• Shannon

What your real estate website visitors see

Updated: Dec 1, 2018

You know the story: you kvetch over your listing descriptions, trying desperately to come up with just the right words to describe your brand-new-listing-that-you-want-to-sell today.

Some agents even hire professional real estate writers to craft these descriptions. In fact, just this evening I came across a writer promising to use “neuro linguistic-programming techniques to create a more powerful and persuasive selling description of any property.”

And she wants you to PAY her for that. Well, she does say they are “carefully crafted.”

And don’t look at me – a listing description is the one real estate writing service we don’t offer.


Because the agent’s remarks are ignored by more than 40 percent of buyers

I’m not making this up – studies prove it. An ocular tracking study (tracking eye movements of buyers on a real estate website) showed that “the real estate agent’s open remarks section is viewed” last and that “very little emphasis is placed on this section.”

In other words, you’re stressing over nothing.

Now, if the home’s photos suck, you do need to stress because more than 95 percent of your website visitors will look first at a home’s photo. Then, they turn to the “quantitative property description.”

That’s the MLS template stuff, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, etc.

Now, here’s the really surprising part of the study:

“In our experiment, participants comply by viewing the remainder of the home, but in an actual setting, one has to wonder if the agent remarks would ever get read if the home searcher does not like the initial photo of the home.”

Yeah, that emphasis is all mine.

In essence, you could probably fill your agent remarks section with profanity and nobody would even notice. Now, I’m not advocating that; just trying to make a point.

Who started this one?

It’s common knowledge that kitchens and bathrooms are the most important to buyers, right? Isn’t that what we all tell our sellers? Where did that come from?

Did you ever hear the pot roast story?

It’s about a woman who is preparing a family dinner – pot roast. She cuts the roast in half and uses two pots in which to cook them – one for each half.

Her daughter watches her as she does this and asks “Mom, why do you cut the roast in half?”

“Because that’s how my mother always did it,” Mom replies. So, the daughter rounds up her grandmother and asks her the same question. “Gramma, why do you cut your pot roast in half when you cook it?”

“Because that’s what my mother did, and I learned how to cook from her,” Gramma replied.

Thankfully, great-gramma was at the family dinner as well and the daughter finally got her answer. “In my day, roasts were much larger than any pot I owned, so I had to cut them in half and cook the pieces in two smaller pots,” she replied.

It’s amazing how we do things without questioning why – how we blindly believe things without a cultural context. Especially in real estate, when change is so slow to be accepted.

Sure, at one time, kitchens and bathrooms may have been a buyers’ hot buttons, but are they today?

You’ve seen the home builder studies that show buyers want energy efficiency, storage, outdoor living spaces, open floor plans and lots of natural light. Yet, we persist in telling homeowners that their kitchens and bathrooms rule the sale.

And, the aforementioned eye-tracking study backs this up. “While all rooms are significantly positively correlated with the overall rating, no room in particular stands out as being a better indicator of the overall evaluation of the home.”

Text vs Graphics

Now, I’ve known about the eye tracking study for some time. But, tonight I came across another study that floored me.

“In general, it has been found that people prefer text over graphics as entry points into websites (Boaz et al., 2002).”

Surprising, right?

I’ve already commissioned someone to fix my website. I could’ve sworn the “experts” claimed that photos are more important. Who would’ve thought that the written word is more interesting?

Oh, ok, I would. But I’m a writer.

A real estate writer who promises you that “neuro-linguistic programming” isn’t even in my vocab. (And my prices rock, too).

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