How to Write an Effective Property Listing

In real estate, small things really add up to make a large impact. Property listing descriptions may not seem like the end-all-be-all but they can truly influence a potential buyer. There are many ways to approach them and actually, quite a bit of research as well! Make sure you write the best listing possible with the following tips:

1. Keep it 250 words or less!

Zillow has done lots of research on this and they say this is the optimum word count to make your description pack a punch.

 

2. Be as detailed as possible!

The way you word things will have a huge impact on the buyer's impression of the home. Saying the home is stunning or beautiful is not as powerful as telling a buyer why that’s true. Use your descriptions to create an idea of what living in the home would be like. 

 

For example, if your property has a living room with great windows to let in the sunlight, perhaps describe it as, “Enjoy your morning coffee while basking in the natural sunlight from the large picture windows.” 

 

3. Avoid Simply Listing Facts

5 beds and baths is a great thing to know about a property but the potential buyer can see that elsewhere! Use your description to talk about facts not listed! What are the floors made of? Is that a Viking Stove? Let the buyer know all the amazing amenities in a descriptive format. 

 

4. Check out Zillow’s Words to Use/Avoid List!

Zillow has lists of the most effective words to use based on price points. The top 5 words to use (generally) are…

  • Luxurious
  • Captivating
  • Impeccable
  • Stainless
  • Basketball

Surprising right? The word basketball is in reference to a basketball court but they say lower-priced homes “sold for 4.5 percent more than expected.” You can see the rest here! (hyperlink)

 

They also have a list of words that often lower the price of the home. These include…

  • Fixer
  • TLC
  • Cosmetic
  • Investment
  • Investor

There are lots of rationals as to why these words (and more) should be avoided that you can read here! (hyperlink)

 

6. Lastly, Double Check and Check Again!

There is little more off-putting than spotting errors on property listings! Do yourself a favor and double and then triple check your description before posting! Make sure you’ve got all your commas in and that the verbiage sounds natural. One great trick is to read your description out loud! Oftentimes, errors are easier to hear than see. 

Improve Your Real Estate Game by Marketing Lifestyles

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There are a lot of discussions today on the changing trends in real estate. One of the biggest trends in the Middle Tennessee market is the idea of selling a lifestyle instead of a house. Buyers are more and more looking at homes to suit more than just their physical needs (i.e. 3+ bedrooms). They want to move to a community that fits how they wish to live. 

 

Whether your clients are looking at high-rise condos or estate-style golf communities in Williamson County, it’s time to rethink your marketing approach. Start asking your clients the question, “why?”. What is important to them? They will be much more likely to buy when they can see how this new home will affect their day to day life. Five bedrooms won’t always sell them but, a community of like-minded friends? That’s a powerful motivation. 

 

Buyers are thinking, “How will this property help me to live?”. Answer that question for them! If you are listing a house, think through how you can answer that in your listing. If your listing is within walking distance to amenities or has an amazing pool, visually show that! It will mean significantly more to a buyer to see what is so great about the area rather than hear about it. 

 

Adding in visuals of amenities in the area may require more work, but it can also mean the difference as to whether your listing stands above the rest. 

 

Holding an open house? Perhaps hand out materials about the area, the local restaurants, schools, and what the neighborhood community is like. This personal touch will stay with potential buyers for much longer and influence them towards making a purchase. 

 

You can also use a lifestyle approach to market to potential clients. Use occupations, favorite shopping centers, and income levels to help focus your advertising to a more refined audience. Do you love selling upscale, modern condos downtown? You probably won’t market to an avid golfer looking to move to a gated community with lots of land. Make some smart and calculated decisions about who you market to. 

 

In addition, focus your personal branding on the lifestyle you would like to sell. Think about how your image impacts people’s perception of what you will sell them. Is your logo or website more casual? Or, is it formal and classic to appeal to more luxury listings? Whatever your specialty is, use social media, websites, print materials, and logos consistently to tell a buyer or seller what life you will provide them. 


If you want to read more about community living in our area, the Tennessean has a great article that can be read here!

 

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2018 Real Estate Trends: How Millennials are Shaping the Home Buying Process

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According to Zillow - half of today’s homeowners are under the age of 36. Yes, that’s right, one-half of homeowners in this country are millennials. While the banter of who or what millennials are or aren’t constantly surface in today’s media, one thing is for sure in our market: millennials are shaping it. 

 

At 32%, millennials are the largest single segment of the market. In addition, Inc. Magazine notes that 66% of millennials plan to buy a home in the next 5 years. While it looks like the market share will increase even further down the road, we certainly don’t need to wait to see the influence millennials already have on the market. Forbes listed “millennials” in the top 10 real estate trends to watch out for in 2018 and we are digging in and exploring what the means: 

 

RESEARCH DRIVEN CULTURE
 

Millenials are notorious for researching anything and everything before buying. While other generations often make fun of this millennial obsession, when it comes to home-buying, millennials research expertise comes in handy.
 

91% of millennials start their home-buying journey online. However, this doesn’t mean that real estate agents are out of the picture. 70% then combine their online research with help from a traditional real estate agent. Millennials see agents as the expert of the home-buying process. Agents can expect to spend more time with the clients helping to understand the process and less time actually finding listings for their clients. Agents are really there to help facilitate the sale, while the millennials are busy picking out what they would like to see online. 

 

PERFECTION
 

Millennials know what they want, and stand strong with their list of must-haves. At the top of that list are energy efficient appliances and other “green” features, updated kitchens and bathrooms, open floor plans, home office and smart home technology. 
 

What’s not on the list? Potential repairs or interest in any “fixer-uppers”. Millennials plan for down payments and the monthly costs of the mortgage payment and utilities, but leave little room for repairs or improvements. Half of the millennials prefer a brand new house for this very reason. If not brand new, turn-key homes are preferred.
 

As far as timelines go, the average homeowner keeps their home for ten years, while the average Millennial keeps their home for just six years. However, millennials are known to wait for that perfect buy to come up for a longer time span than the rest of the market.
 

EXPECT EXTRA DECISION MAKERS
 

One new-to-the-mix attribute of this generation is the addition of extra decision-makers in the home-buying process. Known as a generation of late-bloomers, millennials are known for bringing their parents into the mix. 
 

While millennials lead the show in terms of research and finding the potential buys, when it comes to decision-making times, agents can expect to suddenly have an extra carload for that last showing. Why? Parents are often helping out with the down-payment (as either a family investment or a gift) and want to be there for the final stages of the process.
 

This new multi-generational (and carload) phenomenon gives agents a run for their money. When this happens they are catering towards two different sets of opinions, questions, and needs.
 

PHOTOS MEAN BUSINESS
 

While no surprise, quality photos are key to marketing towards millennials. Thanks to millennials making their own choices from online research about which listings they’d like to see in person, it’s crucial to have the best photos possible posted to make the cut. 
 

Agents are now pulling out all the stops with beautiful social media accounts spotlighting professional photography (can’t forget the drone), and expert staging. This shift in millennials’ expectations in what they see in the listing is, in part, due to perfection seen from years of exposure to listings on HGTV.
 

LOCATION, LOCATION, NATURE
 

As previous generations, location remains at the top of the list for finding that perfect home. What is unexpectedly also similar to previous generations? Suburbs. 
 

According to the The National Association of Realtors (NAR), 57% of millennials are buying in suburbs, followed by 16% in small towns and 15% in urban areas.
 

Millennials are known for wanting to get outside during their off hours while not sitting in front of their laptop, and want to be close to nature to do so. Living in an area where outdoor recreation is convenient and accessible is key. 
 

The pragmatic side of this generation, however, wants to avoid long commutes to save money on gas and do their part to help the environment. With this in mind, it makes sense that millennials are preferring suburban areas outside major metropolitan areas with substantial public transportation options. 
 

One thing that may not be a surprise? A listing within walking distance to a coffee shop or Whole Foods (or other specialty grocery stores) can increase the listing price as much as 17.5%.

What New Tax Laws Mean for Real Estate

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A new law signed into effect by President Donald Trump, the Tax Cuts, and Job Act, is likely to impact many American citizens. You might be unsure, a little nervous, or just confused about what this new tax law supposedly has in store. Keep reading, and this article will hopefully clear up some confusion and give you a bit of insight into how this law will affect your life.
 

Mortgage-interest deduction is thought to be the sacrosanct pathway to fulfill one step in the American dream: owning a house. Originally, the House proposed a new cap of $500,000, but that did not succeed. This big change, which is said to be a “direct threat to homeowners and consumers,” is the decrease of mortgage-interest deduction. 

The new law reduced the highest amount of mortgage debt from which interest can be deducted from taxes from $1 million to $750,000. Any loans taken out after December 15, 2017, fall under this category, so only new mortgages will be affected. This law remains true for the ownership of a second home or a vacation home. It is predicted that this new tax law will affect mostly cities with upper-middle-class housing markets. The very wealthy probably won’t be affected, since they exceed the deduction and thus do not itemize, and often buy real estate with cash. 

Due to the doubling of the standard deduction, if you forgo itemizing, this new cap may not affect you. Because people will be receiving less than the standard deduction back if they choose to itemize, the initiative to itemize will probably decline. The tax-related benefits that come from owning a house will also be lessened. Previously, less than half of the homes in the U.S., about 44%, were worth enough that owners could itemize. With the new law, that percentage has decreased to roughly 14% of homes. 

Rather than benefiting, many homeowners will now end up paying more in taxes since the law decreases the amount of taxes permissible to itemize. Homeowners could also lose significant equity due to the drop in home values. Compared to estimations without the new tax law, Moody’s Analytics project that home prices will fall 4 percent, impacting wealthy homeowners and the real estate lobby. For first-time homeowners, this new law will mean taking a closer look at their budget and could potentially deter them from moving to a city or county with high property taxes. This law could make the difference for an individual or a couple renting for another year or being able to finally purchase their first home.
 

Another change brought on by the Tax Cuts and Job Act is the limit of local and state property taxes. With the new law, up to $10,000 of local and state property taxes may be itemized or deducted; in the past, this amount didn’t have a ceiling. This will largely affect homeowners in areas with high local taxes, such as New York, Connecticut, and California. Eleven of the 12 House Republicans that voted against this bill call one of these three states home. Again, would-be buyers may be stalled in their ability to buy a house. Now, the benefits of owning a home are being cut down. 

Donna Olshan, president of Olshan Realty, located in New York City, stated that most of her clients pay over six figures per year in New York state and local taxes. What is this new law going to mean for them? Selma Happ, a chief economist in California, said that this new law could bring devastation for those who reside in the San Francisco Bay area.
 

The third change caused by this law is the increase in standard deductions. Under the new law, the standard deduction for taxpayers doubles to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for those filing jointly. With this change, taxpayers will likely decide to choose the standard deduction rather than choosing to itemize.
 

Where do we see these changes affecting the real estate market? Due to the variance of property taxes between cities and counties, the prices of homes for sale in certain areas will obviously be more affected than others. Specifically - in districts with a highly ranked education or school system, you may see more houses appear on the market. Homeowners will have to weigh the pros and cons of staying or leaving the school district if they can no longer write off some their property taxes. Because individuals will have to consider the value of the location, there may be a reduction in home sale prices in locations with high home ownership taxes. 
 

The new bill will bring in revenue for the government, but will not be beneficial for all American citizens. Many people will have to reconsider their budget and make changes. Whether you are a renter, soon-to-be homeowner, or a current homeowner, it is crucial to educate yourself on the new tax bill and how it will impact you.

Helping Buyers Navigate Inventory Issues

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Just about any real estate professional today knows that it's not easy for would-be buyers to find the home of their dreams without dealing with significant interest from other shoppers. With this in mind, it's important to help them navigate through the market making the process as stress-free as possible.

In today's market, this is challenging with so few homes up for sale relative to demand - even during slower winter months - Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff explained in an earnings call that most people are likely to face bidding wars for just about any home they try to buy, according to Business Insider. The reason this is a problem for would-be buyers is clear enough: Greater competition can drag out the shopping process, lead to other shoppers' bids being accepted and drive up prices.

This situation can also lead to problems for agents because it could create a backlog of buying clients who may take a few months - or more - to find a home.

Navigating the sellers' market
At this point, anecdotal evidence suggests that for some homes for sale - particularly those carrying lower price tags, which are far more affordable for first-time buyers, who now make up a near-record chunk of the buyers' market - get a lot of bids. Some agents have seen properties receive at least several bids, leading to some hopeful buyers bidding on more than a dozen homes. That environment creates a lot of extra work for agents, as well, and can be quite discouraging to first-timers who have never faced this kind of frustration in the home buying process.

Helping with expertise
Fortunately, agents can use the credibility they've built up over their years facilitating real estate sales to help buyers find deals with as little fuss as possible, according to The Washington Post. For instance, if agents can identify homes that have been on the market a little longer than other properties, that insight might help them connect shoppers with more motivated sellers, which can expedite the process.

Along similar lines, agents might be wise to start showing their clients more "fixer-upper" properties if asking prices come in below the buyers' total budgets. While shoppers might not be excited to live in a house that needs a bit more work, the money they save on the sale can be invested directly into those renovations and make buyers feel as though they're living in a home that's truly their own.

 

Generally speaking, the more agents can do to get out of the traditional listings market and find buyers suitable, low-key options, the better off they're going to be when it comes to getting those sales handled quickly and helping buyers avoid stress that might otherwise crop up given today's market conditions. That, in turn, may lead to more referrals down the road, because if agents can ferry clients through stressful times, those people may be more likely to recommend an agent to friends and family.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.