What Is A Real Estate Copywriter?
You’re not the first to ask it, in fact, 300 people a month google this question in the US alone.
If you want to understand what copywriting is, what is a real estate copywriter, what are the rates for a real estate copywriter, what they do if you need one, and how to find one…
You’re in the right place.
Let’s dive in.
What is Copywriting?
Before I go into how this relates to Real Estate, I’ll have to elaborate on what is Copywriting in general.
I won’t go in-depth, and if you want to learn more, you can check my full explanation.
But here’s the short, easy-to-understand version to make your life simpler.
Copywriting is essentially writing in a conversational tone, leading the reader (prospect) through empathy to have a bond with the copywriter (me in this case), making the reader take a specific action.
I use specific words and psychological methods to trigger emotional reactions from the readers (you or prospects) and make them take immediate action. (buying, calling, subscribing, clicking, etc.)
The immediate action I aim for the prospect to take - depends on the circumstances and what you want as a client. It could be an immediate reaction, like buying or subscribing - or to warm them up to your offer or brand.
In a sentence:
Copywriting is the art and science of written persuasion.
Some even call it closing in writing (sales).
While most companies sell the features of their products, very few sell their benefits.
Meaning; how they'll make you (the customer) FEEL.
If you take one thing from this entire page, make sure it’s the next line.
People, you, me, your clients, are selfish in nature. We care about one thing and one thing only.
When you talk about how great your company is, how good your product is… I’m sorry to break it to you - they simply don’t fucking care.
They have a problem, an itch they are facing.
Brand Presence Issues
Brand Voice Issues
They need SOLUTIONS.
That’s why I don’t tell my clients how much of an amazing writer I am.
I tell them how my writing can alleviate their problems.
I tell them how paying me will:
Solve their boring-ass email issue (those that nobody reads or cares about)
How I can increase their revenues with higher conversion rates using engaging copy
How they can better manage their time doing things they NEED while I take care of copy
How their brand can stand out and have a unique voice in a field filled with copy-cats.
And here’s the kicker…
That solution comes with a feeling.
“Ah, I can have more time” - freedom.
“Ah, I can make more money” - freedom, happiness, opportunity, growth, progress.
“Ah, I will be unique and different” - The need to be significant (one of the 6 human needs).
We, humans, are emotional creatures.
We have our lizard brains still controlling most of our actions, and we are addicted to dopamine.
That’s why we like to shop, eat junk food, and check our smartphones for popping red notifications every fucking 15 minutes.
And we JUSTIFY our EMOTIONAL purchases with logic.
A Prius and a Ferrari can both get you from A to B. Heck, the Prius even has more seats!
But you don’t buy a Ferrari to get from A to B.
You pay for the FEELING you get while driving a Ferrari from A to B.
It can evoke a feeling of status and wealth. It can evoke a feeling of excitement from the speed, or appreciation of the craftsmanship and high-end machinery.
Of course, you also pay for their heritage, branding, marketing, and other factors, but you get what I’m saying.
Another thing unique to copywriting is that it’s a text written to one but published to millions.
The “trick” is to get the reader to feel like you are conversing with him, explaining complex stuff to understand, filled with jargon, and make it simple & fun for him to understand.
Like a friend talking to him. (empathy, remember?)
“Don’t you hate looking at the scale and find out you gained that weight back?”.
See - now we are on the same boat - fighting our battle with weight.
Now selling you a miracle pill to lose weight will be easier, because you know I understand your pain.
But I digress.
So, now you understand better what copywriting is all about.
Now I owe you what I promised, what the hell is a Real Estate copywriter?
9 Juicy Marketing Tips for 2021 From A Professional Real Estate Copywriter
The world has gone digital even before covid. The reality 2020 forced on us just accelerated that trend. And now the real estate space was further affected, increasing the trend of homeowners and investors roaming the web to find their deals.
With this new accelerated remote buyer experience, digital marketing and/or copywriting for your properties or real estate business, in general, is a necessity.
Two years ago, it was implemented heavily by businesses that wanted to thrive. Today, your business must use it just in order to survive.
Here are 9 ways to stand out in your real estate marketing through great copywriting in 2021
Email (sales) copy
Every good email needs to be opened before it’s read. Confused? Read that sentence again.
Even if you write the best email of your life, and your headline doesn't make the recipient interested in opening it, the body copy won’t matter.
And the competition out there is fierce. Sales emails are used constantly. But their quality? Not as strong. Check out the 2021 Hubspot research stats:
One of the basic and most fundamental rules of engaging copy is creating enough hook/desire/interest in each line so the reader wants to read the next one. Email copy is no different, and the first line your recipient reads is the subject line. Body copy is obviously important too, as it is what will convert after gaining that initial attention.
Generally speaking, there are 5 routes you can choose from that are proven to yield high open rates. The more you know your target audience, the better you’re equipped to pick the right route for you.
Now, out of these five methods, me and other top copywriters I worked with agree that the strongest one is at the head of the list.
The curiosity hook is so powerful because it’s universal. Age, gender, ethnicity, industry, sector, and other substantial variables in the equation don’t affect it -- as long as you’re targeting humans.
Here is how a good curiosity hook looks like:
Back in January 2020, before the pandemic started, I moved to Paris, as I was hired by e-valley, the biggest E-logistics park in Europe, to help them convert more emails into actual leads.
David, their CEO, told me: “Listen, Tom, these are 7 figure leaders, heads of logistic departments for 8 figure brands, they don’t check their email, they have a secretary for that”.
“The Right Person?” subject line was my winner, and my post picture above explains why. Another factor that I secretly used and didn’t share on LinkedIn, was the ego factor. Important people always want to be the right person. This email helped e-valley land clients like Levis and Nike.
Of course, the body copy needs to be clear, concise, have value in it, and be related to the headline, so it doesn't mislead people.
Even when I approached Seth, I used 3 of the 5 methods. Can you tell which three?
If you said curiosity, relevancy, and emotion, you’d be right.
Curiosity - “Is it my land? What land?” Seth probably said to himself reading this.
Relevancy - Seth uploaded a video to his YouTube channel about lands a week prior.
Emotion - “Cracked Me Up” - “I want to laugh too” - Desire. “Making fun of me?” - Fear.
*Bonus - Personalization. Always personalize when you are able. Seth’s name in the headline.
And if you’re saying “But I’m not selling anything in my emails”...
Please understand that you are. You always are. You are selling the prospect on why you are worth their attention and time. Even if they already subscribed. They had a busy day. Every day.
Here are two practical tips you can start implementing tomorrow to get higher opening rates for your emails - using the curiosity hook in your subject lines:
Ask an interesting question that is relevant to the recipient.
Use an incomplete sentence. Something they will care about. But follow through in the email body copy.
The face of your business in 2021 is your website. We are going from very digital, to almost only digital. Here are the numbers from Hubspot:
The first and most obvious thing websites do wrong is the UVP (Unique Value Proposition). It is called the ‘hero shot’ for a reason.
It’s the headline that captures the attention of prospect landing on your page. It is the single most important thing on your website.
With about 12-15 words, the prospect needs to understand:
What you offer
Who is it for
Why you’re the best choice
It is very difficult to pull off.
15 words to capture a person’s attention span, which on average, lasts only 8 seconds.
There are many ways to approach this, but no matter how you end up doing so, it needs to retain the brand’s value, culture, and voice.
Another sin most websites partake in is talking about themselves, their business, “us”, “we, our”, instead of “you”, “you’re”.
To be as objective as possible, I scoured the web for a perfect example. I looked for a company I never heard of. Here is a great example of website/UVP that’s company-centric and not client centric:
I dare you to scroll up and count the amount of times they said “we”, vs the amount of times they say “you”.
The results ain’t pretty. Zero times focus on the client.
The truth is, we, consumers, are selfish. We want to be treated best, feel understood, empathized, and see how spending money can solve our problem/fulfil our desire. When you land on that website, you need capital. But what you want to feel is certainty. Trust. Empathy.
Instead, what you get is 30 seconds of why Valor Capital is the best.
You are not the hero. They are. This is super important to understand.
So please, make sure your website shows:
How you solve THEIR problems
How do you provide THEM value
Why THEY should invest with you
How you make THEIR life easier.
Check out this web-page copy I did for Kotel Investments Inc., as it is heavily client-focused:
In a few words, what makes this copy great is the fact that it talks to both the logical and emotional sides of the prospect. Agitating how bad having a crappy landlord can feel like, empathizing with the prospect, and entertaining stability and growth, backed with rational social proof.
Ask yourself, what is the main purpose of your website as a whole?
What is the #1 thing you want your prospect to do?
To get subscribers and gain their email?
To get them to go on a phone call with you?
To get them into a room with you for a meeting?
To collect the demographics and re-target them with specifically targeted ads?
To collect client data, such as their emails or phone number? and for what purpose? Upgrade? Retention?
And based on this decision, the UI/UX team works with the copywriter to create a seamless, cohesive experience for the prospect -- leading them, using emotional triggers, resulting in a logical close.
Now, let’s look at some in-depth web copy for a big brand.
Here is a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse of how an expert copywriter thinks, and how even a Forbes featured startup who raised $60m VC money and made $100m yearly revenue can improve their website copy.
I approached Josh Stech, CEO of Sundae, a real estate startup that buys homes as-is, and gives the seller a $10k cash advance while ridding them of closing fees and headaches.
And this was the response I got from Joey Campbell, their head of content, who previously did marketing for Disney, Intel, AT&T, and UPS:
You can learn a lot from this email, like how I used what you just learned about subject lines, and how to write cold emails that actually work, but let’s focus on how you can learn top copywriting techniques for your website from my initial email to their CEO.
Specifically, let’s focus on the second bullet point from that email.
It was short in length but titanic deep complexity-wise.
Here are notes I wrote down for myself preparing for the call with Joey:
It’s obviously one example, and might not apply to you, but you can learn from it how a lead-focused-funnel marketing should work.
Joey agreed. I intentionally omitted parts of the text, but you get the gist.
My intention is not to flex. I want you to think how you can implement this into your own website. Or at least start thinking about copy and funnels in this manner from now on. Even if it's on a lower scale, with a lower budget.
Residential listing copy
I was helping an agent from Provenance Properties in the Cayman Islands with a property description. Take a look at this night and day difference.
You’re sharp enough to notice that the first description is a brick of text, not making the reader invested in reading it. Everything is told (sold) fast; talking about the features of the property.
But the house isn’t the hero, the buyer is.
Read that again.
And you aren’t a salesperson, you are guiding the hero (buyer) to his goal -- buying the home.
Notice the headline I added. There was no headline prior, just the address.
Notice how many times the word “you” appears in the old copy. I'll save you time. Zero.
But how do you guide them? Tell a story, so vivid, they can imagine themselves in it. Living there. In the story, notice how the features turned into benefits -- painting a picture in the prospect’s mind.
Commercial Listing copy
Just like residential listings copy, the same concept applies to commercial listings. But with commercial properties, the location matters more. The location will often decide the fate of the business. For restaurants, for example, location is fatal.
Here is an improved version of a commercial listing I did for Kotel Investments Inc. (The original listing doesn't exist anymore because it was already leased, and I didn't save a copy).
Notice the client-centered (and unique) headline, with the benefit of existing client traffic, and how I make them feel part of an exclusive pack of other great businesses around them. Also, I say how great the clientele traffic in the area is (I entertain the possible revenue opportunities, making it desirable).
Big brands fail in this category as well.
Just like you’ve seen with the luxury Cayman brokerage on the residential side, Durst, who owns the new WTC in Manhattan, has a fact sheet describing the property. It is full of features, like advanced & efficient plumbing systems, but it doesn’t say a word about the benefits.
Benefits like how this advanced plumbing system can save the client millions each year in water bills and could be channeled for growth; like for hiring talent or on ad-spend for brand exposure.
Hypothetically, if you were asked to pay $50m a year in rent for office space in this building, would you rather get a fact sheet telling you the water system is efficient, or a fact sheet telling you how this efficient water system saves you on average $9m a year in water bills, and how those 9 million you saved can get you a superbowl ad spot resulting in 30 million eyeballs watching your brand on national TV?
The numbers I used are arbitrary. The concept is definitive.
Digital 3D & 360 Tours copy (Space and Item Descriptions)
Even before the pandemic, touring properties virtually was a thing. Today, it is becoming a basic need in order to attract buyers and increase desire. These engaging tours create something that a video cannot.
An interactive gamified experience that puts you in the driver's seat. Matterport is probably the leading brand when it comes to executing that.
And with this experience the need for customer-centered copy intensifies.
Walking digitally in this Matterport example, you can see the white circles. Press on them, and you’re “digitally teleported” to that spot.
Here, in this picture, I hovered with my mouse over the kitchen table. Nothing happened. That’s not really engaging.
A simple way to engage would be a text bubble popping when hovering above the table with the mouse featuring the item’s description, like how prestigious is the wood it's made from, or what exotic country it came from.
A more sophisticated way of engaging the prospect will be having that same text box pop-up, and tell a short story, painting a picture. A benefit. “Dine with all your friends and visiting family on this luxurious custom-made oak wooden table imported from Sri Lanka”.
Next, I hovered with my mouse over the stairs, and nothing happened. You have to click to actually go there (or up).
Imagine if a box of text popped up, saying: “Go Upstairs”. Gives you control, and feedback.
Better yet, imagine having a box popping up saying: “I want to see the upstairs”. Conversational, human, something you’d say to the showing agent. Now that’s powerful.
The more vivid the item description, the better. The more conversational and engaging the copy is, a more powerful immersion occurs. The purpose of the copy is to replace the conversation with the showing agent, as best as possible.
Imagine if you recorded the sounds of walking in the space, with echos and everything, with each flooring type producing a different sound; and then implementing that in the experience; so not only eyesight is engaged, but hearing as well. That's next level.
But I digress.
Video Script copy (YouTube)
Real Estate showing videos are the bread and butter for many top players in the space.
Excluding the few very talented individuals who just naturally speak in a fluent conversational sales pitch on camera, most of us need a well-written script to execute at a high level.
A good script needs to be conceptualized by getting adequate information about the property, the goals, and vision for the finished video.
A good video is a specific video.
That’s why asking questions is a top priority in organizing the content brief; what the video is expected to accomplish, how long will it be, where exactly the video will be displayed (screen ratio), what features (benefits) are you focusing on, and in what order are you showing the property.
Most importantly, the script must be conversational, just like any other type of copy. It cannot feel like a lecture, or a museum tour. It needs to feel like the agent is friendly, and talking to you about what’s cool about this home. Depending on the target audience, the right terminology is key.
So whether the video is demonstrational, commercial, promotional or a testimonial, these elements must be weaved in the script to meet the specific goal.
Newsletters are amazing for two reasons:
It is a very personal way of communicating with your client.
It is not affected by algorithm changes, like social media platforms.
Meaning, you get to talk one-on-one with your ideal buyer/best clients, and you are not restricted by an algorithm update. You always reach the recipients, and If you write well, you will sell. Period.
It’s important that you know what is the purpose of your newsletter, or how you segment your audience.
Cold leads (first time subs)
Warm leads (high open rates, replied to you, know your brand/subscribed for a while)
Buyers (bought in the past and are likely to keep buying)
Now, regardless if your newsletter is educational, aimed to increase brand awareness and trust, or you’re trying to sell; the subject lines and body copy are your top priority.
Tips for a better newsletter:
Know your audience.
Provide value. Always.
Be conversational. Write like you talk to one friend. Use “you” and first names.
Be open. Talk about your own struggles and how you overcame them. Be relatable.
Engage the reader. Ask questions, have polls, quizzes, and offer giveaway/rewards.
Break the rules. Be funny. Use memes, GIFs, and have inside jokes. Make the reader feel part of an exclusive pack.
Here are a few examples from my newsletter:
Make fun of yourself:
2. Admit your own mistakes and be open:
3. Make them feel part of an exclusive club; and give value:
Blog (SEO DRIVEN) copy
Blog content is one of the best ways to gain attention, traction, and become an authority in your field. Some claim it is an outdated way of marketing, and that you should stand out and stop writing like everyone else.
I still believe that high-quality content will always be in need, and that people will read your stuff if it’s written well, informative, and presented in an attractive manner. That said, it is only one of many ways of marketing in 2021.
Take a look at this stunning recent blog post by Storage Cafe for example.
The headline asks a very interesting question using a curiosity hook, followed by a promise to deliver value regardless of which state you’re from. Curiosity + Relevancy.
It is value-packed, with precise analytics that are hard to find, and everything is presented in the brand’s color, including maps and graphs.
SEO wise, the H1 headline and meta-title contain the keywords “self-storage” and “cost” which is what this whole article is about. However, these keywords are non-existent in the first 100 words, nor in any of the H2 or H3 headlines. It does appear in the picture description at the very bottom, but Google would like to see it much sooner -- at the top of the page.
It’s plausible they were targeting other long-tail-keyphrases, but I would still include it in the very beginning.
SEO aside, readability of the first section/opening could be improved, as there is no opening, no sub-headers, and the reader encounters a wall of text.
Here are two examples of how a good opening should look like:
A blog post I’ve (ghost)written for Astro Flipping:
2. And me practicing what I preach on my own website:
Some practical tips for your next blog post:
Provide value, go beyond. Quality, not quantity. And even though Google tends to reward longer posts as it sees them as more informative; Google is smart, and Quality will triumph.
SEO; check the CPC and Difficulty. Some keywords may surprise you. Not all difficult keywords are worth money in terms of clicks - and vice versa. Implement your keywords in the meta-title, H1, first 100 words, and even H2 if possible.
Write less journalistic, and more conversational. You’re not a magazine that costs $12 a month, you’re trying to have an identity, so write with brand voice in mind. Be different. Your goal is not to be liked by everyone, but to be relatable to your target audience.
Surprise the reader with your flow, don’t be monotonous with 5 line paragraphs over 2000 words. Use one-liners, use short sentences, and use an active voice, just like I did throughout this article. Also, don’t overwhelm your reader with walls of text. Break them up, use white space, visuals, lists, bullet-points, and GIFs for smiles. Value, and smiles. The reader wins, you win, everyone wins.
Social Media copy (Ads & Captions)
LinkedIn, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook; if you don’t have ads and/or content on at least one of those, you’ll find it difficult to compete and be seen.
An ad on social media could target people based on hashtags, profiles, and of course interest (search inputs and re-targeting). Regardless of the reason you post on social media, you need to do it with precision.
It is a battlefield out there, and you are fighting for attention like never before. Heck, top neuroscientists and creatives are being paid by silicon valley giants (like Facebook) millions of dollars each year to engineer patterns and systems that make users linger and read just a bit longer.
You need a goal, a plan, and great engaging copy. Something spicy, unique, controversial even.
Check out the copy on this post I’ve made for @thebusinesshacks on IG:
Funny, sad, challenging, and controversial, all at the same time.
If this was an ad with a clear CTA; for investing in an RE ETF, buying a course on property investing or for actually buying a property, I think it would stand out and prevail.
Even when providing value and not selling anything, you need to stand out (IG story I made):
And let’s finish with property descriptions I made for IG stories:
Colors are popping, quality is superb, and the copy is sharp and easy to read.
And this property description in an IG post caption I made for an agent from ‘The Agency’:
See the night & day differences, and ask yourself the three questions I asked the agent at the end.
What now? Conclusion
You just learned a ton of new stuff. How to stand out with your website, emails, blogs, listings, newsletters, social media, 3D tours, and video scripts.
If you feel overwhelmed, you don’t have to.
Tackle one or two of these each quarter, leading to a healthy year of growth. If you are short on budget, invest the time and do these yourself. If you are short on time and have the financial bandwidth, delegate to a professional who can help.
So go out there, cut through the noise. I wish you a year of converting copy.