Tag Archives: copy

An open book and a tea set above a table with a fireplace in a background

Way back in the olden days, estate agents would offer a double-sided A4 sheet of typed information to market a property, complete with two or three stuck-on photographs measuring 3.5” x 5”. These were referred to as ‘particulars’ or sometimes ‘details’.

But that was then, and this is now. If your agent is doing a good marketing job, you should have had created for you a beautiful brochure of anything from 4 – 12 pages long, laminated or extra thick card, packed with professional and beautiful images, skilfully drawn floorplans and text full of emotion that really brings your home to life.

This is not a set of ‘particulars’. On the contrary – it is a brochure. Synonymous in quality and content with the best hotel brochures, and those of travel companies, luxury gyms, status watches and top marquee cars. After all, your house is worth many times more than any of those purchases.

A brochure sells quality, lifestyle; it is something to aspire to, to show your friends and family, to stroke (ok, I admit it) and to keep looking at.

Unique homes need unique brochures.

Brochures are generally gathered over the week to browse through at the weekend, in what one estate agent I know calls the ‘Saturday morning shuffle’. This is a brutal sorting into ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles – which one would yours land in?

If you are now looking at your ‘brochure’ wondering if it would meet the HomeTruths’ grade, give me a call, and I’ll tell you. Though if you are unsure, chances are it’s probably destined for a ‘no’ pile…..

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

Chess board and pieces on top of a wooden table facing a fireplace in a living room.

Copy that crackles

When an estate agent describes a house he’s selling, in a brochure or online, you’ll see he uses words that are found almost nowhere else in the English language: “benefiting from”, “dual aspect lounge” or “located in a premier turning” are all commonplace phrases for today’s estate agent. Surely learned in estate agents’ school, along with the capacity to spell the room we eat in as the “dinning room” and accommodation with only one ‘m’, or one ’c’, or even one of each. Oh dear…….

I’m on holiday as I write this post, in beautiful and windswept Northumberland. Staying in a cosy retreat of a cottage, that sold itself to me via some appropriate images (log burner, super king-sized bed, coffee machine), and also, importantly, the right words: “squishy sofas”, “great jazz cd collection”, “secret garden”.

The whole quirky, fun-sized brochure is beautifully written, and – unlike most property descriptions – really draws the reader in. Listen to this description: “This architect designed house brings you the sound of the waves, mesmerizing coastal views and sand between your toes, just steps away from a spacious and light-filled contemporary interior splashed with vivid artwork.”

Or this: “The fitted gourmet kitchen blends together oak and leather furniture and a cosy ‘snug’ with flat screen TV and piles of reading material, leads of the living room.” This one really sets the scene: “The patio is the perfect place to watch the harbor activity and the changing sea from sunrise to sunset.”

Now compare the above descriptions with those used by local estate agents to describe beach-front properties:

“A 3 bed semi-detached house located in the heart of the village with coastal views to the front.”

“An attractive three bedroom detached bungalow occupying an enviable position on Harbour Road, enjoying superb views to the sea.”

“The apartment is situated within the attic space of the central building with direct sea views to the Farne Islands and along the beach towards Bamburgh Castle.”

These are beach-front homes, for goodness sake!

Which style works better in painting a picture for the reader? Can a buyer really become enthused by these agents’ descriptions? Despite the fact that I’m a professional property expert who has herself, moved home more than thirty times, I’m still a sucker for the kind of emotive language used by the holiday rental company in question, and the combination of such romantic words and atmospheric images wins me over every time.

The lesson here is this: if estate agents employed the same attention to detail in their copy as the best travel companies do, they too would win over their audience – the buyer. If you’re still not convinced, take a look at the website of the company who got my business:  www.coastalretreats.co.uk and lose yourself in some holiday dreaming.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.

A magazine on top of a table and single couch beside it

When a house is being described in print or online, the words used can either have the effect of making a reader switch off, or else making the house lift off the page, and come alive. The difference between telling the reader all about a property, in terms of bricks and mortar, and the way a good writer can draw you into the detail of a home, full of welcome and memories, is a profound one.  Look at these examples:

‘A beautiful detached family home, set in pretty gardens extending to about an acre, with a wonderfully secluded swimming pool, far reaching views and well planned accommodation. No onward chain.’

‘On a warm, summer’s morning Mark and Anne Clarke like nothing better than to take a dip in their heated, outdoor swimming pool, before enjoying their breakfast al fresco on the terrace, overlooking the back garden.’

The pool is actually at the side of the house and not overlooked by anyone. “That side of the house gets the sun all day, so we often like to take an early morning swim,” Helen explained. “The minute we first saw it we knew we were going to buy it,” she added. “There are wonderful views from every single window in the house.”

Would you believe these two passages are actually describing the same house?

How about these two; which house sounds more appealing?

This one…. ‘A wonderful country house situated in an enviable position within this hamlet. The property, which has been well maintained and improved by the current owners for over 30 years and is presented for sale in excellent decorative order throughout.’

Or this? Wandering past the glorious roses in full bloom, and on through the Japanese and Italian gardens, Ian and his wife Sophie soak up the wonderful tranquillity of their exquisite English country home.’

They have lived at the expansive four-bedroom house in this picturesque hamlet for more than 30 years now. There they have created an attractive and comfortable family home, which sits beautifully in its magnificent grounds of almost 6 acres. The property is overflowing with delightful features that include intricate plasterwork and open fireplaces, while the fabulous grounds incorporate a tennis court and a number of outbuildings, including converted stables, as well as a semi-walled garden with pond, and an arboretum.’

Beautiful prose and evocative words written in a stylish and nostalgic tone, can really capture a reader’s imagination. Dull, flat copy full of clichés and ‘estate agent-speak’ can have the opposite effect.  Here’s my 5 point checklist to make sure your home sings on the page:

1. Create a snappy headline.

‘Executive five bed home with luxury fittings and well-maintained gardens’ isn’t enough to get anyone excited. ‘Are these the best views in Sussex?’ will get your property noticed for all the right reasons.

2. Supercharge your adjectives.

Is your copy sprinkled with adjectives that evoke homely warmth and comfort? Words like cosy and welcoming are very appealing to buyers, and will pull at their emotional buying strings.

3. Ban all agent-speak.

Scour your descriptions for words that are clichéd and typical of the worst kind of property description. Make sure you take out offending phrases like ‘double aspect’ or ‘benefitting from’ and eliminate any mention at all of power points, telephone points and radiators.

4. Room-by-room descriptions are old hat.

Much better is a well-written opening paragraph, followed by a written ‘tour’ of the house, including the garden, and peppered with pretty quotes from the owners.

5. Dimensions belong in floorplans; not in the written description.

They interrupt the flow of the writing, and are very difficult to understand when taken out of context.  As part of the floorplan they are useful because they make sense.

Of course, it’s not always a straightforward process, persuading your estate agent to add such imaginative and attractive style to your written description, but even if you can get him to use some of your words, it will make such a difference to the way your buyer understands what your home has to offer them.

If you’d like my help to sell your home more effectively, please answer a few short questions here and if I think I can help you, I’ll be in touch.