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, which may be some lines of text with no images involved.
The writers of those ads chose the right words. Knowing the right real estate advertising words to use can help you compose an effective ad that will set your listing apart and get your home sold.
Here are steps to help you craft the perfect ad.
- Make a spontaneous list of the best advertising words that pop into your head when you think of your house. Don’t overanalyze them.
- Look at your list. Cross out any of your home-selling words that have negative implications.
- Replace negative words–or add new ones–with attention-grabbing words with positive implications.
- Keep your classified ad headline short, but make it enticing and focused on the best thing about your house.
Brainstorm Words to Describe Your Home
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. Don't worry about the order or spelling at this point. Just write them down as they pop into your mind. Consider both the interior and exterior of your home.
Avoid Negative Words and Phrases
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 cozy, but it is not small. Don't 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 cozy, but it's never cramped. Cramped usually can't be fixed, at least not without boatloads of money poured into renovations and additions.
- Outdated: This word implies that a lot of work will be necessary to make the place livable. Vintage is much better. Vintage homes in pristine condition are sought after.
- Oversized: This might sound like a good word, but you'll want to stay away from it, too, unless your home is the largest one in the neighborhood.
- Upside potential: Use this phrase only if you're clearly selling a fixer-upper. Buyers can't usually envision potential, and they'll 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? "Lower level" is a better description.
- Ugly but cute: You might think that "ugly but cute" is clever, but the odds are that buyers won't get past the "ugly" part. If you need to replace the carpeting, just do it. Forget that old school of thought that says buyers want to pick out their own carpeting. They don't.
- Fresh paint: Paint it if the place needs a paint job, but don't advertise the property as having "fresh paint." Buyers tend to be suspicious and wonder why you had to paint the home recently. 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 a 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 a train sell for a lot less than homes just a few blocks away, and they can take longer to sell. "Public transportation available" is a much better choice of phrase.
- Motivated seller: A motivated seller is seen as a desperate seller, and a desperate seller may accept much less than market value. Don't wave that flag and label yourself. Use "all offers considered" instead.
Some of these might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at how often they find their way into classified ads.
Real Estate Advertising Words That Work
Now replace all of 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 homebuyer wants a beautiful home. The word "beautiful" is powerful, regardless of where or how it's used.
- Turnkey: Let readers know about it if your property is ready to move into tomorrow. Some agents use "All the work has been done for you," and that is good, too. Either way, it presents a clear picture of a home that is 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's large enough for their needs. You might use other words that describe a big space as well, such as "huge" or "enormous," but don't say it if it isn't true.
- Backyard paradise: These two words speak volumes. A big and welcoming backyard can be the main selling feature for some buyers, especially if they have children or pets, or those 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. Many homebuyers want an open floor plan.
- Suite: The term "suite" lets buyers know that the master bedroom has its own bath, which is a desirable feature. It's always good to mention a "huge master suite" or "retreat." Picture the mom and dad who have just put their kids to bed. Do they want to retreat somewhere private and comfortable? Count on it.
"Sell the sizzle, not the steak" is an old adage that is particularly valid when it comes to writing real estate classified ads.
Choose Short, Descriptive Headlines
Decide which words on your revised list speak volumes, and choose those to describe your house. If they refer to location, style, size, or updates, use those features to write an attention-grabbing headline.
Read other ads to see how agents describe homes in or near your neighborhood. Go ahead and steal the best phrases, like these:
- Stunning classic
- Magnificent Mediterranean
- Prestigious location
- Finest street in [name of the neighborhood]
- Entertainer's delight
- Charming cottage
- Sparkling pool and private spa
- Beautiful bungalow
- Fabulous water views
- Skyline view
- Secret gardens
- Upscale urban
Keep in mind that these are the first words a reader will see when noticing your ad. Tell them what's most important—in the best-possible terms, of course.
Your Closing Statement
Now that you've sparked their interest, tell readers how they can learn more. Your call to action in a closing statement is just as important, if not more more so, than any other part of your classified ad. Let potential buyers know what's in it for them.
Here's where you'll mention that you'll consider all offers. Yes, you're probably inviting a low-ball offer or two or more, but so what? You can always come down on price if you absolutely have to. Include clear contact information for yourself, your agent, or both.
Fair Housing Compliance
And then there's the law. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or familial status. You don't want to say anything in your ad that even alludes to those issues.
Ask your real estate agent or attorney (if you have one) to review your ad. Make sure that it complies with federal fair housing laws before you publish it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the most important things to do when selling a home?
When marketing your home, it's essential to take good pictures and put up a sign in the front yard. Other techniques that work well for sellers include virtual tours, direct mail, and e-flyers. Open houses are a tried-and-true method, as well.
What should I fix when selling my home?
When you're selling your home, it is not required to "fix it up." If you're thinking about making some improvements, think about what would bring about the highest ROI (return of investment) and do the proper research before diving in. You may feel that your house needs work in some areas, but the buyer may not even notice those issues. Talk to your real estate agent, and check out other local homes for sale to see what's out there and find what potential buyers are looking for.