How to Write a Property Description Like a Copywriter
Browse the listings of most estate agency websites and you’ll find fairly similar-sounding property descriptions.
And if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?
Well, although the tried and tested approach to writing property descriptions invariably works, the problem is that when everyone uses the same approach, the copy becomes overly familiar and often less effective. Every listing ends up sounding more-or-less the same. And so does the estate agency selling the properties.
In this post, we share some of the copywriting techniques we use to help our real estate clients stand out in the property market, secure more viewings and generate more enquiries. When you consider that over 98% of buyers start their property search online, it’s essential that real estate agents make the most of their listings.
Although this post is aimed at the buyer market, the same approach works equally well for the rental market.
The first thing your property description needs is a headline. The purpose of the headline is to grab your reader’s attention and encourage them to click through to your full listing.
Too often, property listings simply use the property address as the headline. This doesn’t tell the reader anything about the property itself (other than its location) and it forces the reader to form an initial impression based on the lead image.
A persuasive headline should provide the reader with the most essential information while emphasising any unique selling points:
- What makes the property unique?
- How many bedrooms (if it’s a domestic property)
- How many levels/what floor
- The type of property
In context, a good property headline might look something like this…
‘Bright and Spacious Top Floor 4-Bed Apartment in the Heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town – Offers Over £250,000’.
Straight away, the reader knows what makes the property a catch. They know how big it is, they know the type of building it is, and they know the area it’s in. And importantly, they know whether or not it’s in their price range.
The example below, posted on the Strutt and Parker website shows how a headline can capture the reader’s interest (albeit without mentioning cost):
The Opening Paragraph
Most property listings begin in the same way, using the same standard (and uninspiring) opening sentences:
- ‘A rarely available…’
- ‘A rare opportunity to acquire…’
- ‘ABC Properties is delighted to offer for sale…’
The purpose of the opening paragraph is to present the property in its best light. And this can be done by highlighting the benefits of either:
a) owning the property.
b) living in the location.
c) experiencing the lifestyle.
If the property is in need of refurbishment, it’s likely being pitched as an investment, so focusing on the benefits of ownership is a good starting point, e.g. ‘a fantastic investment opportunity for a developer’.
If the property is in a particularly sought-after location, or in an up-and-coming area, focusing on the nearby amenities can be very persuasive, e.g. ‘within walking distance to the city’s best restaurants’.
Alternatively, if the property is ideally suited to a particular type of buyer, for example, someone with a family, you may want to focus on the lifestyle that the property will enable, e.g. ‘you’ll enjoy the relaxing surroundings of this tranquil part of the city’.
The following description on Zoopla demonstrates how the right tone and language can make a property sound appealing. This description also draws attention to the property’s benefits and the type of lifestyle it affords:
The Property Description
After the opening sentence, the rest of the description should accurately describe the property using positive language. Even the slightly less impressive features can be described in positive terms. For example, a small living room might be described as ‘cosy’, a box room could be ‘perfect for a study’, or a small garden might be described as a ‘low-maintenance quad’.
The description should provide additional information on the six elements of your headline. Try to be as specific as possible without simply listing the property features. Some phrases you could try to incorporate, include:
- ‘The property benefits from having…’
- ‘The house features a…’
- ‘You’ll enjoy…’
- ‘The building comprises…’
Be sure to include anything that makes the property stand out in the marketplace. For example, the property might be ‘recently refurbished’, have a south-facing garden, its own parking space, or generous-sized rooms.
At the bottom of the description, include a bulleted list of the property’s most impressive features. This gives you the opportunity to provide practical information like room sizes etc. This part should provide an overview of the property at a glance, in an easy-to-read format.
When deciding which features to draw attention to, the trick is to know your audience. For example, a family of four might be more interested in the garden and the security system, than say, the current décor. Whereas a retired couple might be interested in the double glazing and the period features.
The basic property features you should mention include:
- Room measurements
- Storage (fitted wardrobes etc.)
- Heating system
- Type of windows (double glazed etc.)
- Security features
- Deadline date for offers (if applicable)
- Whether the property is part of a chain (if applicable)
- When the property is available from
- The school catchment area
Involve the Prospective Buyer in the Conversation
Most property listings don’t speak to the buyer directly. To make your property listing more persuasive, involve the buyer in the conversation by using ‘you’. For example, ‘you’ll enjoy relaxing in the professionally landscaped garden’. By speaking directly to the buyer, it makes it easier for them to imagine owning the property, or at least arranging a viewing to see it in person.
Consider Where Your Property Description Will be Published
If the listing is for your own website, make sure that it’s consistent in its tone of voice with the other descriptions on your site. However, if the listing is for a third-party site, you may want to consider trying to make your listing stand out from the crowd. Perhaps you can write a different headline from the ones typically found on property portals? Maybe something like:
‘At £150k Fixed Offer, This 4-Bed Villa Won’t be on the Market for Long’.
Don’t Over-Hype Your Property
It can be tempting to exaggerate the property details slightly. Although bending the truth may encourage more people to arrange a viewing, no-one will buy if they feel they’ve been misled.
Don’t exaggerate room measurements or describe them in a misleading light. If you can’t fit a double bed in the smallest room, don’t advertise it as a double, call it a single. Remember, your property description will be accompanied by images, so anything you write will be comparable against photographs.
Captivate Potential Buyers with Storytelling
One of the most persuasive ways to present a property is to include an element of storytelling. For example, a historic property will likely have an interesting back story – be sure to include it in your listing. Even new build properties have a history. Perhaps they’re built on a site of former significance? If you can incorporate a story into your description, you’ll hold your reader’s attention, provide them with interesting context and even encourage feelings of belonging.
The following description listed on the ASPC website is a great example of how storytelling can be used to entice buyers:
Create a Sense of Urgency in Your Property Listing
One of the most effective ways of encouraging people to buy is to create a scarcity mindset. If people think that the property is in demand and won’t be available for long, they’ll be more likely to take action.
You can create a sense of urgency in your listing by using short, sharp sentences and direct calls to action, for example ‘call now to arrange a viewing’. You can also use time-sensitive language like ‘in-demand property’, and ‘won’t be on the market for long’.
Use a strong Call to Action
At the end of your listing (and ideally at the top too), tell the reader exactly what you want them to do. The simplest (and most effective way) to write a call to action is to give a direct instruction, for example ‘call today to arrange a viewing’, or ‘book your viewing today’. Brownie points if you can include the words ‘you’ and ‘today’.
If you need a property copywriter for your project, get in touch with Brand New Copy at firstname.lastname@example.org. We specialise in writing property descriptions, sales brochures, and press releases. We also provide content marketing for property companies.
Header image by Ronel Reyes.