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SOLD! How To Write Real Estate Ads That Sell Properties Fast

Headlines That SellIf you’re doing business in real estate, one of the greatest skills you can acquire is the ability to write compelling property listings that sell properties quickly.

The idea of “Selling” is something that scares a lot of people out of real estate. I used to hate the idea of being a “salesman” because of all the negative connotations that went along with it (in my mind, anyway). When I finally came to the realization that selling is a MUST for any successful real estate investor – I had to start facing the issue head on (rather than running from it).

What I eventually found was that selling real estate was actually a lot of fun! After selling several properties in my first year as an investor, I discovered that I had grossly misinterpreted what it meant to promote listings and get properties sold. What I assumed would be an awkward and annoying process, turned out to be a GREAT way for me to tap into my inner skills as a writer.

In my experience, most properties are quite capable of selling themselves, but ONLY IF you’ve priced it right, you’ve promoted it adequately and you’ve created a listing that clearly communicates why your property is the deal of a lifetime (and why your buyers would be absolutely crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity).

Stop Trying To Look Like Everyone Else

Most of us have a lot of pre-conceived notions about what a property listing is supposed to look like. We’ve all browsed through plenty of other listings before and we’ve subconsciously told ourselves, “Well…  I guess that’s what my listing is supposed to look like too.”

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If you want to learn how to write real estate ads well, the fact of the matter is you don’t need to look like everyone else. In fact…  looking  like everyone else is one of the worst things you can do. If you create listings that blend in with the crowd, people will ignore you. Looking “average” is one of the best ways to be forgettable and NOT get noticed by the masses.

That being said, I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t easy to think outside the box and be original! It’s not naturally intuitive for most of us to be different/creative and that’s why so many listings are so boring and uninspiring. Don’t get me wrong, some of the well-established tactics out there do work, but most people aren’t clear on which tactics work and why. In order for me to show you how to write listings well, we need to hit the “Reset” button and start from square one.

Every Good Listing Has A Good Structure

Similar to a well-written college paper, a good listing needs to follow a certain order and have the right “flow” to it. Mine are usually laid out like this: Listing Layout1 Let’s talk about what components live inside each of these items…

Headline

When you’re posting your property on websites like CraigslistBackpage, or eBay Classifieds, it is imperative that your listing has an eye-catching headline that looks different. Your headline is an extremely important part of your listing because in most cases, this is literally your only shot at getting a buyer to notice you, so you’d better find a way to stand out from the crowd. Remember, you only have a split second to catch someone’s attention and engage them into clicking on your listing – so this kind of first impression is EVERYTHING…   I’m not kidding!

What are the positives and negatives of the property you’re trying to sell? Can you make it funny? Can you say something that will make people do a double-take? Can you make your headline stick out like a sore thumb among all the other boring listings in your market? Take a look at this listing I recently posted on Craigslist:

Noticable Headline1 What do you think? Does my headline look different enough to catch your attention? Does it stand out from the other headlines around it? As you can see, it’s not rocket science. You just have to use your brain for a few extra seconds. Try to be just obnoxious enough to get noticed.

You don’t need to lie. You don’t need to exaggerate. You don’t need to price it at 50% of market value. You just need to get people’s attention and give them a reason to click on your listing (even if it’s out of sheer curiosity). Note: It obviously doesn’t hurt to include a picture (which will be displayed as a thumbnail) and a good price point to go along with your headline.

Opening Statement

The first sentence of my listing gets right to the point of what the real estate ad is all about. The idea is to immediately inform my readers of what they’re looking at. In this first section, you could say something like:

You’ll love this gorgeous 2-story home located just 3 blocks from Parkside Elementary in downtown Coopersville.

or

Come see this charming ranch with an open floor plan and breathtaking panoramic views of Cedar Springs!

As you can see – we’re simply answering the reader’s most pressing initial question (i.e. – “What am I looking at?”) and to giving them a reason to keep reading.

Narrative Description of Features

This is where the real fun begins. The idea in this section is to do two things:

1. Talk about the primary features of the property, such as:

  • Number of Bedrooms/Bathrooms
  • Square Footage of the Building
  • Size of the Property (typically in acres)
  • Location/Neighborhood/Schools
  • Garage (if any), Number of Stalls
  • Extras, e.g. – Pool, Patio, Yard, Deck, Fireplace, etc.
  • Any Recent Updates or Renovations, e.g. – windows, doors, appliances
  • Any Unique Characteristics, e.g. – scenic overlook, basketball court, lakefront lot

2. Describe the Property in a Compelling and Inspiring Way

Words can do an AMAZING job of selling real estate (or anything else, for that matter). Did you know that there are copywriters in the world who get paid over $150,000 to write one piece of sales copy?? There is SERIOUS VALUE in your ability to write well – so don’t lose sight of the fact that your words can be extremely powerful when used correctly and this is your opportunity to use them to your advantage. For example, I’d like you to compare & contrast these two property listings:

Example 1 – Typical Listing:

new furnace, air conditioning unit. all appliances includes. Huge deck off back of home. walk out in basement to back yard which is fenced in. Lots of updates done. 1 stall attached garage with finished breezeway.

Example 2 - Well-Written Listing:

You’ll love this charming, 2-story cottage with spectacular panoramic views of Otter Lake. This 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with a 2-stall garage will give you 1,700 sq ft of generous space to move about (without losing that quaint, cozy atmosphere when it’s time to cuddle up by the fireplace with a good book). Wake up each morning to awe-inspiring sunrises in the East and drift off to sleep each night with the tranquil sounds of nature. Situated in a friendly community with an award-winning school system on the outskirts of Allegan County, just thirty minutes from the magnificent City of Grand Ledge.

emotionAs you can probably see – these two examples are not created equal. It takes real effort to be creative and think of descriptive words that will actually make your property sound appealing. Most people don’t have the patience (or they just don’t care enough) to go the extra mile in this area, but putting forth this extra effort can make a HUGE difference in the way buyers perceive your property.

Some people will find that they excel in the area of “creative writing” pretty naturally. Others will find that it’s a major struggle. Not everyone is gifted with the same ability to find words that create amazing mental imagery like this…   so if you fall into this camp, don’t worry. At the bottom of this blog post, you’ll have a chance to get your hands on a TON of my marketing materials that will make this whole process a lot easier for you…   so keep reading.

Special Promotion

This item won’t always apply to your listing – but if (for whatever reason) your goal is to get a property sold FAST, this is your opportunity to give your readers that little extra “nudge” towards taking action. I always try to envision the typical buyer who is looking at my listing. In many cases they are very interested, but they need that extra little bump to pick up the phone and call me. Some examples of a “special promotion” could be any of the following:

  • Offering Seller Financing on the property
  • For a limited time, offering to pay for 100% of the buyer’s closing costs
  • Offering to sell the property in the form of a lease purchase or rent-to-own
  • For a limited time, offering a small discount from the listed price

Get creative with it! Feel free to add whatever incentive you think will open the door to more potential buyers (and of course, keep it within the confines of the law :). Just to give you a quick example, whenever I offer Seller Financing on my properties, I’ll say something like this:

Please note that this property is also available to purchase with optional Seller Financing. For a small down payment and monthly installments of approx $___, you can own this property WITHOUT talking to a bank!

Closing Statement & Call To Action

This is where you wrap it up and tell your readers what to do. Don’t be afraid to ratchet up the sense of urgency and remind them of the very real possibility that this is the last chance they’ll ever have to buy this property.

Here’s an example:

This property is only available to the buyer who acts NOW. Stop reading and start calling: ***-***-****

Why are you still reading this?? CALL NOW! 

Don’t Hype

There is a fine line between painting a positive word picture about your property and overselling/hyping your property. I know – I’m telling you to show off how great your property is and it can be tempting to overstate the “greatness” of it.

The fact is, most people know B.S. when they see it. If you come blasting out of the gate with claims about your property that are clearly embellished or just outright false, you’re not going to fool anyone. At best, you’ll seriously tarnish your reputation in your market and you might even create some new enemies along the way – so don’t go there.

The trick to selling is not to “trick” anyone. The goal is to be very clear about why your property is an amazing opportunity and if it’s communicated the right way (and if your asking price is in-line), you can help a lot of people “connect-the-dots” and realize that your property is exactly what they need.

The most successful sales people know how to convey this information seamlessly and effectively, all while catering to the emotional needs of their buyers. Don’t oversell it. Don’t make it into something it’s not. Just describe your property and it’s features in a way that will help buyers see the greatness of it. Help them to picture themselves in your property and come to the conclusion that it’s the best decision they can make.

Want To See The Exact Listings I Use?

As I explained above – I have no doubt that you are FULLY CAPABLE of creating your own listings that will make your properties get noticed and sound amazing. I’ve tried to outline my process for you above (and include some small excerpts throughout) so you can get a feel for how I approach this.

At the same time…

I completely understand that we weren’t all born with the “creative gene” to effortlessly whip up these kinds of listings in 60 seconds. While we’re all capable, this kind of thing doesn’t always come easy (and some of us just don’t care enough to go the extra mile here). I get it - I really do. With this in mind, I’ve taken the time to put together a fast and easy solution for those of you who need ideas & inspiration that you can easily implement into your own listings.

Here’s What I Want To Give You:

  • 30 Attention-Grabbing Headlines That Are Carefully Engineered To Get Noticed
  • 10 Property Description Templates Designed To Make Properties Sound Irresistible
  • 180 Powerful Adjectives That Will Boost The Desirability Of Your Property
  • Brief Video Tutorial On How To Write An Effective Property Listing
  • Short Guide On How To Use These Tools To Create Listings That Sell Properties Fast

If you want to see an example of how I use the Headlines & Listings Pack, you can watch as I integrate it into this sample property listing:

Again, there’s nothing particularly “magical” about these resources or the words I use. I’ve just invested a lot of time and energy into creating listings that blow my competition out of the water   and I want YOU to do the same thing.  For a limited time, I’m going to give this material away FOR FREE to the first 15 people who can do the following:

  1. Share this post via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn
  2. Leave a comment below and specifically request this material from me

I won’t be able to manually respond to these requests forever – but I do want to give some of the “raving fans” of the REtipster Blog a shot at getting this stuff for free. Just follow steps 1 & 2 above I’ll do my best to email it to you within 24 hours after I receive your comment.

UPDATE: If you think this kind of material would be helpful to you as you’re creating  your future property listings – I want to make this FULL package instantly available to you right here. This little arsenal of proven ad copy has the to power to transform your real estate ads and give your sales efforts a MAJOR boost over the long-term.

If you’re serious about getting properties sold sooner rather than later – I’d encourage you to make this small investment (which is easily worth 50x the price tag shown below – no exaggeration). Fell free to copy and/or edit each sample listing to fit your needs (or just use it as inspiration to create your own masterpieces). If you’re ready to take your real estate listings to the next level, you can get started right now…

Headlines & Listings Pack

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{ 31 comments… add one }

  • Virginia December 28, 2013, 7:16 am

    Great article and really helpful. I tweeted this and I’d love to get the package you put together.

    • Seth Williams December 28, 2013, 9:19 am

      Hi Virginia, thanks for your feedback! I’ll send you the materials shortly.

  • michelle finnamore December 28, 2013, 10:24 am

    Hi Seth, I work with many agents in different offices and this is something that many agents wonder about, how to get their listing noticed. You have pulled together so many great examples above, would love to get the rest of the information. Here is a link to a video that was produced by Sage Real Estate in Toronto. Definitely fits the bill for thinking outside the box when it comes to online video marketing .
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvKzGua68O4

    • Seth Williams December 28, 2013, 10:23 pm

      Hey Michelle! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. It sounds like this post was pretty relevant to the agents you work with, which is awesome! I’ll send you the materials shortly.

  • Wayne Harriman December 28, 2013, 10:24 am

    Nicely done and well said, Seth! I’d also love to get the package you’ve put together!

  • Neil Dentith December 28, 2013, 10:38 am

    This was very helpful thank you

  • Travis Parker December 28, 2013, 11:00 am

    VERY good info! C/p for the next time I List a property (SHOULD be tomorrow afternoon). Also, Tweeted & would appreciate the List you mentioned.
    Thanks,
    Travis

    • Seth Williams December 28, 2013, 10:28 pm

      Thanks Travis, glad you found it helpful! Check you inbox – the materials have been emailed to you.

  • Hector Reyes December 28, 2013, 12:44 pm

    I love your article. I tweet it and im following you now on Twitter.
    I would love to be one of the 15 that will get the package.

    • Seth Williams December 28, 2013, 10:29 pm

      Thanks Hector! I appreciate the Tweet. :) I will be sending you the package in the next 60 seconds.

      All the best!
      Seth

  • George Stroud December 28, 2013, 5:01 pm

    Great article. I gave you a tweet and a Google+. Could I get a copy of the package, also?

    • Seth Williams December 28, 2013, 10:31 pm

      Much appreciated George – thanks for stopping by and tweeting this blog post for me! I’ll send you the package in just a few minutes. Keep an eye out for it!

  • David M. Childress December 28, 2013, 7:36 pm

    Nice writing. I shared on Twitter and Google+

  • Cecile December 29, 2013, 11:31 am

    Are you sending any more packages? I would certainly like to have one since the info would be very helpful.

    • Seth Williams December 29, 2013, 12:45 pm

      Hi Cecile – thanks for the comment, you’re not too late! I’ll send it to you shortly.

  • Moses Yoon January 3, 2014, 12:17 am

    You should look up Tom Hopkins and Richard Fenton

    • Seth Williams January 5, 2014, 1:56 pm

      Thanks for the suggestions Moses. I’ve looked up both and they look like awesome resources for selling!

  • Lisaan Derson January 3, 2014, 1:50 am

    Hi…I am reading your articles. Thanks for sharing this informative post.

  • andrew castro May 9, 2014, 11:28 am

    great read good tips

  • Ethel July 10, 2014, 1:57 pm

    Hi Seth
    I LOVE this article! Is it too late to post on Twitter and still get the package? I’d love to have it, this article has already been so helpful, I’d like to see what the package has.

    • Seth Williams July 10, 2014, 1:59 pm

      Hi Ethel – thanks, I’m glad you like it! All you need to do is sign up for my email list and I’ll send you a link where you can download the entire package for free.

      Hope that helps!
      Seth

  • Mary Jo August 9, 2014, 6:10 pm

    Hey Seth! I’m not an agent, but a homeowner frustrated with my areas local lazy agents. An agent set the price (we went for their middle of the road price) but nobody ever showed it. So we are firing our agent. Can I get a free packet to help me sell my own home?

    • Seth Williams August 11, 2014, 9:55 pm

      Hi Mary, absolutely! All you need to do is sign up for the email list and you’ll get a link where you can download the whole thing for free.

      Thanks for your interest!

  • Chuck Helsel August 11, 2014, 4:39 pm

    Seth, A very well thought out and written article for Agents to Promote their listings. I’m surprised that most listings follow the same dry format. Taking more time to write like a “copywriter” or following your structure, for their listing would get more attention.
    I’m in the lending business and most agents and qualified buyers don’t know there is financing to $850K with only 5% down. I have looked at hundreds of listings above $750K. None reference to “only 5% down.” Any suggestion to a listing agent to use this unique opportunity to attract more buyers? Thanks again for your article and your time, Chuck

    • Seth Williams August 11, 2014, 9:52 pm

      Hi Chuck – thanks for sharing! I’m curious what kind of interest rate are you charging for only 5% down? That sounds like a pretty sweet deal for those who don’t want to tie up cash.

      In terms of how to use the same writing technique for your product – you could really apply the same kinds of strategies. How can you catch a reader’s attention in a world of bland & boring headlines? What kinds of funny or obnoxious pictures would be impossible to ignore? Any good videos you could put together?

      You can use this article I wrote for Inman Next as some inspiration if you need more ideas: http://www.inman.com/next/use-this-clever-little-trick-to-win-big-with-paid-real-estate-advertising/

      Good luck!
      Seth

  • Jonathan Riley August 16, 2014, 10:06 pm

    Hi Seth
    I am new to real estate and have been a buyers agent since I started. I am just now getting started doing listing and I am not even close to being a creative writer. I was curious if your package was still available .. Thank you

    • Seth Williams August 16, 2014, 10:14 pm

      Hi Jonathan, absolutely! All you need to do is sign up for the REtipster Club (my email newsletter). You’ll get an automated email with a link where you can download the whole thing for free.

      Hope that helps!

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