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“The roof leaks, the floor creaks, and there’s a terrible draft.” “Carpet older than the average TikTok user.” These are just some of the ways Philippa Main, an agent with Future Home Realty, describes some of the properties she sells in Tampa Bay — a technique that certainly catches the eye of buyers far and wide.
Back in February, the 30-year-old Realtor’s description calling a dilapidated two-bedroom home in Zephyrhillis, Florida, “the worst house on the street” went viral and appeared on “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show.” The house sold relatively quickly and, after the listing’s success, the 30-year-old agent put out another one for a mint green two-bedroom property Saint Petersburg property listed for $150,000.
“For the avid collector of fine antiques, run don’t walk to this 2 bed, 1 bath home because this property features an abundance of 1960s features you don’t want to miss,” Main writes. “For example, it includes an original electrical fuse panel (likely unsafe but full of vintage charm), carpet older than the average TikTok user, and a kitchen that hasn’t been updated since the home was built! Make sure you bring the Tiffany & Co. lover in your life though, because this home’s robins egg bathroom is perfect for them with matching blue toilet, tub, sink, and not one but TWO soap dishes.”
While this property has not yet garnered the same national hype as the “worst house on the street,” Main sees these descriptions as a way of drawing attention to properties that are otherwise either unremarkable or in pretty bad condition. Her number one strategy is to talk to the sellers before getting creative so they’re not hurt or unpleasantly surprised when the listing hits the internet — but since she will list “pretty much anything, even if it’s falling down (or should be torn down),” many are only too happy to see their agent have fun with it. After going viral, Main also finds herself getting asked to advise brokerages on how to write creative listing descriptions.
“When I can tell that a home would be well-suited to having a funny listing description written about it, I first always ask the seller if it’s ok to go a non-traditional route with the listing,” Main told Inman. “Then I list out all of the important things I want to make sure people know about the home, because it ultimately still has to be an accurate description and helpful to potential buyers, otherwise I’m not doing my job properly.”
After that, Main starts writing out potential jokes and making draft versions of the final descriptions. The key, Main said, is to not ignore imperfections but to approach them with humor — potential buyers will know what they’re getting into but tend to be less critical of it. Amid a nationwide inventory shortage and explosion of people looking to build, some may actually be looking for dilapidated homes they can quickly tear down and get building.
“Now I know what you’re thinking… Tiffanys? Diamonds?, Is this home THE diamond of the season?!” Main writes in the description of the Saint Petersburg home. “The answer is No … But it COULD be with the right renovation! And if you’re already worrying about preparing for hurricane season, don’t be, because several windows in this home are already boarded shut from the inside.”
Main also says there is a fine line between being funny and being outright disrespectful; she advises against any swearing or crude comments about things like bodily functions. Key words should also always be included since, even if you write the most clever description in the world, it won’t be seen if you don’t include the right search items. Otherwise, she advises agents to (after asking for permission from the owners) have a little fun — in what can be an ultra-serious and ultra-competitive market, the unconventional technique often ends up coming out on top.
“We all want to make our properties stand out online, and more often than not that just means writing a clear and thorough description of the things that are important to buyers,” Main said. “These days keywords are so important and buyers who are quickly skimming through homes on their lunch break don’t have time to read through all the fluff. So getting to the important parts first and helping them really understand the layout of the home and the features that matter to the average buyer is important.”