After finding a real estate agent, preparing your home for sale, and staging the home, you and your real estate agent need to put together an amazing, well-written, and professional real estate listing.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the first step 42% of buyers took to purchase a home was to search for listings online. 95% of buyers used the internet to find a home at some point in their search.
If your listing photos and narrative don’t captivate home hunters searching online, you could lose these buyers forever. In fact, one study showed that listings with one photo took over double the time to sell than listings with 20 photos.
That’s why you and your real estate agent need to work together to create the best real estate listing in your area. We’ve set out to show you exactly what you and your agent need to do to knock your real estate listing out of the park.
No Smartphone Pics Allowed: Your Photos Must Be Stunning
Have you ever just browsed around online looking at gorgeous homes listed for sale, fallen in love with one, and then seriously considered buying it just because of the photos?
Now, imagine you’re actually in the market for a new home. There’s two houses on the same street, similar floor plan and price point, but they have wildly different photos. One has been meticulously staged and professionally photographed. The other is cluttered, messy, and the photos were clearly shot with a smartphone.
The choice is obvious. And, it’s backed by data. According to CBS News, homes marketed with top quality professional listing photos sell for 47% more than homes with low quality pictures. Photos can also help your home sell 32% faster.
As the above infographic illustrates, online users spent 60% of their time looking at the photos on a real estate listing page, and 20% on property details and the listing blurb. That means that if your photos don’t blow buyers away, then there’s a good chance they’ll never go see your home.
How to Get Great Listing Photos
Whatever you do, don’t take your listing photos yourself. As Kathleen Caponigro, top real estate agent in the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania, told us, “To list a property with poor pictures is like shooting yourself in the foot right out of the gate!” She also shared that, “[photos are] your hook to get people interested in the home.”
Your real estate agent should contract out your listing photos to a professional photographer who will edit and perfect every picture, or will take the photos themselves.
Though you don’t need to take the reins on this part of the project, you can ask your agent for the name of the photographer they use and take a look at their portfolio.
If your agent asks you to find a professional photographer you feel comfortable with, check sites with unbiased reviews like Yelp or Angie’s List to find top photographers near you. Once you settle on a few candidates and take a look at their portfolios, you want to look for several specific things.
Here are some key indicators of great listing photos you should look for:
- Everything in the image should be visible and bright.
For exterior shots, no part of the house should be in the shade. For interior shots, you should be able to see the view out of all windows. This should not compromise the brightness of the room. Photographers can achieve this with a layering technique during the editing process.
- The photo should make the space appear as large as possible.
Do the images all look cropped, or was a wide angle lens used? All images should be shot with a wide angle, and the room should never feel cramped (no matter how small it is in reality).
- Images should be straight.
Does it look like the photographer used a tripod in every shot? All images should be level. You’ll be able to tell if the photographer went free-hand or if they used a tripod to make every shot look composed and professional.
The order of your listing photos is important as well. According to Caponigro, the optimal order is, “The outside, of course. The entry way is generally important, especially if it’s a grand entry…and then in order of importance. Kitchen—people spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Dining room, living room, family room, then the master bedroom and the other bedrooms as well.”
Another clever way to convince a potential buyer to come see your home in person is to leave “Easter eggs”—little inside jokes or hidden messages—of home features in the listing description that are not visible in photos.
Caponigro says, “Don’t give it all away, though. Keep a little something that peaks their interest [so] that they have to come and see [the house] to see the rest.”
The Listing Description: Tips for Writing and How to Help Your Agent Perfect it
The listing description is your only opportunity to explain anything about your home that buyers can’t see in the photos. It’s a great way to: use words more likely to show up in search results, show off brand-name and high-end features like your Viking stove, mention great things about your neighborhood, and advertise unique features.
Your agent will write the listing blurb for you, but you can ask to see it before the listing gets published online. Caponigro says that she, “Often allows the homeowners to provide feedback…because sometimes they may think of something that I didn’t—not often—or if there’s something they really want added. If I don’t think it’s detrimental, I’ll certainly add it to the listing!”
How to Write a Captivating Listing Title
Some real estate agents will post your home on a website like Craigslist. These websites offer “list view,” which means that you’ll need a catchy title for your listing. Most real estate agents will do this for you as part of their marketing plan, but it never hurts to come up with some suggestions.
Unlike other marketing platforms that sort by image, a list view sorts only by the listing title. If your title is dull or very similar to other titles before and after yours, it’s less likely that prospective buyers will even click through to your listing.
That’s why you need to make your listing title catchy so they click on yours and not your neighbor’s.
One way to do that is to include power words in your listing title. We’ll write two listing titles together, one with power words and one without.
Listing Title A: Nice house for sale in SF Bay Area
Listing Title B: New: Zen Retreat With Stunning Views in Laurel Heights
Can you guess which listing title has the power words? That’s right, Listing B is a great example of what your listing title should sound like.
- We used power word “new” to grab the attention of the buyer. If a listing is new, it’s probably something she hasn’t seen before, and that creates a sense of urgency.
- We used power word “zen” to evoke tranquility and peacefulness. This power word falls in the “happiness” category, which is what every prospective buyer should feel when she finds a promising new listing.
- We used power word “stunning” to evoke a sense of grandeur and to make the buyer want to click through to see photos right away. “Stunning” falls into the “beauty” category.
Give it a try and be sure to check out this power word dictionary for help.
How to Use Buzz Words in the Listing Blurb
Buzz words or power words appeal more to buyers than other generic words like “cozy” or “cute” will because they’re specific, emotional, and they paint a picture of your home. If you’d like a few examples of well-written listings, check out these listing descriptions from a professional real estate copywriter.
Pull out that power word dictionary we just used. Use words that evoke happiness, warmth, excitement, and beauty. Don’t go overboard with this! Use just enough power words to get the idea across that your home is a unique, special spot. Remember, it’s the photos that do most of the talking.
If you want your listing to stand out in search results, you’ll want to use local keywords. That means using terms like “real estate in [your city]” or “[your city] real estate” that local home buyers will type into a search engine when they’re looking for a home.
Avoid Buzzkill Words
Throw out words like “quaint” or “cozy,” and phrases like “priced to sell.” These words have become white noise in real estate listings and don’t mean anything to prospective buyers.
Instead, be as specific as you can about your home. Even if you do have a cozy den, think about what makes it cozy.
Don’t say: The home has a cozy den off the living room.
Say: The den is the perfect space to relax with a cup of tea as the sun shines in through new Pella windows.
Other don’ts include writing in all caps. This looks cheesy and can come off as spam to potential home buyers—it cheapens the overall feeling of your listing. You should also proofread the listing blurb over and over to eliminate spelling or grammatical errors. Any errors in spelling or grammar can suggest that the real estate agent spent little time creating the listing, which will not reflect well on your home.
Top agent Caponigro told us that terms like, “this won’t last” are definite no-nos. She added that, “To me, ‘this one won’t last’ is the kiss of death! It seems that any listing that has that has 100 or more market days! I just try to avoid that.”
Keep a careful eye on special terms like “en suite,” “wrought iron fence,” etc., which could easily (and mistakenly) be listed as “on suite” or “rod iron fence.” These small errors can send buyers running for fear there’s larger mistakes or errors in the house itself.
Most seriously, your listing should never violate the Fair Housing Act. That means that it cannot discriminate in any way against people of a certain gender, race, background, color, or certain place.
Showcase Neighborhood Proximity
Throughout your listing blurb, you need to get across that your home and neighborhood is in the best location.
Walkscore is a tool you can use to help figure out what hotspots are immediately accessible to your home. The tool has a new feature called “Time Travel Map,” which shows you how far you can walk, drive, bike, or take public transit in your area within 20 minutes. It will also show you how walkable the area is, which is a plus, and popular spots nearby.
Have a favorite restaurant that’s a 5-minute walk or drive from your home? Name it in the listing blurb. This creates a listing that’s unique and personal to your home. It also tells buyers that there’s great places to wine and dine near the home, which is always a plus.
Other good things to note are: easy beach access, quick freeway access, cute coffee shops, and convenient shopping centers close to the home.
Mention Swanky Appliances and Cool Design Features
This is one of the places in your real estate listing where you can best help your real estate agent. Caponigro asks all of her clients to provide her with a “feature sheet” that outlines everything the home has to offer.
You can create a feature sheet for your real estate agent as well. Include basics like number of rooms and bathrooms, lot size, square footage, etc. Also include special features like a double car garage, wine cellar, or kitchen island, and any upgrades you’ve done.
Buyers appreciate high-end appliances in your home, so you should always name drop high-end brands.
If you have any high end kitchen appliances, windows, light fixtures, home security system, or heating/cooling system, be sure to include the name brand in the listing.
You should also list any high-end flooring and countertops in the kitchen or bathroom.
Design elements are important as well. Did a well known architect design your home? A well known designer? Be sure to drop their name in the blurb. You should also mention trendy or upscale features like French doors, a new deck in the backyard, crown molding, any built ins, a reading nook, bay windows, etc.
Just completed a major remodel? Recent upgrades are as important to your home value as they are to buyers. Make sure to add what you did and how recent. Advertise new marble or granite countertops, a refreshed bathroom, kitchen, or backyard, and any other luxury touches you added to the home.
Get Started on Your Impressive Real Estate Listing Now
Above all, make sure that the listing captures what you love most about the home. The more unique the description is and the more eye catching the photos are, the faster your home will sell.
Now let’s get to it!