Writing a property description is part art, part skill and part pixie dust. Over the years, I’ve found that it is the single writing task that my clients dread the most, yet it is the one they run into again and again.

While you may not yet be an expert at writing property descriptions, you can certainly avoid some of the biggest mistakes and pitfalls. Avoid these five common problems, and you’ll instantly improve your next listing.

1. Not writing one at all

Some people argue that no one reads the property descriptions and that great photos are all that matters. In reality, of course, people use property descriptions to help them understand what they are seeing in the photos and to learn more about the home and the community.

Whether you are working with an MLS description of 500 characters or have virtually unlimited space, you owe it to your clients to use every available avenue to provide meaningful information as you market their property.

2. Repeating yourself

We’ve all seen those property descriptions that simply repeat information found elsewhere in the listing. “1,642 sq ft 3 br 2 ba. Won’t last long!” The MLS description is valuable marketing real estate (no pun intended), so it should be used to provide information that doesn’t appear elsewhere on the page.

Share something special about the house, the neighborhood amenities or the proximity of the house to other features in the area. Talk about something that you can’t see in the photos — the beautiful view from the kitchen window, for instance, or the short walk to the neighborhood clubhouse.

3. Burying the lede

This is one of the first things I wrote about for Inman and it still holds true: There’s no point in keeping the best for last when it comes to marketing and content. Start out with something exciting and unique about the property, something that buyers in your area are looking for, to grab their attention and keep them reading.

Generic information about the area, the building or the community makes buyers think that you’re downplaying the property itself. Tell them something great about the home right up front so that it gets added to their shortlist.

4. Saying too much

While many agents struggle with a too-short MLS character limit, others have virtually no limit at all. Unfortunately, this leads to MLS entries featuring endless descriptions that go on far longer than any buyer could possibly want to read or process.

Some agents use this space to cut and paste an article about the home, building or neighborhood from the local newspaper or write blog-length articles about the home. That’s not what buyers are looking for. They want a thorough synopsis of the features that are most compelling so that they can decide whether to visit the home in person.

5. Failing to proofread

Oh, the fun-filled descriptions that come about when agents don’t proofread their property descriptions. I recall one home in my old neighborhood whose biggest selling point was the kitchen with its “spacious panties.” Just this week I saw a home in my client’s market featuring a “heated pook.”

While these types of errors are fun reading for us, they’re not so great for the seller. Proofread your copy and, if possible, get a second person to do so as well. Putting your best foot forward means taking the time to ensure that your description is readable and accurate.

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