyer given the the way a home is described in MLS listings (for example).
Consider this. Buying and selling a home is a significant life event, filled with high levels of emotion, not to mention the associated price tag. Why is it however that homebuyers get no emotional satisfaction while searching on-line listings for the home of their dreams?
They’re waiting for that “aha moment” when after reading a description they can exclaim, “Wow. This is it. This is what we’ve been looking for. I have to see this home. Honey, let’s call the realtor right away and schedule a visit”.
Most on-line shoppers make purchases based on the descriptions they read. And the higher the price, the more detailed and benefit-laden the description warrants. It helps the buyer make and informed an educated decision. So given the significance of a home purchase, it would be natural to expect the homebuyer to have similar information at his/her disposal.
But that’s not the case for the majority of (MLS) home sales listings. And that makes it harder for homebuyers to find exactly what they’re looking for to suit their lifestyle and the specific ideas they have about what makes the perfect home in their situation.
So why isn’t this MLS description space used to the buyers’ advantage…to tell buyers how they will benefit from and can take advantage of all the home’s amenities? It’s impossible to build any sort of emotional attraction or affinity from a list of features let alone make a life decision. It’s like reading a boring menu.
The Real Estate Writing Revolution Rib Test
Look at this way. If you were looking for the best, tastiest and most succulent ribs in town using an on-line menu before making a decision on where to go, how much influence would a description affect which item or restaurant you’d choose?
Let’s see which of these two rib dinners entices you…
Bourbon Ribs (Secret Recipe Sauce) $39.95
Your mouth-watering plate includes
-10oz or 16oz of Mouth-watering Bourbon House Ribs
-Baked Potato (with your choice of sour cream, butter or garlic butter) and
– Grilled, Seasoned Asparagus
Bourbon House Ribs and Tantalizing Accompaniments $45.95
– Choose from 10oz or 16oz of Slow-cooked, Mouth-Watering Bourbon House Ribs
Your scrumptious dinner also includes
– Cut and Fluffed Baked Potato
– Grilled and Herbed Asparagus Spears
Imagine the flavor explosion…
- Our secret Bourbon and Smoke rib sauce delivers the sumptuous combination of sweet and smoky flavour to satisfy your discerning taste buds. Ribs are slowly and lovingly cooked for 8 lip-smacking hours, as they’re glazed with our chef’s utmost attention…to the point just before they fall off the bone. And that’s where our involvement ends, cause we want you to savour the delectable fall-off-the-bone experience yourself.
- Served with our signature Cut and Fluffed Baked Potato – Your Idaho potato is sliced open to delicately extract the flesh, then whipped into a frenzy as light as a cloud. Choose from (local sourced dairy) sour cream or whipped butter, or mellow garlic butter to complement the melt-in-your-mouth taste.
- Asparagus spears grilled to perfect texture, lightly brushed with the purest olive oil and the right blend of herbs and spices to enhance their flavour and your experience.
So which of these two menu items would have you heading for the restaurant? And would the higher price on the second selection be a factor if you’ve just found the ribs of your dreams, that fit your criteria for the best, tastiest and most succulent ribs in town – based on the description.? Don’t you have a hankerin’ for a plate of ribs now?
What About the Research?
I looked at 100 MLS listings (from www.realtor.ca and www.realtor.com) in four major market cities (Ottawa, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Colorado Springs, Colorado) for homes priced in the range of $400K and up.
I looked at how homes were presented in writing to see if there was much difference between the descriptions from home to home. I also wanted to see if there were enticing details to enable buyers to make informed decisions on the biggest purchase of their lives.
I noted that 80% of the listing descriptions were a basic repetition of the list of features, which can be found further down the listing under Details, Rooms, etc. by the way. Therefore, my question is: Is a list of features enough to get their attention and elicit enough curiosity to call for a viewing? Let’s find out.
To reinforce the idea that a real estate writing revolution is warranted, I also talked to a few homebuyers. I wanted to learn whether or not they are more apt to call for a visit or showing when they have information and details to create a better emotional connection and visual of the home.
When shown a home description that mimicked a list of features (Description No. 1), compared to one that provided a narrative (Description No. 2), enabling them to envision themselves living in the home and taking advantage of all it had to offer, here’s what they had to say:
Aimee Kunau of Cincinnati, Ohio – in search of a new home, has this to say:
The second description is more attractive to me as a homebuyer in that it allows me to picture myself enjoying the property before even seeing it. I would definitely want to schedule a showing as soon as possible to see all the wonderful amenities for myself.
Carla McKechnie-MacDonald of Chateauguay, Quebec – recent new-homebuyer has this to say:
I think the enhanced narrative helps the potential buyer envision not only the home, but the lifestyle too. Thinking back on all the descriptions I read while “house hunting “, one thing was clear. The agent made no real effort to say anything that was unique. It was all very basic and almost every one of them ended with ” a real gem ” or ” act fast “.
… I would look to see if there were any of the criteria I was looking for… With an enhanced description it gives you the ability to be able to get the big picture, which is very important…
Let The Revolution Begin
Following these findings, I believe it’s time to lead a real estate writing revolution. To heck with cut and pasted features! Tell a story. Entice the buyer with a vision of what their new lifestyle can be like, since not many other realtors do.
Just changing things up in this manner is enough to get you noticed because only 20% of the on-line MLS listings reflect any kind of a real estate writing revolution.
And if you’re having trouble figuring out who should lead your revolution, that’s where a professional writer like me – who specializes in property descriptions – comes in. Take the first shot in your revolution with your MLS listings because that’s where 90% of buyers are looking (on-line) for the home of their dreams. And for higher priced, or luxury homes, incorporate full-length, story-like descriptions in your website listing, colour brochures and feature sheets.
Captivate and wow the buyers. Attract more attention. Get more calls. It’s a revolution that doesn’t bring any pain or bloodshed to anyone. All it takes is real estate writing supremacy.
And I’ll be happy to help you lead your own real estate writing revolution just as soon as I get back from the restaurant. After writing this, I think it’s time for a rib revolution too.
Your comments and questions are welcome below. And to discuss how I might help you with your real estate narratives and enticing descriptions, connect with me here. You’ll be up and running in no time. And in the meantime, vive la révolution!