Thursday, 26 January 2017

3 things I've learnt from writing real estate copy

I have a few suggestions; both for real estate agents, and for buyers and sellers, but we'll get to that.

I've written copy for hundreds of properties. It means that I walk in and visit between 15 and 30 properties a week. It can be even more during the busy seasons of Spring and late summer. Every day, after visiting all these properties, I have to sit down in front of my computer and come up with creative ways to present the benefits in a way that not only describes a property but also sells it to the right kind of buyer. What do I mean by that?

You only need one

Well, as any real estate agent knows, sure, you have to market a property broadly, but in the end each property only needs one buyer. In the end, all this marketing eventually comes down to one person, one individual who thinks "that's the kind of property I want."

Nudging you towards the property

I seem to be saying vague things here. I use the words "kind of" because an important distinction needs to be made between what the advertisement for a property does, and what the real estate agent does when there's a potential buyer in the property. Put simply, the written copy on the ad does not sell the property.

Instead, the purpose of the ad is to start the customer down the slippery slope towards a sale. If my ad causes an individual to decide to turn up to a home open, then the ad has been a complete success. This might sound like a cop out, and for a while I was a bit uneasy about thinking of it in these terms. But then I stopped and I thought about how you actually search for real estate; something I am personally in the process of doing right now for my family. When you go onto a listing site like you're already a fairly motivated and interested consumer. You've already got and idea of the kind of property that you would like to rent buy or invest in. You've probably got an idea of the area if you're looking in, and some pretty firm opinions about price range and the basic features that a property requires. You may also be educated in the state of the market, and particularly in what you're looking for; how to spot quality etc.

You are a highly educated and motivated consumer; but there's a lot of property out there and you only have so much time. How do you decide?

The copy paints a lifestyle picture

You search for your basic requirements and you look at the photos and see if it's something you might like. You look at the floor plans to see if it'll work for you.  You look at the map to see if it's in the area that you want to live in and then you read the copy, because you might have missed something like a garden studio, attic storage; something that you can't see in the photo.

Then the copy will relate to you the feel of the property and lifestyle it could grant you. Which school zone it's in, other delights. These are the details that bring it home, that get you emotionally involved. This starts make you feel warm about living there. It begins to put you inside the property and make you imagine how it will make you feel. Think of this as the point at which a car dealer might say, "Hey, why don't you take it for a test drive?" If all of this resonates with you there's really only one more thing you need to do and that is going have a look at the property. So, assuming the agent makes that easy for you, the advertisement has now done it's work.

I said I had some advice. I do, but my real purpose in this post was to describe what a real estate ad is doing, and what it is not doing. It's not a plain description of the property, and yet that is in there. It's not a strong sales pitch, nor a novel, because no one has time for that. Instead, it is a quick picture of the place and how it would be to live there/own it.

What are the three things then?


1. It's not just a description.
2. There's actually a lot to it, and a lot to consider and include.
3. You need to remember standard sales copy principles, such as a hook, and call to action.

I guess I should also add that I am busy as the proverbial one-legged riverdancer right now, and it takes a lot of effort to get around and see properties (especially with big family homes, it's better to visit to get that personal feel and touch, but it's a nightmare on scheduling!)

For the buyers, allow yourself to get lost in the copy - if it resonates, go view the property. These things are written with what I might term, "exuberant honesty". It paints the property in a positive light. If you don't subsequently like it, well it's not the property for you. No loss but a bit of time, and you've made your way closer to the perfect property.

For sellers, demand the best. The copy, the photos, the floorplan, they all make a difference. A big difference.

For agents, get it right and the campaign should be a breeze. Take the time, or get some help, it's more cost effective than you might think. If you want great, effective copy on your property ads, drop us a line today.

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