Buyers have their pick of some 11,500 properties listed every week in Australia, so marketing matters if you want your listing to stand out from the crowd.
Visual assets like floorplans, photographs and videos; outreach via social media, portals, websites, email, publicity, letterbox drops, texts; and crafted content (the descriptive writing) all play a role in helping buyers put a particular property on their wish list.
Any agent worth their salt engages professionals for the design elements like photos and videos, but plenty attempt the copywriting – often grudgingly, as many agents aren’t natural writers.
Crafting copy can take up agonising hours in an otherwise productive work week.
So to help you out, my team of journalists and I have whipped up a brief guide to help you create content that both your vendors and prospective buyers will benefit from in 2023.
There are five distinct types of copy you need for each property, and each requires a different approach for optimal performance.
But before we dive into the nuances of each individual channel, let’s talk about the copy planning phase – the steps every agent should take before they put pen to paper.
Five steps for planning compelling, clear property copy
- List every attribute of the property, which you ascertain through: Your own inspections, comments made by the vendor, desktop research and your market knowledge
These will include all the predictable (and not so common) elements of the listing: land size, bedrooms, bathrooms, features, finishes, renovations, garden and garage.
- Now reorder the hierarchy of the list in terms of the impact each will have on prospective buyers and uniqueness in the local market.
- Using that list, find an angle from those high-ranked items that makes it rare, unusual, or unforgettable.
Start your first line with a statement about how this property contradicts the norm in the market:
Is it 30 per cent bigger than the average property size in that suburb?
Is it the first to be available on that street in four years?
Is it the only three-bedroom option in that neighbourhood on the market right now?
- And then implement the inverted pyramid structure to deliver copywriting that converts.
Present the most valuable information at the beginning, followed by supporting details.
This structure is best for real estate agents’ property listing copy because it allows you to quickly capture the reader’s attention and provide the pertinent details about the property, such as its location, size, and features.
It also allows the reader to quickly get a sense of whether the property may be a good fit for them, drawing them to the most valuable features.
If they like what they see upfront, they’ll continue reading.
The following paragraphs add icing to the cake, so to speak.
The inverted pyramid structure increases the chances of a potential buyer contacting the agent to schedule an inspection.
It’s also great for SEO, and should help push you up the rankings.
- Once you think you’re finished crafting your property copy, ensure that you double check for typos or errors by reading it over one more time.
Even the most experienced writers become blind to their own errors. You should also give it a sense check.
Is your client or vendor going to be happy with the details you’ve included? Is this copy going to sell a property?
Hearing the words out loud can help you ensure everything reads well and makes sense. Paste your copy into a text-to-speech generator like Natural Reader to hear how it really sounds.
Better yet, assign an editor or two to review the final copy before it’s published.
Not everyone in real estate has a passion for words, and that’s okay.
But there’s no denying that a well-written real estate listing will set a property apart from the crowded marketplace of new listings being released every day.
Five types of copy you should be producing for every property
- Website/portal blurb
The website blurb will appear on your real estate agency’s website and be repurposed for property listing portals like realestate.com.au, domain.com and allhomes.com.au.
It should be between 200 and 600 words, with the length reflecting the quality of the property.
Don’t be afraid to break up the copy with bullet points listing property highlights.
Keep things simple and avoid overly descriptive words.
Use adjectives only to better explain an aspect of the property.
If you’re struggling to reach a 200-plus word count, remember to explain the suburb, region and the neighbourhood in detail (the buyers may not be locals), provide insights on the yield and capital growth potential, and discuss recent market trends and shifts, and emerging industries or macro-factors that will compel the buyer.
This context is wholly underrated and often overlooked by agents, who can be forgiven for forgetting buyers don’t readily have access to their level of market intelligence.
This is the most detailed copy output of the five channels, but it shouldn’t be waffly.
It should follow the inverted pyramid structure and include everything that matters about the listing.
Example: 8-9 Hillside Avenue VAUCLUSE
- Print advertising copy
This light copy has to really pack a punch.
It can’t be a rehash of the website copy for two reasons: you don’t have the space; and you’re talking to a different type of buyer – the passive buyer, the ‘peruser’, the ‘dreamer’ or the emotive buyer.
It has to be creative and compelling.
Press advertisements are dominated by images and the brief text has to impel action from the viewer.
It should, as E.B White famously wrote, “be obscure clearly”, intriguing the viewer to either find the full listing online or contact the agent.
Poetic license is powerful here.
Take those four or five key features and attributes, even if it’s simply the suburb or the neighbourhood, and sell the hell out of them in a colourful, confident, creative way.
In a press ad, you have to make the most of your headline and the space afforded for copy.
That’s all the real estate you have (excuse the pun).
You want to get as many viewers as possible to see your property, so promoting the listing via the media (earned or owned; meaning news sites or your own website) is an underutilised avenue to explore.
Write a press release to gain the attention of journalists and editors in the exact format of a news story (hop onto any news site, look at the property listing stories and emulate that style).
Include quotes from the agent (you), include stats about the market and, if you can, include a comment and photo of the sellers.
Press coverage isn’t just an additional service to offer your vendors or a fantastic way for your listings to reach a wider audience.
It also elevates your profile and gives you and your agency more credibility within your local community and beyond.
The property needs to have newsworthiness, i.e is it prestigious and glamorous, with a huge price tag (relative to your market)?
For example, does the property have a rich and interesting history?
Or is there something quirky and unusual about the listing?
If the property doesn’t have any newsworthiness, which is the case for many standard suburban dwellings, craft a first-person blog describing the property as the selling agent and post it on your blog.
Use a headline like ‘Six reasons first-home buyers need to see 23 Smith Street this weekend’ and write a personalised account of the listing.
Be conversational and colloquial in your phrasing – make it fun and light to read.
Example: 142 Bowning Street BOWNING
- Three or more social media captions
The entire purpose of a social media post is to get click-throughs to the actual listing.
So, for crying out loud, don’t give it all away.
Post quirky, quippy questions that compel the viewer to investigate.
Be outrageous, be curious, be emoji-rich and make them eager to find out what you’re alluding to.
No need to post the address or all the photos either – the less said and shown the better on social media.
100 acres of land is now available in a prestigious location near Robertson, NSW. Build your dream home amongst the valleys and trees, with epic views of the Fitzroy Falls Reservoir. See it to believe it.
Live a rural village life within commuting distance to the nation’s capital, with world-class wineries at your doorstep. Two hectares of bliss, at a price you can’t afford to miss > one click away.
Watch the sunrise as you sip your morning cuppa, host the family’s annual Boxing Day cricket test on the sands on your doorstep, invite friends over for a catch-up over the sound of Narrabeen beach. This three-bedder is one click away.
- Email teaser
Similar to social media copy, you have to restrain yourself from giving everything away in your email.
You want the click-throughs, particularly to bolster your SEO.
The sentence or two should be warm, wondrous and worthy of getting people to click on the listing.
And then, of course, for developments, luxury assets and farms, there’s the additional requirement of information memorandums.
Five simple fixes to improve your property copy in 2023
- Stop capitalising random words like ‘swimming pool’, ‘invest’, ‘summer’ or ‘kitchen’
Capitals are reserved for the start of a sentence (not after a colon), proper nouns and names (streets, people, company, suburbs, locations, countries) and dates (months, holidays or days).
If in doubt, leave the capital out.
- If you’re using an exclamation mark, you’re not utilising the right words
Exclamation marks are a lazy way to place emphasis when plenty of words can do that more effectively.
- Replace superlatives if the property isn’t super
Words like ‘gorgeous’, ‘luxury’ and ‘charming’ can hurt conversions when misused (and they often are).
- If you’re using jargon, explain it
Think: freehold, knock down, mortgagee, torrens, gearing, site improvements).
Explanations are a kind addition for buyers who aren’t experienced in market transactions.
- Expand abbreviations like Bics, BIR, SLUG, PM, OSP, F/F
It’s helpful for the reader.
Meanwhile, if it’s all too much or you’re just too busy, you can hand over this responsibility to my team at Writers Who.
We’ll turnaround all the written content listed above in 72 hours, and you can stick to the dollar-productive tasks that matter like prospecting, listing, selling, and negotiating.