Tell people you write about real estate, and they assume you’re hammering out crafty copy that homebuyers must interpret when sifting through dozens of residential property listings. “Cozy” equals “cramped.” “Convenient location” means “the freeway runs right through your backyard.” And “handyman special” translates as “You will absolutely empty your bank account making this thing livable.”
Writing for real estate
While that type of writing is an art in itself, it’s typically drafted by residential real estate agents, not professional writers. Real estate B2C writing, such as marketing collateral or website content for a new residential development, more often involves a much broader platform. At its core, this type of writing relies on storytelling.
Yes, prospective homebuyers want to know about square footage and skylights and school districts. But more than that, they want to know the story of the place where they’re considering putting down roots. They want the elements, such as history or natural features or (in the case of urban retrofits) the physical structure, that make the space unique. Just as it increasingly influences other consumer purchases, such as food, wine and clothing, so, too, does the backstory drive the biggest purchase most people will make in their lives: their home. They want to know that they’re investing in a place that is as special as they are. (And, they are all special.)
Appealing to buyers’ emotions: Writing for B2C real estate
Another key component of B2C real estate writing is appealing to the emotions of prospective homebuyers. Language that speaks to the core human values of safety, community and belonging is essential. Homebuyers need to be reassured that they’re making the right decision—one they’ll have to live with for decades.
Homebuyers also need you to paint an aspirational picture for them. They need you to describe the life they want to lead and the people they will magically become once they buy the home. It doesn’t matter whether they’ll ever really have time to unwind in the evening with a group of attractive and diverse neighbors in their romantically lit urban garden with a refreshing glass of Chardonnay. They’ll still be scrambling to cook dinner and get the kids to bed on time while wearing sweatpants and Crocs. But they want to believe that slice of idyllic living can happen in their new home.
Drive home the numbers: Writing for B2B real estate
B2B real estate writing requires a nearly opposite approach. Commercial real estate people are generally driven by numbers far more than words. They skim through copy, focusing only on the numbers to see whether a project “pencils.” Words aren’t their world. Words are subjective and open to interpretation, while numbers never lie (except in a political campaign). Copy written for commercial real estate audiences should be brief and factual, cutting to the bottom line as quickly as possible. Commercial real estate people have no time to waste on world building.
Speaking of time … one important element common to both B2C and B2C real estate writing is speedy delivery. Every real estate professional I’ve worked with appreciates the fact that I work with them in “real time.” The cliché is true: Time is money, and real estate people are experts at clock management. Deadlines must be met, and revisions must be prompt. They’re working 10-hour days and seven-day weeks, so you need to keep up with them. You often need to leave time as well for copy review by the in-house or outside legal counsel, which will likely compress your content generation window even further.
Ultimately, a good real estate writer needs the same qualities as a real estate professional—flexibility, drive and a vision for what can be.
This is the second post in our six-part series on writing for specific industries by real estate writer and one of our star contributors Jeryldine Saville. We’ll be posting every week for the next six weeks, so check back often. Have an industry we don’t write about in this series? Let us know on Twitter @sparkingbrands and we’ll write one just for you.