The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Writing Listing Descriptions: Why I'm Bald On One Side of My Head

One of my many jobs as a real estate agent is writing those little 800 or less character blurbs about my listings that go into the Multiple Listing Service. I’ve written before about my theory that a description with a touch of flair will get more notice than the same claims of architectural perfection every other listing agent is making. I like to call this the Red Uniform Shirt Principle:

It’s fairly universally agreed upon that the color red is a standout and a power color. In a normal situation, your eye is automatically drawn to the person wearing red in any room. However, my oldest son’s school has a dress code of red polo shirts. At any given time most of the children in the room are wearing the same shade of candy apple red polo. So instead, red becomes neutral. It’s invisible and the norm of the situation. The standouts are any other color besides red.

I wrote a description of my new Tatum Highlands listing for the MLS last week that included a list of Pros and a list of Cons about the house (which I would completely print here if I hadn’t already rewritten it and now it’s gone from the planet and I can’t find it anywhere. *DER*). I felt comfortable doing this because it’s honestly a house without a lot of faults. My theory was that pointing out the fairly minor issues about the house would create a sort of goodwill with the reader (potential buyer) that would allow him to give more credence to my positive claims about the house (Well she admitted the house has carpet in the master bath, so she’s probably telling the truth that it’s otherwise updated and move-in ready, right?).

Not everyone is in agreement with me that different is better. My client, the seller, was not totally convinced this was the way to go. He wondered: Do we really want to point out faults a buyer might not see as faults until they read it and risk them not wanting to view the house at all? I talked to another agent I know and trust and she was on the same page with him. Creative and clever – YES. Pointing out what’s wrong with the house to the public – NO.

I’m still not on board with the idea the original was a detriment to the listing. I think the general public is intelligent and they will respond positively if you treat them as such. Pointing out things they would have seen within 30 seconds of entering the house anyway, is an honesty that could potentially save everyone a lot of time and get buyers in the door of my listings who are more likely to write an offer because the house has what they want. It’s all about quality, not quantity, right?

However, I am an advocate of changing things up on my listings to see what works (and I’m also an advocate of keeping my clients happy), so I rewrote the description last night. I think I actually like it better now. I was inspired by a girlfriend on Facebook yesterday who was discussing her online dating life and the do’s and don’ts of writing an online ‘Looking For Love’ profile. I don’t think I sacrificed the stand-out factor when I compromised by pulling out the ‘Cons’, in fact, I might start doing all of my listing descriptions like this:

Sweet Tatum Highlands single (family home) looking for love. She’s a youngish (12 YEARS OLD) brunette (NEUTRAL PAINT THRU-OUT) and likes to keep in good-shape (MOVE-IN READY). She has a desirable figure (LAYOUT WITH LOFT) with fabulous assets (WALK-IN CLOSETS IN MOST ROOMS AND LOFT). Her hobbies include having swimmers in her lovely GATED PEBBLE-TECH POOL and hosting cooks in her REMODELED KITCHEN. She also enjoys a thorough rubdown of her GRANITE COUNTERS with a nice natural stone cleanser. This cutie has a lot to offer a good partner (buyer). Come out and get to know her a little better. You may just find she’s that special someone you’ve been looking for.

I would love some feedback on this one, though. What do you think?

If you’re another agent, do you think it’s bad form to point out the flaws in your listing? What do you do to make your listings jump out at the buyer?

If you’re a potential buyer (or have ever been one), do you even read the descriptions, or do you block them out like we do because they’re BS (baloney spit. This is a family-friendly website)? If you read that a house is more realistic than THE BEST HOUSE EVER ON THE PLANET EARTH, COVERED WITH GLITTER SHAVINGS FROM THE HORN OF A UNICORN AND CONSTANTLY FRAMED BY A DOUBLE RAINBOW, does it make you cross it off the list? Is there anything you’d like to see done with the descriptions as a consumer?

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