There are ways to sell your home that even your realtor doesn’t know about. If you currently own a house, or plan to at some point, what you’ll learn in this article will be invaluable to you. Because you’ll learn to sell a home faster, and for a larger profit, these tips can ultimately earn you an extra number of thousands of dollars. One of the only things you have to do is make sure that the listing description of the house is good! Isn’t that something? It’s disappointing that most realtors don’t even realize what’s in store in this article.
What is the MLS?
For starters, most home are sold through the MLS. Well, not literally. The MLS is short for “Multiple Listing Service.” This is where real estate agents list homes that come onto the market. The listings will include a paragraph or so in a description, basic property details and photos. Most people assume that the agent knows how to put the listing into the service, but the truth is that many don’t. The description is everything when it comes to the MLS. Many think that the listing isn’t important when it comes to the MLS, that it’s just a basic tool to show agents what’s come on the market. Real estate agents are the ones responsible for adding a listing to this service. But, are they doing their jobs right?
How do the listing descriptions and the DOM come into play?
There was a really revolutionary study done in Texas over a 3 year period that looked at how the description on the listing affected the sales price and Days on Market (DOM). The results were astounding. Turns out, most of the common phrases and/or words used in the listings really hurt their client. Either by a lower purchase price, or staying on the market longer than it needed to or should have. Or both. Below are the findings from those studies:
“Motivated Seller”: Agents who put this phrase into the listings did so with the intent to bring in offers, fast. Yet, the study discovered that listings with this phrase sold for four-percent less in terms of sales prices, and spend about fifteen-percent percent longer on the real estate market. The term “motivated seller” is detrimental.
“Good Buy”: Listings that had the phrase “good buy” buried into the description showed that the house sold for less money. The study actually found that the seller could have gotten more money for the house if the phrase “good buy” had been excluded.
“Vacant”: The study showed that listings bearing the word “vacant” in the MLS description sold for less money than if the word had been left out, suggesting that the house could have ben sold for more than it actually did.
“Repairs”: The study showed that homes that had just gone through large or recent repairs sold for far less. On the other hand, in the instances of homes where the description was switched by a single word—from “repairs” to the word “updated,” the house sold for more money. Furthermore, describing the repairs in the listing aided in the home staying on the market far longer than it needed to. Profound effect.
“Good Location”: When used, this term affected the sales price negatively. Possibly, adding “good location” suggested that either the agent or owner—or both of the parties—lacked confidence regarding the location of the house.
Can you believe? Sellers believe that their agents know what they are doing when adding their house to the MLS. All you hear about with realtors is MLS this, MLS that. “I’ll send you the listings on the MLS.” Agents are supposed to be knowledgeable when it comes to the MLS and yet, their sellers are losing a lot of money simply by a word or small phrase.
So, what should you put in the description? How should you form it to get bites on the listing?
If you want to sell your house, hands-down the best description you can put on the listing is one that lets the buyer envision that home being his. This means you’ve got to list more than features. You have to actually reach the buyer emotionally. Write a description that actually causes feelings.
Whatever you do, steer clear of the common words and phrases that will cost you money on the closing table. And remember, you never want a stale house.
What are some words that you SHOULD use in your description?
Lower-priced listings with the word “luxurious” sold for 8.2 percent more on average than expected. “Luxurious” signals that a home’s finishes and amenities are high-end. This is a huge selling point, particularly in this price range.
Top-tier listings described as “captivating” sold for 6.5 percent more on average than expected. Unlike the word “nice,” “captivating” provides a richer, more enticing description for buyers. Plus, it’s less open to interpretation. Anything can be seen as “nice,” but “captivating” sets a high bar.
On average, listings in the bottom tier with the word “impeccable” sold for 5.9 percent more than expected. Like “captivating,” “impeccable” is a rich adjective. It also implies something about the quality of a home: The features are desirable and the home is move-in ready.
“Stainless” is typically used to describe kitchens with “stainless steel appliances.” It’s in your favor to talk up these features in your listing — especially if your home is in the bottom price tier. In our analysis, lower-priced homes with the word “stainless” sold for 5 percent more on average than expected.
On average, lower-priced homes with the word “basketball” sold for 4.5 percent more than expected. This may seem like an odd word to include in this list, but when you consider the context it makes sense. Among lower-priced homes, a basketball court — or even better, an indoor basketball court — is a huge selling point. While it may not stand out as much among higher-priced homes, it’s definitely worth mentioning in this price range.
It’s just as valuable to describe your yard as your house. In all price tiers, listings with the word “landscaped” sold for more than expected on average. The biggest premium was seen among lower-priced listings, which on average sold for 4.2 percent more than expected.
In the same vein as “stainless,” “granite” is typically used to describe countertops or another high-end home feature. Listings with the word “granite” sold, on average, for 1 to 4 percent more than expected across all price tiers.
Not only should you include high-end home features in your listing description, you should also mention features not found in every home. They’ll help your listing stand out, especially if buyers are searching for homes online by keyword. The data shows mid-priced listings with the word “pergola” sold for 4 percent more on average than expected.
Was your home recently remodeled? It may be worth mentioning. On average, bottom-tier listings with the word “remodel” sold for 2.9 percent more, middle-tier homes for 1.8 percent more and top-tier homes for 1.7 percent more than expected.
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a beautiful feature like a view may be worth noting. Lower-priced listings with the word “beautiful” sold for 2.3 percent more on average than expected.
“Gentle” may seem like a weird adjective to have in a listing description. It’s typically used to describe “gentle rolling hills” or something about a home’s location. Top-tier listings with the word “gentle” sold for 2.3 percent more, on average, than expected.
You may think all homes are spotless when a buyer moves in, so it’s not worth mentioning in a listing. But when it comes to lower-priced homes, cleanliness isn’t always a given. In this price range, listings described as “spotless” sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.
Much like “stainless” and “granite,” “tile” is a great word when it comes to describing the features of your home. A newly tiled backsplash or updated bathroom tile not only indicates a home’s aesthetic value but also sends a message to buyers that the home’s been well cared for by the current owners. Bottom-tier homes with the word “tile” in the listing sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.
On average, lower-priced listings with the word “upgraded” sold for 1.8 percent more than expected. Most buyers will agree that upgrades are a selling point. They indicate a home not only looks nice but also functions well. Spelling out which features have been updated is a good approach, so buyers have the right expectations when they see your home.
“Updated” sends a similar message to “upgraded.” But in addition to speaking to the quality of a home, it signals that something old has been replaced with something new. This is a great fact to communicate to potential buyers, as evidenced by the data. Mid-priced homes with “updated” in the listing sold for 0.8 percent more on average than expected.
Don’t try to follow the crowd
Most of us have a lot of pre-conceived notions about what a property listing is supposed to look like. We’ve all browsed through plenty of other listings before and we’ve subconsciously told ourselves, “Well… I guess that’s what my listing is supposed to look like too.”
If you want to learn how to write real estate ads well, the fact of the matter is you don’t need to look like everyone else. In fact… looking like everyone else is one of the worst things you can do. If you create listings that blend in with the crowd, people will ignore you. Looking “average” is one of the best ways to be forgettable and NOT get noticed by the masses.
That being said, it isn’t easy to think outside the box and be original with real estate listings. It’s not naturally intuitive for most of us to be different/creative and that’s why so many listings are so boring and uninspiring. Some of the well-established tactics out there do work, but most people aren’t clear on which tactics work and why.
When you’re posting your property for sale on a website with thousands of other listings, it is imperative that your ad has an eye-catching headline that looks different. Your headline is an extremely important part of your listing because in most cases, this will be your only shot at getting a buyer to notice you, so you’d better find a way to stand out from the crowd. Remember, you only have a split second to catch someone’s attention and engage them into clicking on your listing; so this kind of first impression is very important.
You don’t need to lie. You don’t need to exaggerate. You don’t need to price it at 50% of market value. You just need to get people’s attention and give them a reason to click on your listing (even if it’s out of sheer curiosity).
There is a fine line between painting a positive word picture about your property and overselling/hyping your property. While that may seem opposite of what we’ve been talking about, all you really want to do is show off how great your property is and it can be tempting to overstate the “greatness” of it.
The fact is, most people know B.S. when they see it. If you come blasting out of the gate with claims about your property that are clearly embellished or just outright false, you’re not going to fool anyone. At best, you’ll seriously tarnish your reputation in your market and you might even create some new enemies along the way; so don’t go there.
The trick to selling is not to “trick” anyone. The goal is to be very clear about why your property is an amazing opportunity and if it’s communicated the right way (and if your asking price is in-line), you can help a lot of people “connect-the-dots” and realize that your property is exactly what they need.
The most successful sales people know how to convey this information seamlessly and effectively, all while catering to the emotional needs of their buyers. Don’t oversell it. Don’t make it into something it’s not. Just describe your property and it’s features in a way that will help buyers see the greatness of it. Help them to picture themselves in your property and come to the conclusion that it’s the best decision they can make.