I have been listing and showing homes for over 18 years north and northwest of Boston Massachusetts. Over the course of those 18 years, I have had many sellers try to make their home into something it is not thru their real estate description on their home’s listing. Sellers will often want to over exaggerate on descriptions.
Other times an overzealous agent will puff the description to try and give your home the appeal that isn’t there. We have all seen those too good to be true, over the top real estate listings.
While painting a rosy picture of your home sounds like a good idea it can back fire on you if it is not accurate.
Ultimately you will probably market your home to the wrong buyer. The key is to market your home, is to market it to the right buyer.
Your Real Estate Description
Let’s think about how a homebuyer views a listing. The very first thing they do is peruse the photos. If your real estate photos pass a home buyers muster, they than turn to the listed real estate description of your home
Your real estate description will include line items stats like room count, square footage, tax info acreage, etc…. As well as 500 to 1000 words pointing out some of the better features of your home.
Your homes real estate description a home sellers and their listing agents chance to point out some great features of the home that might not be obvious anywhere else in the listing. The custom description is the opportunity to tell potential home buyers about a great location, exceptional condition, new upgrades and more.
Your Real Estate Description Should Not Make Your House Something It Is Not
Of course you want your house to look good and so does your agent. Be careful not to exaggerate the details of your home.
Over embellishing your real estate description can certainly back fire on you. The danger is your real estate description attracts the absolute wrong buyer for your home.
What are common areas an agent or seller will exaggerate a homes appeal?
Square Footage- Square footage plays a large role in a homes pricing potential. So in many cases more square footage means a higher price. Often square footage will be exaggerated by adding below grade living area and unheated areas. For example, a small 1600 square foot colonial with a finished basement could have over 2200 square feet of finished space. But a 1600 square foot colonial is going to function very different than a colonial that has 2200 sq feet of above grade finished space. It is over 30% larger and on top of it there still is the basement space that is or can be finished. Accurately state your home’s true square footage.
Bedroom Count- Bedrooms are worth more money and sellers want to make unused rooms into bedrooms. Similar homes with 4 bedrooms are generally worth more than homes with 3 bedrooms. But when writing your real estate description be accurate about what is truly a bedroom. A bedroom in a basement with no egress, windows and or a closet is not truly a bedroom.
Condition- Buyers are certainly interested in homes that are in great shape. But it is not uncommon for me to bring a buyer into a home that it’s been presented as being in great shape to find it needs a good amount of work just in deferred repairs.
Recent Renovations- A kitchen renovated 15 years ago is not a recent renovation. Nor is a roof that was replaced 15 years ago a new roof. When I see recent or newer renovation or replacement I assume the last 3 years. Quite frankly a kitchen renovated 15 years ago can already be pretty outdated even if it is in great shape. Or a roof replaced 15 years ago could have a very short life left to it.
Descriptions- Quiet, spacious, private, etc… are all very subjective terms. And, often will be misused to try and compel a buyer. Don’t make a statement unless it is obviously true. Most likely a home on a 6000 square foot lot surrounded by homes on similar lots are not private. Or a home, backing up to a highway ramp is not quiet. Be careful when using very subjective descriptors in your real estate description. Make sure they are 100% true.
Attracting The Wrong Buyers With Your Real Estate Listings
As I mentioned earlier the danger in over embellishing your real estate descriptions is you could will attract the wrong buyers.
There are certain buyers who have minimum criteria. They may want a house over 2000 square feet and 1600 is not going to cut it.
A buyer may want 4 bedrooms but not with 2 of them being a fire hazard in the basement with no 2nd egress.
Or a buyer wants a home in great shape with a modern kitchen and won’t accept anything less.
If your real estate listing description caters to the wrong buyers, your house wont get sold. As a matter of fact many buyers will be upset they wasted their time to view your home if it is not what the description states.
The other danger of over embellishing your listing is you could be overpricing your home. I would be hard pressed to use a 2200 square foot home as a comparable home to price a 1600 square foot home nor would I use a 4 bedroom home to price a 2 bedroom home.
Your Home Is What It Is
When it comes to the stats on your home it is what it is, period. In most cases there really isn’t a grey area. A 1600 square foot home colonial with a finished basement is just that…. a 1600 square foot colonial. Or a 2 bedroom ranch is a 2 bedroom ranch.
The good news, is just about every home has a buyer.
There are buyers that would buy a 2 bedroom ranch with a potential “guest room” in the basement. Or buy a home that needs a lot of cosmetics so they can finish it the way they want.
Write your real estate listings to market your home to the right buyers, don’t make it something it isn’t.
Writing Good Real Estate Descriptions For Your Listing
Remember you have already called out many of the stats of the home…. 3 bedroom, 2 bath etc….
The verbal description is not the place to repeat information that is already available to the home buyer. Use the real estate description to call out the features of the home that are not obvious somewhere else in the listing.
Call Out Best Qualities Of The Home
I recommend starting out with the best feature of the home. What feature is going to draw a lot of attention. Start with your homes best feature in the first sentence. Is it a desirable neighborhood, is it location, is it a desirable school district, has the house been newly renovated? What feature is going to appeal most to the broadest amount of buyers.
The real estate description is also the place to call out new renovations or repairs. New roof, new furnace, new windows, new siding, new kitchen rehab, new bathroom remodel, etc…. All of these items are big ticket items that cost many of thousands of dollars if not tens of thousands of dollars.
Consider highlighting outdoor living areas. Are there decks, patios or a pool? Is the lot large and level are their sprinklers or is it professionally landscaped?
Maybe there is easily tapped into potential to expand into an attic or a basement. Or maybe the potential to add an in-law or aupair suite easily. Your real estate description is a great place to make buyers aware of that potential.
Your real estate description is also a way to feature your homes great location. Maybe there is something unique to your part of a town, maybe the school district is desirable or maybe its an excellent commuting location. Is there something about your homes location that will attract certain buyers?
Play To Your Target Buyers
When listing your home try to identify your target buyers. Assess what type of buyer(s) will be interested in my home. And write your descriptions to attract your target buyers. There are all types of buyer but lets look at a few.
- Luxury Buyers- They want unique finishes, upscale materials and appliances and all the modern conveniences. Money is less important than the image the home projects.
- First Time Home Buyers- Often the first time home buyer is looking for affordability. They are just trying to get into their first home. They are trying to get the most for their money.
- Move Up Buyers- Often move up buyers are looking to establish roots for their family. There family is growing they want neighborhood settings, they want finished basements, they want yards and space.
- Downsizers- They are looking to simplify. They want less work maintaining a property. But typically they have some money to spend. They want a smaller property, with a smaller yard but generally they want it in perfect shape. Most downsizers have been down the road of renovating and fixing they are done.
- Handymen- They want homes that need varying degrees of work for one of several reasons. One they want to build instant equity by improving the home. Or, two they want to fix a home up exactly the way they like it.
These are just a few common types of buyers that are out there. The point is write your description for the buyers who are most likely to be attracted to your home and will be willing to buy your home.
As an example, I recently had a small, lower priced home for sale. It was in need of updating, had some function issues and in need of some basic repairs. The sellers were insistent I market to the over 55 downsizing buyers. But, while downsizers are looking for smaller homes they do expect certain amenities and condition and usually have the money to spend after selling their large home.
Eventually, I did convince the seller we should not ignore the downsizer, but their home was truly for a first time home buyer willing to roll up their sleeves.
Don’t Be Afraid To Talk About The Condition
Not every home is in perfect shape. Many need varying degrees of work. Don’t be afraid to talk about what your home may need for immediate repairs in your descriptions. Some buyers are looking for homes that need work.
Call out big ticket items that absolutely need repair, or if it is decor is very dated let the buyers know.
For example, I had an estate property. Every corner of the house screamed 1940’s and the electrical was subpar. But put that aside, the house was priced accordingly, it had a great yard and it was a solid house. In the description I called out that the home was in need of updating and most of the property was original, alongside some of the great features of the home.
It did not hinder the sale. What it did was highlight the property to the right buyer.
The right buyer was one looking for an affordable property who wasn’t afraid to do some work to build equity. Most likely a first time home buyer who has the skills to do some or all of the work themselves.
Because, I did call out the house as needing serious cosmetics every buyer came through the door knowing exactly what to expect. There were no disappointment from the buyers.
Be Very Careful With Subjective Language
Try to stick to facts and avoid descriptive adjectives that are stretching the truth. Come on we have all seen those listings….
Words like beautiful, luxurious, extravagant, spacious, quiet, charming, quaint, private, adorable, secluded can be very subjective.
Hell, even newer is subjective. What does newer even mean. The last three years? The last 5?
Using descriptive language is certainly fine and even encouraged for your real estate description but carefully cull out descriptive language that embellishes the reality of what is really present.
A home that is a half mile in the woods is certainly private, where a home that has 5 house looking at it from all sides is not.
There is usually nothing spacious about a 11×12 living room, where a 24×24 living room with a cathedral ceiling is.
A chef’s kitchen is not a kitchen that is recently remodeled. It is a kitchen that has professional grade appliances and amenities.
One cherry tree in the front yard does not make for professional landscaping, where a beautifully maintained yard with spotless garden beds would fit the bill.
I had one seller wanting me to list their very expensive 22 year old kitchen remodel as new! On top of it, the highly stylized remodel, while in perfect shape was severely outdate.
Does the description match what a buyer will really find when they get there?
Summary Of Your Real Estate Description
When it comes time to list your home, your real estate description plays a large role in marketing your home. Overly embellished listing descriptions will have a tendency to attract the wrong buyers making for very ling tedious process in selling.
Be accurate and truthful with your descriptions. If the house delivers more than what is expected when viewed in person it will go a long way in securing a buyer. But if your home is underwhelming and does not match the description your buyers will be turned off.
Overly embellished listing descriptions will attract the wrong buyers making for very long, tedious process in selling. Write good real estate listing descriptions that attract the right buyers.
Other Home Marketing Resources:
- Kyle Hiscock- Marketing Strategies To Sell Your Home
- Bill Gassett- Using “Coming Soon” As A Marketing Tool
- Chris Highland- Getting Ready to Market Your Home
- Xavier De Buck- Tips For Selling Your Home For More
Do Not Make Your Home Into Something It Is Not With Your Real Estate Description was provided by Kevin Vitali of EXIT Group One Real Estate. Kevin Vitali is a Tewksbury MA REALTOR® that services northern Middlesex county as well as Essex county in Massachusetts. Are you thinking of listing your Tewksbury MA home or a home in the surrounding communities call Kevin at 978-360-0422