In this article, I’m going to share my five favourite tips for writing better copy. These techniques are applicable for any industry, but I’ve written this article specifically for real estate agents – everything in here will help you create better online listings.
Not everyone has the time or inclination to become better at writing copy. If that’s you, and you’re happy with the number of calls you’re getting from your online listings, click away from this page.
If your property pictures look great, though, and you’re still not getting the leads you want, your copy is probably the issue. Willing to spend some time improving? Keep reading to find out exactly what you can do to make your writing better.
Before you read this article, make sure you learn what not to do when creating your online listings.
1. Start With the Benefits
The easiest way to improve your real estate copy is to think about how what you’re selling benefits the consumer. This is a technique used by marketers across all industries – and it works in property too.
First, think about who you’d like to sell the property to (‘anyone’ isn’t an answer). You need to be specific – ask yourself what type of person is this property most suitable for? If you’re having trouble, start by excluding people who the property wouldn’t be suitable for.
Why You Can’t Sell to ‘Everyone’
Marketing works by appealing to groups, and the people who identify as being part of them. If you try to sell to every group, you’ll end up selling to none of them. Your product/service will be tepid, loved or hated by no-one, because it’s so general that it fails to solve any specific problem – and problem-solving is, in the end, what every product or service comes down to.
For example, a four-bedroom house in the suburbs at $550 a week probably isn’t ideal for students or young singles. Perhaps a young family would be your ideal renters – or maybe a middle-class couple.
You might then think about which type of person is, typically, a more reliable, less risky tenant, and decide to make that type of person your ideal buyer/renter. You’d probably also want to consider factors like availability (how many middle-class couples are looking for a house?) and market factors (if it’s a renter’s market, you might have to aim for easy sales).
That’s a pretty simplified way of determining your target audience, but it’s all you need for the vast majority of properties.
Now, let’s say you chose the middle-class couple. Think about the things that most middle-class couples value in properties (for example, quick, easy access to their jobs), think about the property’s inherent features, and identify overlap.
Here’s a quick example:
|Target Audience Desired Benefit||Property Feature|
|Convenient access to their workplaces to reduce travel time||Located just five minutes from the highway|
|Comfortable living spaces||Fully air-conditioned rooms with excellent lighting|
|A fun lifestyle||Located just 10 minutes from shopping and dining precincts|
See how it works? These property features are the ones you want to highlight, because they’re directly linked to benefits your target audience wants.
By contrast, if you were targeting middle-class couples, you probably wouldn’t emphasise proximity to schools, because it isn’t relevant to them. Put it in the features section? Sure. In the first two paragraphs? No.
2. Keep Things Simple
Good writing is really just good communication – and the best communication is simple.
To engage with your readers, use direct language that gets the point across. Fancy words have a place, but they can often make your writing seem complicated and confusing. Avoid long sentences and awkward sentence structures.
Here’s an example we took from a real listing:
“Complete with an alluring splashback, pendant lighting overhanging the island benchtop and quality appliances, as well as plenty of cupboard and bench space, plus room for a double door fridge.”
See how confusing this is? There’s so much information packed into one sentence! Here’s a way you could simplify it to make it more accessible for readers:
“A porcelain-tiled splashback, an island benchtop, and overhead pendant lighting make cooking and clean-up simpler than ever. Prepare your meals with the modern German-engineered cooktops, and use the spacious cupboards for storage – there’s even room for a double-door fridge.”
There are more words in our edit, but the features and the benefits are conveyed much more clearly. That’s why picking your target audience is important. You don’t really have space to talk about every single feature, so just highlight the most important ones.
3. Use Adjectives – Occasionally
Many amateur writers go overboard with descriptive language when they’re trying to convey an image to readers. It’s quite normal, but it’s also something to correct.
The point of descriptors (adjectives) is to help readers understand something better – think of each word like a paintbrush stroke that reveals more of the whole picture. With that in mind, you should only ever use adjectives when they actually add to the reader’s understanding of a property.
Let’s take two adjectives from the earlier example: ‘alluring’ (“alluring splashback”) and ‘quality’ (“quality appliances”). What do these two words actually mean?
Alluring: powerfully and mysteriously attractive or fascinating; seductive.
Quality: of good quality; excellent.
Describing a splashback as ‘alluring’ is hyperbolic – a porcelain splashback is nice, but it’s not exactly fascinating or seductive. It’s better to say why it’s attractive, and let the readers fill in the blanks for themselves.
“Quality appliances” only makes sense if the described appliances are in some way superior to the majority of other appliances out there. If they are, tell the readers why. You’ll sound less boring and much more convincing.
Meaningless ‘empty-calorie’ adjectives like ‘quality’ and ‘alluring’ just clog up your writing, making it harder for readers to understand you. Good adjectives reveal more of the picture; empty-calorie adjectives are like random splotches of colour that obscure what’s going on.
Even if you’re using effective adjectives, though, don’t overdo it. Not everything needs to be described in explicit detail. Save your words for important features or things that need describing.
It’s also worth remembering that, because it’s part of a real estate listing, your copy won’t be read in isolation. People will almost always look at property images first, so you don’t need to tell them about blatantly obvious traits like house colour or pool shape.
4. Be Clear
Make sense. That’s the number one rule of all marketing, and it’s true for real estate copywriting too. If your audience can’t understand what you’re saying, you can’t possibly persuade them to take action.
There are three simple techniques you can use to produce clear, clean writing:
- Don’t try to do too much. Write short, simple sentences that convey a single idea.
- Don’t write in fragments (incomplete sentences). You’re not jotting down notes for a presentation – you’re creating a serious piece of marketing collateral, and both your clients and your audience deserve the extra few seconds it takes to write a full sentence.
- Once you’ve finished writing, read your work out loud. Does it make sense? If not, change it.
5. Be Stylistically Consistent
Most big businesses have some kind of style guide to regulate their writing – a document that tells them what to capitalise, where to use commas, and other technical details.
They have these guides because they know that having good grammar helps you seem more trustworthy and makes your message easier to understand. Lots of research has proven them correct.
As a small organisation, you might not have the budget for a style guide – but you can achieve a similar effect by being consistent in how you write and use punctuation. For example, don’t write “4 bedroom” in one part of your listing, then write “four-bedroom” somewhere else.
Inconsistency makes it harder for readers to understand your writing, and they’ll also perceive you as being less credible.
For high-value listings, consider hiring a professional proofreader to minimise the risk of prospects being turned off by grammatically incorrect copy (yes, it can and does happen).
These are my five favourite ways to write better real estate copy:
- Write about the benefits your property brings to your target audience.
- Use simple language that gets the point across (never use a word if you’re not 100% sure what it means).
- Don’t overuse adjectives – and don’t use empty-calorie words that clog up your writing.
- Read your writing out loud to check that it makes sense.
- Use grammar and punctuation consistently.
Sound like a lot of work? It can be, especially if you’re time-poor. Copywriting is an art that many marketers spend a lifetime trying to master.
If you don’t have the time or marketing knowledge to write great copy, get in touch with our professional real estate copywriters. You can talk with us about ongoing work, or request one-off listings using our quick submission form.