From the Star Ledger:
So you’re selling your house. You could keep the listing short and simple: “3BR, 1BA, eat-in kitchen.”
Or you could do what real estate agent Maryanne Elsaesser did when she wrote this listing description for a client’s home:
“With magical, embracing arms, this home can whisk you right back to your childhood. Remember racing down the street with your brand new Schwinn bike to be greeted by the smell of bacon frying for your special BLT lunch….”
There are as many ways to describe a home as there are homes. And many experts agree with Elsaesser that it’s not enough to dryly recite a home’s features; it’s also smart to touch a buyer’s emotions and tell a story about the property. Just as photos are crucial, choosing the right words can make a difference in how fast a home sells, and for what price.
“It’s important to give a little bit of the flavor and character of the home,” said Lisa Sammataro, a Keller Williams agent in Ridgewood (and a former English major). “Sometimes you try to create an image of what it might be like to live there.”
“Words play on the imagination in a way that a photograph cannot,” said Beth Freed of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty in Ridgewood, who likes to evoke images like the wedding you could someday host in the backyard of the home.
One thing seems clear: there’s no need to be terse. Zillow executives Spencer Rascoff and Stan Humphries analyzed tons of listings on the online real estate site for their 2015 book, “Zillow Talk.” They found that longer descriptions — up to 250 words — tend to boost the sale price.
Rascoff and Humphries also found that sellers do best when they highlight a home’s specific advantages. So if you’ve got granite counters, let the world know. At the same time, bland words like “nice” are deadly, because they suggest you don’t have anything very meaningful to say about the home.
And “cute” or “cozy”? Everyone knows that means “small.” Rascoff and Humphries also say you should avoid “unique” because homebuyers take that to mean it’s a place only a few people will love.
Property poets face some constraints, of course. You can’t write a novel, because the multiple listing services limit how many words agents can use. In the case of the New Jersey Multiple Listing Service, it’s 1,000 characters, or about 250 words, which happens to be the magic number cited by “Zillow Talk.”