Descriptions - write 'em right

Private Property South Africa
Cathy Nolan

Tip-WriteIt goes without saying that pretty photos sell houses – and* we show you how, here.*

*But, once your pro pics have lured property shoppers onto your listing, you need to retain their attention by giving them good information in your description. *

Here are some tips from US property portal Zillow’s Jay Thompson:

1. Sometimes agents (and I am one, so I can say this) get a little too creative and they fill their property descriptions with fluff and little substance:

“HONEY STOP THE CAR!! This immaculate home displays pride of ownership. From the bright and sunny kitchen to the cozy breakfast nook to the massive bedrooms, you will feel like a king or queen every time you pull into the driveway of this gorgeous, stunning, one-of-a-kind palatial estate. HURRY! THIS ONE WON’T LAST!!!!”

What does that tell someone about the home? Not much. We know it has a kitchen, bedrooms and a driveway. But most homes do. That you feel it is cozy, sparkling, gorgeous, massive, stunning and palatial means nothing. What do those words mean anyway? A “massive bedroom”? Really?

2. Another poor option for a listing description is to cite nothing but facts:

“3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 2,100 square feet. On a cul-de-sac. Master bedroom downstairs. Laundry room has gas and electrical hookups. Built-in storage in the garage. New appliances. Roof repaired 8 months ago.”

OK, so that is useful information, sort of. Much of it is already included in the property facts section of the listing display, so why repeat it?

3. Then there is this (an actual description I read a couple of years ago!):

“4/3 MIL 2450 SF. 3CEG. AC & SC. PVT IG SP w/WF. (PT). GISD but MT. DS FP & WIC in MBR. New RTR.”

Translation: 4-bedroom, 3-bath mother-in-law plan. 2,450 square feet. 3-car extended garage. Private in-ground Pebble Tech swimming pool, with water feature. Gilbert Independent School District but has Mesa taxes. Double-sided fireplace and walk-in closet in master bedroom. New red tile roof.

Watch the “real estate speak.” I’ve been licensed for seven years and seen thousands of listing descriptions. It took me awhile to decipher this code; how do you expect a home buyer to figure this out?


Tell a story. There is no need to repeat information that is already included in the listing. Use the description section to talk about the home and neighborhood; give info that isn’t readily available from the photos and data. Find a unique feature or two and highlight these. Talk about living in the home and neighborhood, not just about the home itself. You don’t need a novel; you don’t need to write like Hemingway. Just use the space you are given to supplement what your photos and property facts show.

Try for something like this:

“Hard-to-find horse property in the heart of Chandler. Relax in your backyard filled with large shade trees, citrus and roses. Have a hard time with those HOT summer days in Arizona? Take a dip in the pool! With your horses nearby on the other side of the hedgerow, you can easily take them out your back gate onto the bridle path for a ride. There is a large RV gate and cover for your RV, boat or horse trailer. The quarterly block parties are a great way to meet your new neighbors. You may feel like you’re out in the country, but you are close to shopping, schools and all the amenities of the city.”

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