Q9. Writing Winning Ads

Real estate listings usually include a lot of pictures because pictures really are worth a thousand words. But homebuyers routinely tour houses and attend open houses based on the strength of classified ads, too – just some lines of text with no images involved.

The writers of those classified ads chose the right words. Knowing the right words to use can help you compose an effective advertisement that will set your listing apart and get your listing sold.

Brainstorm Words to Describe the Home You are Listing

Start by listing all the adjectives and nouns that come to your mind when you think about your house. Let the words and your imagination flow. Do not worry about the order or spelling at this point. Just write them down as they pop into your mind.

Avoid Negative Words

Now review your list and cross off any words that might potentially sound negative or misleading. You might have said:

Small or tiny: Your home or condo might be cosy, but it is not small. Do not ever use this word unless you’re selling a true “tiny home,” designed and built and intended to be that way.

Cramped: Cross “cramped” off your list as well. A house might be comfortable, but it is never cramped. Cramped usually cannot be fixed, at least not without boatloads of money poured into renovations and additions.

Outdated: Outdated implies that a lot of work will be necessary to make the place liveable. “Original vintage” is much better. Vintage homes in pristine condition are sought after.

Oversized: This might sound like a good word, but you will want to stay away from it, too, unless your home is the largest one in the neighbourhood. If so, it is a white elephant and it should be priced accordingly.

Upside potential: Use this phrase only if you are clearly selling a fixer-upper. Buyers cannot normally envision potential, and they will want to pay less for it, not more.

Basement: “Basement” condos and co-ops are hard to sell. If you were given a choice between looking at a basement or a penthouse, which would you choose? A better word choice is “lower level.”

Ugly but cute: You might think “ugly but cute” is clever, but odds are that buyers will not get past the “ugly” part. Just do it if you need to replace the carpeting. There is no need to alert buyers to the fact that they will have to take care of it themselves. Forget that old school of thought that says a buyer wants to pick out his own carpeting. He does not.

Fresh paint: Paint it if the place needs a paint job, but do not advertise the property as having “fresh paint.” Buyers tend to be suspicious and wonder why you had to recently paint the home. What are you covering up?

Leaking roof: As for that “leaking roof,” nobody sets out to buy a house with the potential for water splattering on their living room furniture. Most buyers are afraid of roofs that need repair and rightly so. Replace the roof, if possible, and offer a roof certification.

Near train or bus line: Public transportation might be important to urban buyers, but some homebuyers imagine endless noise and fumes when they see the words “on bus line” or “near train.” In fact, properties located by light rail or the train sell for a lot less than homes just a few blocks away, and they take longer to sell. A better word choice is “public transportation available.”

Motivated seller: Stay away from “motivated seller,” too. A motivated seller is a desperate seller, and desperate sellers accept much less than market value.  Don’t wave that flag and label yourself. Use “all offers considered” instead.

Some of these might look like no-brainers, but you would be surprised as to how often they find their way into property descriptions ads.

Real Estate Advertising Words That Work

Now replace all those words you crossed out with something more affirmative. Accentuate the positive.

Think back to when you bought your home. What made you want it? What single feature made you write an offer? Play up those factors. They might include:

Beautiful: Every home buyer wants a beautiful home. The word “beautiful” is powerful regardless of where or how it is used.

Turnkey: Let readers know about it if your property is ready to move into tomorrow. Some agents use the phrase “all the work has been done for you,” and this is good, too. Either way, it presents a clear picture of a home ready for occupancy with minimal or no fuss.

Lovingly maintained: One of the greatest fears of homebuyers is having to pour money into a house after closing. Homes that are well maintained require less initial upkeep, so you might want to mention that yours has been “lovingly maintained.”

Spacious: Buyers envision buying a home that is large enough for their needs. You might use other words that describe a big space as well, such as huge or enormous, but do not say it if it is not true.

Backyard paradise: These two words speak volumes. A big and welcoming backyard can be the main selling feature for some buyers, especially those with children, pets, or who are buying in warmer climates.

Open floor plan: A great floor plan can overcome many other objections, including the overall size of the house. Good flow can maximize space. Most homebuyers want an open floor plan.

Redeemed to perfection: Let buyers know if you have made updates that enhance the home, but do not say it was “completely remodelled” unless the home was literally torn down to the studs. This could get you sued. Say “remodelled to perfection” instead.

Suite: The term “suite” lets buyers know the master bedroom has its own bath, and this is a desirable feature. It is always good to mention a “huge master suite” or “retreat.” Picture the mom and dad who just put their kids to bed. Do they want to retreat somewhere private and comfortable? Count on it.

“Sell the sizzle and not the steak” is an adage that is particularly true when it comes to writing property descriptions.

Choose Short Descriptive Headlines

Decide which of your revised word list speaks volumes and choose one to describe your house. If it’s location, style, size, or updates, use these features to write an attention-grabbing headline.

Read other ads to see how those agents describe homes in or near your neighbourhood. Go ahead and steal the best modifiers, like these:

  • Stunning Classic.
  • The magnificent Mediterranean.
  • Prestigious Location.
  • Finest Street In (name of the neighbourhood).
  • Entertainer’s Delight.
  • Charming Cottage.
  • Sparkling Pool and Private Spa.
  • Beautiful Bungalow.
  • Fabulous Water Views.
  • Skyline View.
  • Secret Gardens.
  • Upscale Urban.

Bear in mind that these are the first words a buyer will see when reading your ad. Tell them what is important – in the best possible terms.

Your Closing Statement

Tell readers how they can learn more now that you have sparked their interest. Your call-to-action in a closing statement is just as important, if not more important than any other part of your classified ad. Let potential buyers know what is in this for them.

Here is where you will mention that you’ll consider all offers. Yes, you are probably inviting a low-ball offer or two or more, but so what? You can always come down on price if you absolutely must. Include clear contact information for you, your agent, or both.

And then there is the Law

All media ads, including digital and social, must not contain deceptive, false or misleading content. Messaging should be responsible and authentic.

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