Sometimes it sees like posting your real estate property listing is a bit like casting a wide net in the to sea and just hoping for the best. Nobody pays any attention and the returns are few, if any at all. It can be heavily discouraging to take so much time to take photos, make videos and write up a lengthy listing description, only to get little to no enquiries. How do you write property listings that people will actually stop and read, especially in the online space where everything moves at the speed of light? In the business of real estate, one of the greatest skills you can acquire is the ability to create compelling property lists that lead to conversions - meaning that it actually helps you sell and lease your properties faster. At the end of the day, you are really looking to “sell” in the real estate space, yet everybody hates the idea of being called a “salesman”. There's a negative connotation with the word “salesman” because nobody likes to be forcibly sold products like a car salesman. However, selling is a necessary part of the job for any successful real estate investor. Your fear of selling could be what is holding you back from efficiently selling your properties. There is a way to promote your lists and get properties sold without the awkward and annoying attachments often associated with it, and it all comes down to the marketing. Marketing is all about conveying a message efficiently, and how does one convey a message? Through words and visuals of course. Properties don't just sell themselves. You have to understand how to price it right, and promote it compellingly - and this all comes down to creating effective listings that clearly communicates WHY your property is such a hot commodity and should be bought right away. You need to know how to intelligently and charismatically convince your potential buyers why they would be INSANE not to the advantage of the opportunity you are offering them. You need to set yourself up in a position where you are not begging them to buy the property from you, but rather that they are dying for you to sell it to them. It's all about marketing!
Most of us have pre-conceived notions of what a property listing should look like. The reason most people fall behind and blend in to the masses is because they become cookie-cutter versions of what everybody else is doing. They follow templates of what's been done without getting creative about it. Think about it. How many times have you become numb and disinterested when home-hunting because every listing looked the exact same? They all start to look like clones of each other after a while, and that's how potential buyers lose interest in your offerings. There's no magic formula for what real estate property listings are supposed to look like. What you need to know is that you don't need to write listings the same way everyone else is doing. If you create listings that blend in with the masses, people will ignore you even on a subconscious level. What catches the eye are the listings that stand out, the ones that are not afraid to shy away from the crowd and be original. Being cookie-cutter is how you become forgettable and worse, unnoticed. Don't get me wrong, some of the most well-established, tried and tested tactics out there do work but the trick is to be adept at the foundation first and then start thinking outside of the box. You can't go from 0-100 and expect to come out on top completely unscathed. In order to not crash and burn, you need to first develop the basics and understand why certain strategies work and why others don't.
The Main Components For Writing An Effective Property Listing:
- HEADLINE - This is your property listing's FIRST impression. It's your first shot at getting a potential buyer or renter to notice you and click on your listing. Does your headline look different enough from the masses to catch the audience's attention? You just need a headline that will get people's attention and give them a reason to click on your listing even if its out of sheer curiosity. Curiosity is what will get you leads.
- OPENING STATEMENT - the first sentence of your listing should get straight to the point of what your real estate property is all about. Just a simple elevator pitch and give them a reason to keep on reading.
- Narrative Description of the primary features of the property:
- Number of Bedrooms
- Number of Bathrooms
- Size/Square Footage of the Property
- Building Name (if any)
- Year the property was built
- Other community/neighbourhood amenities and features
- Parking Lot features, number of parking spaces
- Other features - swimming pool, patio, balcony, terrace, deck, fireplace, jacuzzi…etc.
- New kitchen appliances
- Unique characteristics - mountain views, sea views, basketball courts, waterfront, oceanfront, lakefront, clubhouses…etc
- Recent updates/rennovations
- Closing Statement and Call-to-action to encourage buyers/renters to contact you
- Some listings forget to include contact information and that is the biggest mistake you can make. Even if a buyer/renter is interested, they have no way of contacting you! You may want to include several ways to contact you (work number, mobile number, email address, social media accounts) to make it easy for potential interested parties to get in touch with you.
Writing real estate listings is not easy. It's rather challenging. Any writer knows that capturing the targeted audience's attention is super difficult, and not everyone has the tools to do it effectively. But writing solid and effective real estate listings that actually capture your reader's attention is an integral part of real estate marketing - so take some time to digest these helpful tips on how to write good real estate listings that will actually help sell and rent your properties faster.
Since this blog is focused on the Hong Kong market, we want to get straight to the point and teach you how to not only write universally effective real estate listings, but ones that are specifically tailored to the Hong Kong market:
Our Top Tops For Writing Good Real Estate Listings For The Hong Kong Market
Be Mindful of seasonal changes
You might be wondering why seasons matter, i mean its' not like we only rent or buy a home for a season at a time but it matters tremendously. It all has to do with the way our brains work and knowing how to write for the time of the year matters a great deal. Your listings need to be regularly updated while keeping the right seasonal features in mind. For example, if during spring and summer, you want to emphasize on amenities like outdoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, patios, balcony, gardens, bbq area and so on. In the fall and winter, you may draw the focus to spaces that convey warmth, such as an inviting dining and living area for holiday dinner parties, lighting, electric fireplaces, state of the art heaters, heated floors, and anything that makes the home cozy and inviting. You want to refresh your listings eery few months to target and highlight the features that are most relevant to its corresponding seasons and time of the year. Consumers make purchases according to their current emotional connections, and when you appeal to their emotions, you have a higher chance of captivating interests.
Most people make the common mistake of recycling a property listing month after month, sometimes year after year, each time that it is vacant. Sure, it's convenient and will save you some time but it is not the most effective marketing. When potential buyers and renters are shopping, they subconsciously make decisions based on their current feelings and you want to capitalize on that as much as you can. If it is spring/summer time, potential buyers/renters are most probably looking for a home where they can spend a decent amount of time outdoors in pleasant weather. By highlighting features such as a big patio with bbq area, jacuzzi and swimming pool, you immediate capture their interest because subconsciously that's already what they are looking for.
Also, be mindful of your locale. If you are in a city such as Hong Kong, where it's mostly bilingual, you may want to write your listing in both English and in Chinese to appeal to a broader audience.
Remember to always keep your marketing materials up to date, along with seasonal changes for increased effectiveness.
Take professional quality photos and other visual content
Most people who browse through online property listings spend most of their time sifting through photos and other visuals. The photos and videos that go along with the writing are just as important if not more important the majority of the time. We have an article titled “Hong Kong's Guide To Taking Professional-Quality Real Estate Listing Visuals”, which specifically talks about how to create effective visual content for your property listings, do take the time to read it.
Similar to the text portion of your listing, you want to make sure that your property's visual content (photographs and videos) are up to date and professional looking - this means, well lit, uncluttered, not blurry, and wide-angle. You can easily hire a professional photographer to create the content for you if you are not savvy with a camera. There's a wide range of photographers who can help you take photos, some will require more budget and others less. Another great option is to find a University student who is a photography major to take on the task for you. This will cost you significantly less and college students are often up for small jobs like this to expand their portfolio and/or make extra income.
Remember to upload more than just one photo. Potential buyers cannot tell if your property is of interest to them if there is only one reference photo to go by. Would you agree to a date with someone whose online dating profile only has one photo? Probably not. Professional photos in real estate work like photos for an online dating profile. The more you put up, the more people will be able to get an essence of who you are, what you are like and whether they want to take the time to meet and get to know you. In real estate, you want to give potential buyers/renters a feel for what it would be like to step on to your property, just enough to pique their interest so that they will make further enquiries. Make sure to highlight the features that make your property special.
If you were to list a property in Pokfulam, one of your neighbourhood features could be the beautiful waterfront and the expansive dog park in the area. You want to highlight the features that potential buyers and tenants would love - features that cannot be found elsewhere in other neighbourhoods. Maybe you have a property up at The Peak and one of the most prominent features are the views. You want to highlight these features so that potential buyers and tenants don't miss it. Show off your strong attributes as much as you can.
Write concisely and clearly
There are some very poorly written real estate property listings out there that the writer thinks works but actually does the opposite. One example is the use of too much slang and abbreviations. You have to understand that not everyone can read abbreviations, and abbreviations can be annoying. It doesn't cost you that much more time to write a word in its full form, so why not do it? The biggest mistake that you can make when writing real estate property listings is the using so much real estate jargon that you end up confusing the reader more. Instead of writing 2B/2Bth, you should write out “2 bedrooms/2 batrooms” instead. You want to make your written listing as concise and clear as possible. You want to be direct and straight to the point, and don't try to embellish and make it all fancy. This is not a fictional novel, you only need to say what you need to say about your property listing in a clear and appealing way. Anything more you do will just end up guilding the lily. In such case, less is more.
Use words and phrases and convey an accurate yet positive picture of your property. Make sure you describe your property using descriptive, bright, positive and attractive words. Your choice of words can make or break your listing. For example, what is more likely to make you click on a listing for further information? One that says, “Small, old studio apartment” or the same property that has a description like, “Cozy, quaint and charming studio apartment”.
Some good description words often used in real estate for reference include, but of course there are plenty of other options so get creative!
Don't over-exaggerate and don't downplay anything. Give them exactly what they should expect to avoid unpleasant suprises.
Be transparent about the price
Don't withhold price on your listings. There's nothing more frustrating than when a listing says, “Please inquire about price”. People want information when they want it. They want things now, especially with how easily accessible information is from their smartphones. When you withhold listings, it actually backfires on you by deterring away potentially good buyers/tenants from being interested and causing you to have to deal with a lot of dead-end leads when the cost isn't what they had expected or hoped for. You are selling a product, so there's no reason to maintain an air of mystery. Being mysterious, especially about the price of your property is NOT going to get it off the market any faster.
When you withhold the price, it does more to scare people off than captivate interests. Placing the price clearly in your listing will help prospective interested parties to know what to expect from your properties. The only thing you need to remember is that the right price with the right amenities, features and upkeep will attract the right buyers/tenants. There is absolutely no need to not be transparent about the price in real estate. The more transparent you are, the better. People don't like to guess, and they often don't want to take the time to even call and inquire. They want to know right away if the listing is on their Yes or No list.
Don't oversell and over-embellish
When you oversell and over-exaggerate how amazing your property is, it actually makes people wary of you. It makes people wonder why you are trying so hard. Avoid using caps, too many exclamation points, smiley faces, Emojis…you know the works. You want to maintain a sense of positive subjectivity since this create trust. People are more inclined to trust your listing if you don't go overboard with your diction.
When writing a property listing as a landlord, property management company owner, property investor…etc, always remember that your listings should be a clear and accurate representation of your properties. If you have a quality property, and you create the right visual content along with the right texts, you'd better believe that there are a decent number of interested parties who will be attracted to your properties.
Share with us your top tips for writing an effective real estate listing!