When William Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre opened in 1599, its main entrance was inscribed with the Latin phrase for “the whole world is a playhouse.” Featured with the motto was a crest showing Hercules with a globe on his shoulders. Unique for their time, the motto and crest piqued the interest of Londoners and lured thousands to the Globe’s opening.
As it turns out, the Bard knew a thing or two about creating hype around a new piece of property. As in Elizabethan times, compelling visuals and headlines are often the most important part of announcing a for-sale property — or home — in the 21st century. The text describing your house (called the property description) can be just as intriguing to buyers as your home’s square footage or the school district it’s in. So how do you go about writing real estate listings that would make even Shakespeare proud? Let’s break it down.
Get to the point
To start, a well-written property listing includes a strong opening statement about your home. The first sentence should describe your house in a nutshell (“beautifully restored Cape Cod” or “perfect family home custom-built in 2010”) and then hit on the location and neighborhood. Sure, buyers can see where your home falls on the map, but describe what they may not see: “Three blocks from Smith Elementary” or “Located on the cusp of the Fourth Ward historic area.”
Concisely state the details
Next up, explain the descriptive qualities and amenities of the house: what you consider the key selling features of your home. These may include things like its architectural style, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, recently updated appliances, Carrara marble kitchen countertops , custom built-ins, ecofriendly upgrades like solar panels, an enlarged garage, etc. The more detail the better: Instead of “new floors,” go with “new bamboo floors,” otherwise you risk leaving readers wondering if it’s laminate, for instance.
It may be helpful to list overall features first (like “fresh paint throughout”) and then move through the rest of the house room by room, ending with the exterior. You can mimic this flow with the photos posted with the listing. Just don’t go overboard — there’s no reason to point out more common features like beige carpeting in the guest bedroom (unless it’s brand spanking new and pet-proof. Then maybe consider mentioning it).
It’s also important to list any key historical information that sets your home apart: Maybe your house for sale in Malibu, CA, once belonged to a celebrity? Or perhaps your Victorian house still has original gingerbread trim on the facade? Whatever makes your home unique, mention it.
Avoid confusing terms and abbreviations
Good property descriptions avoid the use of real estate jargon or code words. A phrase such as “could be a real gem” might mean the house is a fixer-upper, which would not be a good fit for someone seeking move-in ready. Some potential buyers might think “full of character” means the home has some quirks — say, a bathtub in the basement or shag carpet in the master bedroom. Also avoid using too many abbreviations that the reader will need to look up. (Like “1C-A” for “one-car attached garage.” Confusing!)
End with a call to action
Your description should conclude with the address of the property, the price of the home, and essential contact information. Keep in mind, the most effective ads are short, simple, and don’t oversell the home. They factually list details of the home without turning off buyers with corny selling phrases (“A once-in-a-lifetime property!”). Once you’ve put your quill to scroll and have mastered a good basic property description, make sure to have a friend or family member edit it.