how to write a home listing

Edit your home’s listing to include these tips, and you may notice more interested buyers visiting your page.

Making your listing the most attractive option to potential buyers can be the only thing standing between a quick closing and a house that lingers too long on the market. Even in seller’s markets like New York, NY, and San Francisco, CA, the competition is clamoring to attract the increasingly discerning buyer. To keep on top of the competition — by staying at the top of search results — we’ve collected 10 tips that real estate professionals say really attract potential buyers.

Be specific

Descriptive words entice search engines as much as they entice potential buyers. Erin Pastrana of Corcoran Group Real Estate in Brooklyn, NY, recommends specifying “granite” or “marble” when referencing countertops. For fireplaces, be sure to add “wood-burning.” Instead of simply “hardwood floors,” include that they are “Brazilian walnut.” Have an updated kitchen? Tack on “gourmet” to give buyers an idea of the magic they can cook up. Your listing will stand out to those looking for that extra something special.

Your go-to secret word to sell your home’s kitchen: gourmet.

Be upfront

It never hurts to be as upfront as possible. Potential buyers do not want to dig through a listing to find out what neighborhood it’s in, or whether it’s a condo or a co-op. Front-load your listing with the vital information. Include “single-family home,” “attached,” or “semi-attached.” State the neighborhood and, more specifically, include the street address in the first paragraph. Insider tip: Search engines like to see the address in the last paragraph as well, so be sure to bookend your listing with this important piece of information.

Don’t keep your street address a secret. Include it in the first paragraph, and bookend your listing with it too.

Use proper grammar

It may seem like a no-brainer, but spell check is your friend. A homebuyer skimming a listing may forgive an occasional misspelled word or misplaced modifier, but Google will not. Search engines have become so advanced that they have learned to favor descriptions with correct grammar and punctuation. And whatever you do, DON’T USE ALL CAPS. The search engine will mark your listing as spam, and your buyers will think you’re yelling at them.

It’s Carrara marble (not Cararra or Carrera). This secret is simple: Use spell check.

Highlight major new improvements

A hot phrase that sellers can use to really catch a buyer’s eye is “move-in ready.” This signals to potential buyers that some of the larger (and more costly) renovations have been taken care of. If you can afford it, update your kitchen and bathrooms and then highlight these upgrades in the listing with terms like “updated master bathroom” or “new cabinets.” If a buyer can avoid some costly updates, they’ll be keener to take the plunge.

If you’re leaving your home in pristine shape, catch buyers’ eyes with “move-in ready.”

Think toward the future

Cellars no longer carry the stigma of the moldy storage space of yesteryear. Mike Putnam of Keller Williams Fairview Gateway in Virginia finds a lot of buyers care about the ability to expand their household and are looking for that extra space. Maybe they anticipate a teenager wanting a bit of autonomy or plan to rent out the basement to help with the mortgage. For a finished basement, Putnam recommends describing it as a “huge lower-level rec room” or including the terms “full bath” and “walk-out” to emphasize its privacy and live-in potential.

Secret #HomeSale tip: Give your basement a descriptive upgrade with the phrase “lower-level rec room.”

Mention neighborhood spots

Want to find out exactly what people are looking for in your neighborhood? Google Keyword Planner is a tool that advertisers normally use, but it can help you generate content for your listing. “It’s great for gathering information to understand how people are searching for properties as it generates a list of keywords related to your address or a particular neighborhood,” says Jamie Karl, senior marketing manager of Corcoran Real Estate Group. Incorporate these keywords into your listing description, which can help your property rank higher in search engine results.

Your street address is a secret search engine decoder. Plug it in to Google Keyword Planner and incorporate the suggested nearby attractions.

Let in the light

George Morgan of @properties in Chicago, IL, is all too familiar with infamous Chicago winters. To beat the seasonal blues, his buyers are especially keen on “natural light,” he finds. But not just any natural light will do. Buyers are looking for “south-facing windows” that will bring in a steady dose of natural light throughout the day. During a Chicago winter, sunshine is as good as gold.

#ProTip: “Natural light” and “south-facing windows” are two phrases some buyers can’t resist.

Highlight any sort of privacy

Just because some homeowners choose to live in a city doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate a respite from the hustle and bustle. Morgan notes that many of his Chicago buyers like the idea of not feeling like they are in an urban environment. He recommends highlighting any privacy. The term “tree-lined” is a great indicator for a quiet neighborhood street where busy traffic is out of earshot, and “top floor” means no upstairs neighbors stomping. Peace and quiet indeed.

And for country dwellers whose closest neighbor happens to be a family of chipmunks, Mike Putnam says the terms “backs to woods” or “backs to trees” are great indicators of a private and secluded backyard.

Sell your neighborhood to buyers with #SecretWords like “tree-lined,” which indicates a quiet neighborhood street.

Consider open spaces

City and country dwellers alike crave wide open spaces. Both Morgan and Putnam recommend the term “open floor plan.” This popular layout combines the kitchen with the adjacent living spaces into a single large gathering space — perfect for entertaining guests or simply increasing daily interaction.

Looking for a #SecretWord that all buyers crave? “Open floor plan.”

Is it one of a kind?

A custom-tailored suit sounds more appealing than a generic one off the rack, and the same applies to home amenities. Putnam says that people love to see the word “custom” in a home listing. Whether it’s custom tile flooring or a custom deck, buyers will appreciate knowing these aspects of the home are unique and specifically designed for the space.

Let buyers know that you put work into your home by using this #SecretWord: “custom.”

A final piece of advice: It’s OK to run with the pack. Erin Pastrana recommends checking out your competitor’s listings to see what key search terms they’re including. Remember, you want to come up in search results alongside your competitor, not as an outlier. If you notice your listing falling behind or not showing up in searches, try republishing the listing to give the search engines a nod that it’s still active. And remember that listings can take a few days to show up in results, so check back often to make sure you’re still in the game.

How have you incorporated secret keywords into your home’s listing? Share your tips for how to write a home listing in the comments!