Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: Think About Your MLS Descriptions

Think About Your MLS Descriptions

When a house is listed, one of the first things that needs to be done is to come up with a description of the house.  The description should be something that is going to make people say to themselves, "I must see this house!"  The description shouldn't be something where people says to themselves, "This says nothing useful."  Many listings are immediately eliminated because they don't provide the type of information the buyer is needing in order to make an informed decision to actually take the time to view the inside.

I was looking through the MLS today, and I ran across some descriptions that made me wonder why the listing agent chose such words.  Sometimes, a house is so bad that it's hard to come up with words, but you could still describe the floorplan to help someone picture it.  For the most part, I rather list the updates people have done rather than floorplan descriptions.  This is because in my market, people are low on cash, and they rather not spend too much money updating a house so they like to see that all the work has been done for them.  In a newer home, updates aren't really needed, so I describe the floorplan and features.  When looking at older homes, and the description has no updates listed, that's an immediate clue that the house is in original or bad condition and will take thousands to get it up to par.

Here is a sample of some of the descriptions I found interesting:

"Priced by single-again owner WELL BELOW MARKET VALUE."  I think this says divorce situation, seller very negotiable, come lowball me and I'll except anything to get the memories of this house out of my head.  Or, is the listing agent trying to say that he didn't set the asking price as he knows it's actually too high, so he's making sure everyone knows that the seller priced the home.

"Has security system but not hooked up."  And?  Why would you say it's not hooked up?  Thieves cruise the listings looking at house pictures in order to pick their next target.  You just made this house an easy target as they know there is no security system to worry about.

"Perfectly tailored lighting solutions for every room." Does each light have a specific inseam it needs?  Can you bring the sellers back after closing for alterations if you don't find the sleeves are long enough?

"You have to see the inside of this home to appreciate it." Don't look at the neighborhood.  I know there are cars on blocks up and down the street, but come see the inside and don't worry about those people sitting on their porch cleaning their guns.

"Ceiling fans everywhere" and "sealing fans in every room".  I'm not sure what a Sealing Fan is, but why is this an important feature to market?  It's not like those fans are made of platinum or titanium. Ceiling fans are a given in the Dallas market, so this might vary by area.

"The neighborhood park has baby swings at the playground." How does mentioning baby swings at the park make the house sound more inviting, especially if you're single with no kids? Does this really help sell the house?

Whenever I have a new listing, I email the final version to my sellers and ask them to proof it and give me their opinion.  I ask them if it sounds like a house they would buy all over again.  We make changes, together, if necessary. What are some descriptions that you see that make you cringe?

Comment balloon 48 commentsDonna Harris • July 02 2008 12:32PM

Comments

In Florida we have to be extremely careful to ensure we don't target market.  I like your having the owners sign off on the description.  That is a great idea.

Posted by Cyndi Kerr (Sandals Realty) about 10 years ago

The ones that kill me are the listings with a picture of a toilet.

Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) about 10 years ago

Donna:  I think the MLS description paragraph is extremely important when we have our listings in MLS.  And... it appears you had your comedy writers working overtime for this post.  Very cute... and very witty, to.  Thanks so much for sharing, and so glad you are staying with us at least for awhile.  Take care...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) about 10 years ago

Hi donna,

I hate when some agents just write:To Follow and never write anything for 2 weeks. I got a listing last month that was an expired listing with another agent. For the entire 6 months it was listed it said :To Follow.

Posted by Andrew Baumbach, Greater Milwaukee Real Estate (Homestead Realty Inc.) about 10 years ago

Randy... the MLS listings with a picture of a toilet go over very well in Flushing, Long Island.  :)

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) about 10 years ago

A good ad sells- thanks for letting me connect to your blog.

Bill

Posted by Bill C. Merrell, Ph.D. - Merrell Institue (Merrell Institute ~ Appraisal Education Network) about 10 years ago

Someone on AR once wrote "Sell the Sizzle" in reference to the MLS descriptions.  I completely agree with what you and he are saying.  As with every other piece of marketing material we produce, the goal is to get people to the house.  How does "Charming 3 BR, 2 Ba Ranch" accomplish that? 

Posted by Erik Hitzelberger, Louisville - Middletown Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance - Louisville REALTOR-Luxury Homes) about 10 years ago

Good Council!  Describe the home so the potential buyer can visualize it and want to see more!

Posted by Janis Trent (Realty USA Southwest, Inc) about 10 years ago

Cyndi, The problem is, people don't understand when they're target marketing.  Saying there's a great "mother-in-law" suite probably does not appeal to most men who do NOT want their in laws living with them.  Scratched off the list! LOL

Randy, Yes, there are many toilets, but at least the description passed the test in order for them to want to see the additional photos that are available.

Karen, My husband swears I'm not funny, so thank you!  And yes, we are staying in Dallas for now.  September might be a completely different story, but I'm moving forward like we're staying.

Andrew, Yes, that's very annoying.

Bill, Thank you, and you're welcome!

Erik, I hate when people mention the  bed and bath count in the actual MLS description because the bed and bath count are already there as part of the stats of the property (very different from having to write that for an online ad).  I think it just takes up too much of the description space since we're only given so many characters to use... but then again, if there is nothing good to say about the house, you need to take up space with something.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) about 10 years ago

Good advice Donna.  I would love to see a part 2 on this topic giving some more advice on what TO DO in a listing description - It's always been a weak spot for me.

Posted by Andrew Kyle, Calgary Condo Realtor (Royal LePage Foothills) about 10 years ago

Janis, Exactly!  It's about wetting their appetite and wanting more...

Andrew K, That's a good challenge.  I'll definitely have to put some thought into that.  As mentioned above, each listing gets a different type of description depending on if it's newer, older, updated or not... I'll put something together soon and keep you posted.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) about 10 years ago

Made me giggle a few times.

Posted by Greg Nino, Houston, Texas (RE/MAX Compass, formerly RE/MAX WHP) about 10 years ago

I love this blog.  I laughed pretty good.  Thanks for sharing.

Posted by John Cannata, Texas Home Mortgage - Purchase or Refinance (214-728-0449 http://TexasLoanGuy.com) about 10 years ago

Greg and John, I'm glad I could brighten up your days with a smile!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) about 10 years ago

Donna,

Can you share some descriptions you have used in the past that helped sell the properties?

Congrats on the feature!

Posted by Mike Frazier, Northwest Tennessee Realtor (Carousel Realty of Dyer County) about 10 years ago

So little words so much to say.  My favorite is still "hardwood floors throughout the whore house."  Now I'm sure they meant to say something entirely different but it did make me laugh out loud and I had to send it to everyone in my office to see.  But then again we have had a few police raids on suspected brothels.......

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 10 years ago

Thanks for the post. This is one of those things that causes a brain cramp sometimes. Fortunately with our team we have at least 3 sets of eyes/opinions on it before it gets activated in the MLS. Now with your post we'll have at least 4 sets of eyes on it, because I will implement the client review process before we activate.

Thanks!
Grant

 

Posted by Grant & Lisa Bennett (The Bennett Group - REMAX of Greensboro) about 10 years ago

Yes it is amazing how many home descriptions are lacking.  But it is hard to write something special about worn house.  That's creativity 

Posted by Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239, Michigan homes for sale ~ yesmyrealtor@gmail.com (Real Estate One) about 10 years ago

To funny made me really laugh......great post...I have said a few dumb things over the years that when I see it in print I go "what was I thinking" and then change but its amazing some that I run across.

I had a client call me the other day to explain what another agent wrote and while I did interpret it correctly we need to really remember that we are writing these things for the consumer not the agent....

Todd Hueffed

Posted by Todd Hueffed (Champions Real Estate Services) about 10 years ago

Thanks for the post Donna,

Some great thoughts. I will say some homes can be very difficult to say anything positive about, but we need to put everything in the best light.

Posted by Eric Egeland, SFR, e-PRO, CDPE (RE/MAX SUBURBAN) about 10 years ago

I view the MLS description and features the same as a job resume.  the purpose is to get you(buyer) in the door. If it did that without fabrication then you are doing your jjob.

Posted by James Lockard, Realtor, Allendale, NJ (RE/MAX Properties - Saddle River) about 10 years ago

I do have to say that most agents here do a pretty good job in writing a description for their listings but I did come across the following description on a $700,000. listing. I would think that you could come up with more info and more enthusiasm on a listing at this price.

"Almost 1 acre near the new __________ development. Great cove with beautiful sunsets. House has a pier. Excellent investment opportunity."

The real problem I have is agents not listing the assigned schools.

Posted by Teresa Harris, Denver . Lake Norman . Charlotte (Lake Real Estate, LLC) about 10 years ago

Donna - some great (well, not so great) examples of MLS descriptions. So often we see the same marketese over and over. Have to see to appreciate is one I hate. Hmm, must be lousy curb appeal? Crappy photos?

I also have my seller clients review the MLS for mistakes, typos, etc. I can review and review and STILL find mistakes. And they know the home. Great idea, as long as the information is accurate and not exaggerated.

Jeff

Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad (Solutions Real Estate ) about 10 years ago

There is a home for sale in my subdivision with the following in the description: "!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1st Prospect to see will want !!!!!!!!!!!! ".  That's all it says.  What's even sadder is that this is the 2nd agent to have this listing.  The first time DOM was 208 days, this time just 29 days, but he's already had a price reduction.

Posted by Lorrie Semler, REALTOR® in the Dallas area. Call/text 972-416-3417, Real Service. Real Results. Real Estate (United Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Donna- The descriptions that make me cringe are the ones where the agent tries to include every possible detail and ends up writing something that looks like you need a magic decoder ring, to read. 

Here's an example, using a compilation of abbreviations, taken from some MLS listings:

FRML DNG RM W FR DRS, SEP OFF OR GST WNG, LGE BKYD, NWR APPL, SF INCL FN LL.

While I'm sure we can all decode it, I can't see this type of description enticing a buyer to want to see the house.

Posted by Marilyn Katz, ABR, e-PRO - WestportCTProperties.com (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) about 10 years ago

Donna, your practice of writing the MLS text and sending it to your sellers to preview and edit is FANTASTIC!  A collaborative effort on the part of REALTOR and Sellers will help to cushion any potential glitches or frustrations down the road.  I shall be PROOFREAD my MLS texts much more carefully as a result of reading your blog. Thank you for the humorous take on this situation!

Posted by Roseann Annis (Prudential Homesale Services Group) about 10 years ago

 "Owners must relocate"  "Won't last long"  (There are no room measurements and it has been on the market for over 300 days.

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) about 10 years ago

Donna,

great post! You are so right on the money...sometimes when I read these "perennials" I cannot help but laugh hard! I would also like to comment on the DIRECTIONS...a lot of realtors do not pay attention to how they write the directions...thanks to map quest etc - lots of times I would end up in another county!

Happy Independence Day!

Posted by Bo Kociuba & Buster Elliott, HOME is Where Your Story Begins (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Anderson Properties ) about 10 years ago

Donna: Great post... wording can be a BIG part of marketing the home. I see many MLS listings with fair housing violations. 

Posted by Roland Woodworth, Q Realty - Power In Real Estate (Q Realty) about 10 years ago

Hi Donna,

I love this topic and I am sure we all have seen funny ones over the years. There is an agent in my area and for every listing this agent has the comment is the same "prepare to be impressed"

 

Angelica

Posted by Blatt + Cutino, Broker-Associate 831/206-8070*Call today* (Keller Williams Coastal Estates) about 10 years ago

Our team reviews all descriptions with our sellers to make sure we've hit all of the home's features. Still, I can see where it would be easy to fall into the old real estate cliches. Now that we know what not to put into our descriptions, what tips do you have for writing compelling descriptions?

Posted by John Novak, Henderson, Las Vegas and Summerlin Real Estate (Keller Williams Realty The Marketplace) about 10 years ago

Very interesting, great point. The descriptions are pretty good here, this post should keep us on our toes.  The problem here is in the directions...agents sometimes just write the street name in the directions area.

Posted by Caroline Y. Hampton (Blanchard and Calhoun Real Estate Company) about 10 years ago

It's all in the wow and that is what we should portray in our comments and pictures.

Posted by Pam Winterbauer, "Providing Blue Ribbon Service" (Pam Winterbauer Real Estate) about 10 years ago

Some very valid points.  It is our job to market the listing, and the mls description is an extremely important part of the marketing.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) about 10 years ago

It is interesting how descriptions are so bad at times. The ones about the dogs that "might bite" are always interesting as well.

Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) about 10 years ago

Donna,

LOL...what a great post!!! When I was selling real estate, I actually used to bring MLS printouts with me (with the agents name crossed out in magic marker). Sellers were astonished at the thought that the general public was viewing those descriptions (or lack thereof) all over the internet. And then I showed them mine.

Were mine the best?? Oh heck...hardly!!

They were, however, thought-provoking...and usually catered to the emotional side of things versus yet another verbal walkthrough of the home. I hate reading those! The listing already shows the square footage, how many bedrooms, baths, etc., but I often read MLS descriptions that start like this "When entering this 2,012 square foot home, one sees the formal living room, followed by the dining room, and then the kitchen."   Um yeah...we kinda figured that. And thank you for at least spelling dining room with only one "N" versus "dinning", which I see on every fourth MLS description I read. ::: smirk :::

It's okay to say things like "This is the kind of home where memories were meant to be created, shared and treasured for years to come."

It imparts a feeling of "being home". Of having found somewhere to call your very own even if it is only 1,130 square feet. Know what I mean?

Hmmm...we already do this on our flyers...I wonder if there's a market for writing MLS descriptions??? Never thought of that! LOL!

Great post! Enjoyed your sense of humor too!!

Dave


Posted by David Daniels (Owner of FlyersToYou, Inc. and former Top Realtor) about 10 years ago

Words like cozy always say ...too small to change your mind in this room...bring your decorating ideas...(remove the shag carpeting and pink bathroom tile) We have too mnay prolific sellers, if we ran the copy past them, the house would be sold before they finished their 52nd re-write on the description.

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) about 10 years ago

Great post, and yes, the MLS description is very important

I work in Treasure Island, Madeira beach, St. Pete beach area. nearly all my listings are "walking distance to the beach" and I cringe every-time I have to add it to yet another listing in the MLS, but people need to know. So, I think I am very creative but this one sentence just haunts me.

what do you think about this one?

http://www.imagemaker360.com/81288

Anne Hensel

Real Estate Broker ABR, E-PRO,

C-CREC, TRC, ASR, RECS, AHS

St. Petersburg Florida

www.AnneHensel.com

 

Posted by Anne Hensel, Realtor - Broker - St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island (South Beaches Real Estate Professionals) about 10 years ago

Donna - I also wonder what folks are thinking when they write...  My favorite is "This Home Won't Last" and it's been on the market for a year!

Posted by Debbie Summers (Charles Rutenberg Realty ) about 10 years ago

I always try to write pleaseant words in my listing description that lead the reader to one of their five senses (vison, smell, taste, touch, hear). By leading the reader on a journey like this they can almost sense what the property is like and they want more!

Posted by Brad Correll (Dream Homes Realty) about 10 years ago

One of my least favorite descriptions occurs when someone refers to a "hugh" backyard or deck, rather than "huge".    This is very common here -

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) about 10 years ago

Jason,

LOL...is that related to Huge Grant, the actor??

Posted by David Daniels (Owner of FlyersToYou, Inc. and former Top Realtor) about 10 years ago

A well thought out, well written agent & internet description is critical in today's more challenging market.  I've run across some listings that make me wonder, what the heck was the agent thinking?  There is no way that they could think that the verbiage used is helpful to selling the property.

PS. Spell check is a required tool for every listing!

Posted by AJ Heidmann ~ CRS, YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert (McEnearney Associates, Inc.) about 10 years ago

Thanks to everyone for their comments.  I had a very busy Holiday weekend and didn't have time to respond to everyone, so I wanted to give this generic "Thank you" for taking the time to comment.  I will be putting some thought into another post about what phrases should be used, and I'll post an update here when it's complete.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) about 10 years ago

Good advice, Donna.  We really need to think more about the words we use to describe our listings.  Thanks for sharing!  :)

Posted by Debi Ernst, GRI, e-PRO, Broker/Sales Associate (St. Charles County, Missouri - Prudential Alliance Realtors) about 10 years ago

What about:

"will entertain all offers, even those found by other agents to be entertaining."

Posted by Bill Petrey (AgentHarvest - A Real Estate Agent Finder Service) over 8 years ago

Really Rotten Realty recently created a MLS description generator to make fun of all the horrible MLS descriptions out there.  It's called the Robo-Descriptor 9000 - Automated MLS Description Generator. 

 

Here's a link to the site:  http://www.reallyrottenrealty.com/blog/robo-descriptor-9000-mls-description-generator/

Posted by Bill Petrey almost 7 years ago

I see less and less of those. Yet, I see a lot of properties, even among high end, with little or no description at all.

Posted by Inna Ivchenko, Realtor® • Green • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA (Barcode Properties) about 3 years ago

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