Home listing words matter indeed, says a recent story in the Wall Street Journal. Each property characteristic, especially one that can be verified, translates into a higher sale price. Factual statement words like “granite countertop,” “full bath on main floor,” and “three-car garage” increase the sales price. So do positive opinion words like “beautiful” or “fabulous”.
Home listings with the right description sell for a premium, according to Bennie Waller, professor of finance and real estate at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., who studied the makeup of listings. He calculated that a listing with 15 additional property characteristics sell roughly for a 13.5% premium.
While the professor may be reaching a bit with these percentages, home listing words matter. This is especially true when the allowable number of characters to describe a home is 500 characters including spaces. That’s the limit set by the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) and it equates to about 75 to 85 words.
With this in mind, let’s look at the home listing words of three listings. All of them are located in Redmond, all sold quickly and all sold above list price.
Written for other agents
- Listed for $579,000
- Sold for $611,000, 5.36% above list
- Six days on the market
Superb Rose Hill location! Rare opportunity to own this beautifully Murray Franklin 3 bedroom home in this quiet cul-de-sac surrounded by greenbelt and park. Just minutes to Microsoft, Downtown Kirkland and Redmond. Coveted updated finishes include hardwood floors, slab granite counters, fabulous stainless steel appliances, tiled master shower and guest bath, gas dryer and more. Impressive vaulted ceilings, formal living and dining room with a great room and deck off the kitchen. A must see! (497 characters, 76 words)
This is written for local agents instead for the general public. Out-of-town buyers looking on the Web may not know Rose Hill, much less have they heard of Murray Franklin. Words describing the location are important but there’s too much of it. Still, the agent manages to get in a good number of verifiable facts and positive adjectives like “fabulous” and “impressive”.
Mention features, but avoid jargon
- Listed for $599,000
- Sold for $624,100, 4.19% above list
- Five days on the market
Pristine, sunlit 2-story with tasteful updates, cathedral ceilings & generous picture windows. Living room with soaring ceilings opens to the dining room, perfect for entertaining. Kitchen with striking slab granite, island with breakfast bar, stainless appliances, walk-in pantry & eating nook with a slider to the patio. Family room open to the kitchen with gas fireplace. Master with updated tile bathroom & walk-in closet. Fully fenced yard with entertainment patio. Ideal cul-de-sac location. (497 characters, 73 words)
This description is written more for the prospective buyer than other agents, and that’s a good thing. In contrast to the above listing, this one describes the location only as “ideal cul-de-sac location” but forgets to mention Redmond. There are plenty of facts and positive adjectives, some in combination such as “striking slab granite”. To my ears it sounds a bit too much like real estate jargon.
Quick tour through the home
- Listed for $560,000
- Sold for $627,000, 12% above list
- Six days on the market
Redmond home for sale: plenty of space make this 2011 totally & tastefully renovated 5-bedroom home a must see. The downstairs welcomes you into a light-filled open space, stretching from the living room past the gourmet kitchen and eating space to the family room. Conveniently located on the same level are an office and bedroom with full bath. Take the stairs to the upstairs where you’ll find 2 full baths & 4 bedrooms, including the master. All this is just a five-minute drive from Microsoft. (499 characters, 85 words)
The above is for one of my Redmond listings. There is one thing that sets my listing descriptions apart from most others: Instead of sentence fragments, I use actual sentences. I aim to take the reader on a brief tour of the home, describing the relationship of rooms and spaces. Along the way, I convey the facts and characteristics.
As the story in the Wall Street Journal put it: “It’s not what real estate agents say, it’s the way they say it.”
This was first published as the 40th issue of The View from the Street.