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Can You Build a Copywriting Business Drafting Real Estate Listings?

Make a Living Writing Property Descriptions


{Need ideas for writing your property description? Check out copywriting real estate listings. Or contact Susan Greene, real estate copywriter, for assistance.}

professional copywriters for realtors
Many realtors look to professional copywriters to make their property listings sound enticing.

Hi Susan,

I’m researching becoming a freelance copywriter and have zeroed in on the real estate niche because I love watching real estate shows on TV. I think it’d be so much fun to write about the details of a property, particularly if it’s an expensive property with lots of unique features.

So here’s my question: Is it possible to make a decent living writing listing descriptions?¬†

Allen

Hi Allen,

To make a living writing real estate listings you’d need to attract a couple of good-sized real estate clients who move lots of properties and are willing to outsource all of their listing copy. That may be difficult.

I find that most realtors are hesitant to spend money on a copywriter. It comes out of their pocket. It’s not like they have a corporate budget to spend. Every cent they put into copywriting or advertising diminishes their commission.

Additionally, realtors have to spend the money before they make the sale, so that adds an element of risk. If they invest in copywriting and advertising and aren’t successful in selling the property within the seller’s allotted time period, then they lose the listing and make nothing.

Realtors working with limited advertising budgets may have to choose between hiring a professional copywriter and hiring a professional photographer and/or videographer. Unfortunately, they’re more likely to go with the latter as quality visuals are critical.

Quality copy sells property
Quality copy when combined with professional photos is extremely effective in selling residential property.

The realtors who hire me to write listing descriptions don’t call for every property they’re selling; they only call when they have an expensive listing and feel it’s worth upping their game to make the sale.

My point is, you’re unlikely to get work writing listings for $100,000 homes. You’ll need to connect with realtors scoring multi-million dollar property listings who therefore have the budget to hire a professional copywriter.

Susan Greene, Copywriter

I realize you’re mostly talking about being a freelance real estate copywriter? Is there such a thing as an in-house real estate copywriter?

Allen

Yes. I imagine that large real estate firms and property developers have sufficient work to merit hiring an in-house copywriter. Or the responsibilities may go beyond copywriting to include marketing and advertising. I’m sure such positions exist although I can’t say I’ve researched them.

You should realize, however, that you’re unlikely to land a corporate position without some experience. Freelance copywriting is often a good springboard to develop your writing chops, create some pieces for your portfolio and gain confidence in your skills.

Susan Greene, Copywriter

freelance copywriter
You might want to start out as a freelance copywriter but then move into a corporate writing or marketing position.

Generally speaking, do you think demand for real estate copywriters is on the upswing?

Allen

In the short-term, that likely depends on specific areas. In upscale communities where it’s a buyer’s market, you can expect the realtors to be willing to invest more in promoting their properties.

In the long-term, take note of how the real estate game is changing. Sellers have alternatives to using realtors. They used to need realtors to get their home’s listing into the MLS. Now they can choose among multiple online platforms where they can promote their property for free or very cheap, certainly cheaper than paying a realtor 6% of their selling price.

Will individual homeowners be willing to spend money for professionally written listings? Again, I think maybe the wealthy folks selling expensive properties but not the dude down the street selling his $85,000 fixer-upper.

Susan Greene, Copywriter

Some realtors write their own property listings. Others recognize it’s not the best use of their time and hire a real estate copywriter.

This is my biggest concern…is there enough demand for writing listing descriptions? I know a lot of RE agents write their own.

Allen

For properties that are standard fare without lots of bells and whistles, most realtors are fairly capable of writing a straightforward description. Although writing might not be the best use of their time when they could be out selling and hustling for more listings, they’re trying to keep their expenses down. So here’s my suggestion to you.

Don’t limit yourself. Pursue the real estate direction but don’t limit yourself to residential real estate. You may be able to pick up work writing commercial real estate property listings, many of which have bigger budgets for marketing than your standard home.

Also, keep an eye out for other non-real estate work too. Lots of copywriters have multiple niches they pursue. Each one individually may not offer sufficient work for a full-time focus, but combined you may be able to cobble together a decent living.

Susan Greene, Copywriter

writing about property
If the realtor can provide you with the property’s best features and selling points, you likely don’t need to tour the property on your own to be able to write about it.

Do you need to see a property in person to be able to write about it?

Allen

No. I’ve written hundreds of listings and could count on one hand the number of properties I visited in person. Having said that, over time I’ve created a detailed form that helps me to obtain the information I need from the realtor.

I can give the realtor the form to complete or we can discuss the answers by phone, depending on the realtor’s preference.

write property descriptions
Be sure to have your realtor client check the property descriptions you write for accuracy.

With the facts in hand, combined with looking at photos of the property if available, I can easily write the listing. And, of course, the realtor will be reviewing my work to ensure the copy is accurate.

Susan Greene, Copywriter

How can I learn to write good property listings? Someone told me that I should look up some master copywriters and handwrite some of their best work to ingrain it into my head.

Allen

Yes, I’ve heard people say that’s an effective learning method but to me, copying someone else’s words seems like busywork. I’d recommend reading property listings and then writing your own.

become a good copywriter
The best way to become a good copywriter is to practice, just like any other skill.

Not sure what properties to write about? It can be your own or your parents’ or your friends’ homes. It can even be properties you look up on a real estate website like Trulia or Zillow.

Get comfortable organizing your thoughts and presenting a property’s best features. Discover what phrases work for describing exterior features versus interior features.

By writing your own real estate listings, you’ll not only be learning but also creating some samples you may be able to use in landing paid copywriting work.

Good luck launching your real estate listing copywriting career!

Susan Greene, Copywriter

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