Real estate can be an exhilarating profession. But because it’s a transaction-based industry, it requires significant investment in lead generation. Effective sales and commercial real estate marketing are critical to any real estate company’s success.
There are two ways to think about finding real estate leads. Traditional real estate advertising focuses on outbound leads, which involves targeted prospecting to hone in on qualified leads. These days, more companies are investing in inbound marketing strategies, using tools that bring leads directly to you.
One of the most effective forms of inbound marketing is knowing how to write an effective property description.
At first glance, it may seem obvious: finding real estate leads requires you to write high-quality property descriptions. It also seems easy. Simply write a few statements about the real estate that you’re trying to advertise. But truth be told, so many people get the property description wrong.
Let’s start with the basics. What’s the purpose of a property description? A property description is the written portion of a real estate listing that describes the real estate for sale or lease. Nowadays, the majority of buyers begin their property search online, so real estate descriptions are often the only chance you’ll have to sway buyers and sellers.
A typical property description has three components: basic details about the property (e.g., property size, square footage, location), a description about the property (this is where you can get the most creative), and pictures of the subject property. Collectively, these three components should be used to woo your audience.
Importantly, even if a buyer is not in the market for real estate at that given point in time, the property descriptions that bare your name online can be used as a tool for future real estate lead generation. Someone who is impressed with your listing may contact you about a purchase or sale opportunity down the line. So remember: when you’re writing a property description, it’s not only to influence existing buyers and sellers, but also to help generate new real estate leads in the future.
How to Write a Property Description
Just because you’ve found a client, doesn’t mean that client is your for keeps. Once you have a listing, your contract is typically structured for a set period of time. If you don’t deliver results during that time, the client is free to engage another company moving forward. That’s why it’s so important to put together a rock-solid marketing package from day one, and writing an effective property description is a critical component to that end.
This is what to include in your property description, not only to impress your existing clients, but to help generate new real estate leads:
Headline / Title
Many people searching for real estate will just skim the headlines of a listing. This gives you about one line and three seconds to grab their attention. The best way to do so is through a captivating headline or title. Let’s look at a few examples:
Example 1: Philadelphia-Style Two-Family for Sale in Davis Square with Patio & Off-Street Parking
Example 2: 7,500 SF Mixed-Use Income Property in Malden for Sale at 8% Cap Rate
Example 3: Ten Unit Building for Sale
Example 4: Land for Sale, Call Today!
If you were skimming these headlines, which would you be drawn to? The first two examples are obviously more detailed. One of the benefits in being so specific is that it helps you identify and target qualified buyers. Someone interested in owner-occupying a two-family home will be drawn to the first property description and not the second. Serious investors will appreciate how specific you’ve been in the headline of Example 2. Examples 3 and 4 are a missed opportunity to showcase your listings – there’s nothing here that makes them stand out, starting with a lack of location.
In fact, Example 4 is so vague that it really doesn’t tell you anything about the listing. From the headline alone, we have no idea whether this is a residential or commercial opportunity – perhaps it’s neither! We don’t know the land’s size or its development potential. It comes across as an ad written by a novice real estate broker or even the actual property owner, someone who may have no real experience selling property at all.
They say that first impressions are everything, and the headline is your chance to make a great first impression. Be sure to craft titles that are specific, powerful and accurate if you want to generate serious real estate leads.
After the headline, you’ll want to compile a list of details about the property. This section, known as “property information,” is a list of facts about the listing. There really isn’t much subjectivity in this section.
At a minimum, this section should include the property type and property facts.
- Property type: This is your chance to describe the property starting with type: Residential, Office, Retail, Industrial, etc. You can also further clarify by stating the condition of the property by qualifying that type as “Class A” (the highest-end category) or Class B or C – terms that are often used when describing a type of commercial real estate. For residential real estate, you’ll want to specify whether the property type is single family, a duplex, a multifamily, or land zoned for residential development.
- Property facts: This section will give an overview of the building measurements, such as square footage, number of units and acreage. It should also state what year the property was built, the assessed value, and tax rate. If the subject property is income producing, be sure to list net and gross income in this section, as well as operating expenses and perhaps even an overview of the rent roll. These are all figures that serious investors will want to know.
The body of a property description is written like a narrative, and when done properly, should be written like a love letter about the listing. This is how you tell the “story” of the property, focusing on all of the good aspects of the property and downplaying—but not ignoring—the property’s pitfalls.
For example, you might point out that this is a meticulously maintained home that has been in the same family for generations. It has been lovingly cared for, with lush gardens and spot-free interior. If this seems like a great family home, you might point out multiple bedrooms for children, space for entertaining, and the backyard that is perfect for summer BBQs.
But say the kitchen hasn’t been touched in 41 years. Do you point that out? Sure, you can, but subtly. Talk about the home having value-add potential: “Oversized kitchen awaits your inspiration and personal touches!” is a kind way of saying that the kitchen will need to be renovated.
The property details should also include information about the property style (e.g., Victorian, craftsman, bungalow), the neighborhood and nearby attractions, recent renovations (if any) and the surrounding environment.
Remember: an effective property description isn’t just about selling a piece of property. It’s about selling an entire lifestyle, so understanding the neighborhood and surrounding area is critical. Be sure to point out local landmarks, transit access, proximity to major highways, nearby parks and playgrounds, retail destinations – all of these features matter to the discerning buyer.
We hate to sound cliché, but it’s true: a picture is worth a thousand words. The photos you include in your property description can have a major impact on generating real estate leads. Photos help give additional perspective about a property. In residential real estate, photos can be used to help a person image living there. In commercial real estate, photos help buyers understand the marketability of the space when trying to lure tenants.
In any event, photos make deep impressions on property description viewers – so take your photos seriously.
Typically, we recommend hiring a real estate photographer. It’s a relatively small investment (usually only a few hundred dollars) that can easily be recaptured if it helps a property sell for thousands of dollars more. A real estate photographer will know how to capture the space in the best light, highlighting the property’s best features. These photographs can be used in the property description, but can also be used in print materials when advertising the listing in newspapers, magazines and in brochures handed out during open houses.
Increasingly, in addition to property photos, we’re seeing brokers use 3D property tours to generate real estate leads. Advances in virtual and augmented reality have made it easier than ever to bring a property to life. These tours can be uploaded into a property description, usually following the property photos, and allow a person to navigate the interior of a property as though they were there in real time.
Call to Action
No property description is complete without a thoughtful call to action. How do you want the prospect to follow up? Is it by attending an open house? Or would you prefer them contact you, the listing agent? Whatever the case may be, be specific with your call to action. This is the critical real estate lead generation of a property description.
Property Description Examples
Let’s take a look at a few different commercial property descriptions by way of example. Both are properties currently on the market in Oakland, California. See if you can spot some major differences between the two listings.
Property Description #1:
Property Description #2:
Both of these properties are multifamily properties listed for sale. The listings are intended to generate real estate leads, most likely in the form of more sophisticated real estate investors.
But right off the bat, we notice a few differences between these listings.
A Bad Property Description
The first property description, for the project called “The Echo” is missing a ton of information. It shows a beautiful rendering of a potential mixed-use project, which is somewhat misleading to buyers. Is this a land sale only? Or has this project been permitted already? The property description is silent on the issue.
In fact, there’s really no property description here at all. Had it not been for the pretty image, we probably would have skipped over this listing altogether. (See, images do matter!). But once we got into the meat of the listing, we saw that there’s no real information about the deal (and that was the only image included).
The attached flyer contains much more pertinent information, such as a property summary and comments about the project (e.g., the project is approved for a 5-story multifamily/commercial building with garage parking for 46 cars). Yet, we wouldn’t have known that if we didn’t peruse the attachment. It’s important for these details to be included IN the property description.
Compare this to Property Description #2, which has significantly more information.
A Good Property Description
The property description for 376 Staten Ave. is much more useful. Right off the bat, we know that this is a 12-unit multifamily property for sale in Oakland’s Adams Point neighborhood. The property is fully occupied, with a 16.1 gross rent multiplier and a 4.11% cap rate. These details are critical when trying to generate new leads among real estate investors.
As you can see, all basic information about the property has been included in the property information section.
The property details have also been clearly laid out. The property description details the mix of units (four studios, seven one-bedroom units, and one two-bedroom unit). We’re being told that the property has extensive remodeling throughout, which reflects “the pride of ownership quality.” We know what amenities are included on-site, and can see that the property has been managed professionally by a third party company.
In addition to attaching a general flyer about the property, the broker has also included a copy of the rent roll and 2017 P&L – two documents that will help generate qualified real estate leads. This type of information allows a prospect to do his initial due diligence before contacting the broker, so those who do contact the broker are more likely to be serious buyers.
At the end of Property Description #2, the agent includes a direct call to action: “CALL FOR OFFER,” he writes, with his phone number below.
The second property description hit all the major highlights, from leading with an engaging headline to including multiple photos, to offering up a robust description of the property. This is a great example of how to prepare your property descriptions if you’re looking to generate new real estate leads.
A little preparation can go a long way when it comes to writing a property description. A piece of that is tracking down accurate data about the property for lease or for sale. Reonomy can be a great tool when writing property descriptions and generating real estate leads. Contact us to learn more today!