Once upon a time, copywriting in Real Estate was pretty much the key to attracting buyers or tenants to a property. There were extensive spiels in the local Newspaper, accompanied by one exterior photo of the house. These days less and less importance has been placed on the copywriting element of a listing and more and more photos than ever, and videos, have been utilised to shine the spotlight on a listing, whether it is for lease or sale.
Nothing leaves an owner, agency, or property manager more vulnerable than a vacant property. For owners, this period brings the stress of financial loss, for agencies they also experience loss of income, but it is also a period where other agencies swoop in and try and take managements. You are extremely vulnerable to loss of management when a property is vacant as there is no waiting period to hand over the management and for property managers, the job they do for a client is thrust into the spotlight with every action a glaring indictment on just how good they are and the whether the job they are performing for the client is good enough. The process from re-advertising a property to securing new tenants needs to be seamless, just as it does when it comes to selling a property, competition is fierce in the real estate space. Any number of savvy rivals are just waiting for one slip-up from you to swoop in and steal the listing you have already put a lot of hard work into.
In our ever-changing digital world renting a property is no longer about simply putting up a photo in the local paper and a sign out the front of the property. Still, put the sign up though as it is great advertising and promotion in the local market, it is no longer where the majority of tenants or buyers come from. With the latest stats indicating that 95% of inquiries for properties come from online sources these days, it is more important than ever to present your property well online.
Of course photos and videos are a key element to presenting a property well online, but I want to talk about the forgotten art of copywriting. The words that you use to sell the property and that is exactly what you are doing even when leasing. You are trying to sell or showcase the best, most attractive features of the house, that will be relevant to your particular target market.
Probably around 15 years ago now, I started a small Public Relations business from home, a few of my early clients were Real Estate agencies. I started writing press releases to get news stories into the local newspapers, radio, or tv and then moved onto writing their advertising copy for prestigious or luxury properties. The copywriting was considered just as essential as the photos back then. Personally, I think it is still essential today and plays its part in the overall presentation of a property online. Nothing grinds my gears more than bullet points only used in the advertising of a property, that of course is a personal thing. To me, it screams that you can’t be bothered to put any effort in and that you don’t really care. My theory is the more details you can offer in the advertising, the fewer questions or enquiry will have to ask, meaning less time wasted on tyre kickers and more on people who are armed with as much information as possible and are ready to lease or buy the property you have presented to them.
The other side of this is that your online presence is also used as research for potential new clients. Many sellers and landlords are researching online and searching in the search engines we advertise on, checking how we present properties, how many we have leased or sold in their area. So, how you present your properties online is like an advertisement for new clients considering utilising your services, so make sure you stand out from the crowd.
SIX STEPS TO WRITING LISTING COPY AND ATTRACT NEW CLIENTS
WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE
Before you get started with the copywriting make sure you have worked out who your target audience is likely to be. Who is likely to want to rent or buy the house and what features will be key to them. If you are presenting a four-bedroom family home on acreage with a pool, it is highly unlikely a single person working in the city is going to be your target market. Alternatively, a one-bedroom inner-city apartment is unlikely to attract a family. Once you know who you are trying to attract the hard work in writing your copy becomes so much easier.
The name says it all, you need a catchy heading. As a rule of thumb, the best-selling points should be a highlight in the heading. With the world increasingly scrolling through, getting someone to actually click through and investigate further is a challenge in itself. Of course, it is not only going to be the heading that does this. If you have a supporting lead photo, that highlights the heading then you are more likely to get them to look at more information on the property. For example, if you have a property with a stunning water view, state that in your heading and showcase it in your lead photo, it doesn’t always have to be the front of the house you lead with as the cover photo. Think about the best feature or selling point and the target market you are likely to attract to the property, this will make it easier when deciding on the heading. Don’t be afraid to be cute, or try something a little quirky, all publicity is good publicity. Again remember the key is to stand out from the crowd.
WHAT ARE THE BEST SELLING POINTS
This becomes obvious once you know who you are actually trying to rent or sell the property to. If you are looking to attract high-end clients for a luxury property, the best-selling points will not only be obvious like the five bedrooms and the luxury surrounds, but it will also include the smaller detail, the ducted air conditioning, the security system, the high ceilings, the designer fittings and finishing’s, they want to know what they are going to get for their money. Put yourselves in their shoes, what would you want to know about the property if you were going to spend that amount of money living there. Sometimes it is easier to make a bullet list first and then create your copy around the best features or the ones that stand out the most.
TRY AND TELL A STORY
Does the property have a unique history, when was it built, how was it renovated, what is the history of the home. Some great stories come with properties, ask as many questions as you can, and even do a google search if you are listing a particularly old or historic home. When writing set a scene and try and have the tenant or buyer imagine themselves in the property. For example, imagine long summer days lazing by the pool, dining in the alfresco area while the kids or pets enjoy the freedom of the expansive lawns and gardens. If you’ve been dreaming of convenience and having everything at your doorstep then look no further. Or step out of the building, your local coffee shop awaits, a gym is just a short five-minute stroll and then after work, there is an array of restaurants and bars just across the road, sit back relax and unwind. Have some fun with it, even some of the worst properties can be turned into something better with a little imagination and storytelling.
DO SOME RESEARCH
Have you checked in with the council, what is the zoning, are there any historic complications with the property. All of these can add value or be the ideal selling points you need. Especially if you can subdivide the property, there is a whole market out there looking for sub-division blocks. Google the area as well, location is a key selling point. What schools or daycares service the area, how close is it to public transport, shops, or major arterial roads to key places, like the CBD. Add in the time frames to certain key locations, like a 10-minute drive to the CBD, or a 15-minute commute on the train to the City, choose the major features relevant to your target market.
ADD SOME ADJECTIVES – DESCRIPTIVE WORDS
You don’t have to be a skilled writer or a former journalist to write good listing copy. What you do need is to put some time aside to spend on writing, and add a few adjectives. For those who have forgotten their primary school education, these are the words used to describe a person, place, or thing. For example, we could just say the property is a Four Bedroom Brick and Tile Home, which is correct. Or we could say, Modern Four Bedroom low-set Brick home with brand new tiled roof. Just adding a few descriptive words can make a huge difference. Big Home on Large Block, could become, The Expansive Luxury Home, on a Stunning Lifestyle Block. Even describing simple things like the colours of the benchtop or whether it is Caesar stone or not, adding adjectives is a simple but effective way to bolster your copy and turn it into a work of art, well not quite, but you get what I mean.
Once you get a few quality copywriting pieces together, you can often cut and paste and use them for other properties. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Have a template for copywriting for your team to follow as well, so all your listings look consistent on-line. I recommend having the quality copy, as well as bullet points listing the main selling features because some people do just jump straight to them and won’t read all your copy, everyone is different. One other point I will make with the copy is that with so much photoshopping of photos these days, people are becoming untrusting or skeptical of some of the images presented, so the copy will provide that extra confidence or push they may need to view the property.
Floor plans and of course quality professional photos, even for rentals, and a video all complete the perfect online presence for your listing. You can’t go wrong! Oh yes you can, always double-check your copy and that the information is correct, you don’t want to advertise with air conditioning and a dishwasher, if the property doesn’t have them, you can get into trouble for that.
Check out our cheatsheet with some catching heading ideas.