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DIY - Sell Your House Yourself - How To Write Real Estate Copy That Sells - Part 3

Updated on April 17, 2012

What style is your home? Here are a few examples:

A classic center hall colonial
A classic center hall colonial | Source
The practical & sturdy 4 Square - classic 1940's design
The practical & sturdy 4 Square - classic 1940's design | Source
Urban beauty, a grand old Brownstone, 1914
Urban beauty, a grand old Brownstone, 1914 | Source

Write Your Ad = Sell Your House

In my previous articles in this series—How To Write Real Estate Copy That Sells - Part 1 & Part 2—we made a detailed list of your home’s features, going through the house room by room. That list is the outline for your ad, so let’s look it over and start writing!

First, develop a great opening sentence that begins with these elements:

1. The style of your home, for example: “center hall colonial,” “rancher,” “split level” or “contemporary.” (Please note that the only need for capitalization is if the style contains a name, as in Tudor revival, Victorian or California mission. Too many capitals will make your ad look amateurish, so keep them to a minimum.)

2. An adjective that best describes the most positive over-all feature of your home, as in: “stately Victorian,” “mid-century modern gem,” “lovingly-maintained split level,” “energy-efficient rancher,” or “charming colonial.”

3. It’s location, highlighting the best thing about where your property is situated, such as: “near Doylestown in the desirable Central Bucks school district,” “in Melrose Park with an easy walk to train station,” “on quiet, tree-lined street in Germantown,” “in sought-after Old City with ample, nearby, safe parking,” or “in Bedminster, where Bucks County’s rural past is still alive and well.” (Note once again that capitalization is kept to a minimum to avoid a sentence that “screams” at the potential buyer.)

Your first sentence is so crucial to the success of your ad that I recommend spending as much time on it as on the entire rest of the ad. Read it out loud—that’s the best way to proof read your own work and get as sense of how the words flow. And don’t be afraid to put your home in the best possible light. If your house is in ill repair, then it’s also “ready for your creative touch.” If it’s small, it’s definitely also “energy-efficient.” A big, sprawling house is “spacious,” a house on a tiny lot can honestly boast of “easy care lawn and gardens,” and those vintage bathrooms and kitchen are “ready to restore.” (Avoid the word “remodel” as it implies a much more expensive project than does “restore.”)

You can do it!


More home design examples:

A gorgeous stone farmhouse, circa 1745
A gorgeous stone farmhouse, circa 1745 | Source
High Victorian, 1856
High Victorian, 1856 | Source

Once you have a polished first sentence, begin describing your house, keeping the different areas of your property in the same order in which we listed them in the previous article in this series. Choose adjectives with care but do not be afraid to use them; while photos can tell a lot (we’ll get to them in an upcoming article in this series), words are also critical when communicating with potential buyers.

Use both the spell and grammar checker features of the software in which you write your ad, but also make use of the style references to which I’ve provided links. The goal of your ad is to call attention to the best features of your property, and incorrect spelling or awkward punctuation and sentence structure can detract from that purpose. In fact, the wrong punctuation can completely change the meaning of your sentence, as these classic examples illustrate:

Woman! Without her, man is nothing.

Woman, without her man, is nothing.

Mark said Lisa is smart.

Mark, said Lisa, is smart.

So take care with your wording and be sure that you are saying what you intend to say!

Clean & elegant, Modern style
Clean & elegant, Modern style | Source
Charm & craftsmanship, Tudor Revival, 1923
Charm & craftsmanship, Tudor Revival, 1923 | Source
The height of cool, from 1969, a superb example of Split Level design
The height of cool, from 1969, a superb example of Split Level design | Source

Once you have written your ad—going from the exterior front entrance through the “public” rooms, then the “private” rooms, then the backyard and grounds—you are ready to write your closing sentence, which is nearly as important as your opening line.

Here is where you get to boast about another great feature of your house—the realistic asking price you have set based on the research I described in the some of the previous articles in this series, How To Set An Asking Price, Parts 1 and 2. It’s also a good place to reiterate the single most positive thing about your house.

Below find an example of an ad I wrote that follows the format I have recommended in this article, along with comments that explain each paragraph. Feel free to use it as a template for your ad.

Sell your house yourself and save thousands!


A Sample Real Estate Ad

This sun-filled, spacious center hall colonial in the desirable Cheltenham School District features the superior materials and craftsmanship of the 1950s, combined with a modern open floor plan and sparkling new cherry-granite-stainless kitchen.

(The two best features of the house—the updated floor plan and new kitchen—are highlighted in the first sentence of this ad, along with the quality construction of the house and its premium location.)

The solid stone and brick exterior invites you into the large bright foyer flanked by charming matching archways leading to a bright living room with a marble-surround fireplace, and a dining room big enough for even the largest holiday meal—both rooms feature extraordinary woodwork and deep bay windows looking out on the leafy front yard and lush perennial gardens.

(The “public” rooms—the formal living and dining rooms—are described first. Even though most of us do not entertain in the formal sense very often, a big dining room is still high on the list of desired features in a home—along with fireplaces—and deserves mention in this ad.)

The kitchen is simply perfect, designed with the serious cook in mind, and it opens to a bright Great Room with a cathedral ceiling and loads of windows so you can enjoy the mature shade trees in the securely fenced back yard. A wonderful half bath with fabulous tile work and generous study/home office complete the first floor, which has gleaming hardwood floors throughout.

(The backyard is moved upward in this ad because the view of it from the Great Room—capitalized only to distinguish it from a great room—is a significant feature of the house. Hardwood floors—once considered terribly dated and covered up by wall-to-wall carpeting, are back in vogue and a real plus, worthy of a place in any ad.)

Upstairs you will find more hardwood floors, four large bedrooms, two more fantastic full-tile baths, a big cedar closet, lots and lots of closets and easy access to a fully finished attic that has enough space for all your storage needs.

(Closet and storage space are huge selling points for any real estate, so the ones in this house get prominent attention.)

But don’t forget to check out the fully finished basement with another big Great Room—this one with a wet bar and exercise area—a laundry room, another full bath, a garage and yet more storage space. All of this in a safe, friendly, tree-lined neighborhood, offered at a terrific price!

(While the attributes of the neighborhood can be placed in the first sentence of an ad, in this case I moved them to the closing to give it extra punch and to underscore the value of the location at a reasonable asking price.)

Selling real estate is in many ways no different than selling anything else, and the key is a combination of honesty and making your home appealing to potential buyers. To this end, below are a few lists I hope will prove helpful.

The sign you want at the end of your driveway


The single best feature of my house is:

See results

Adjectives That Sell Real Estate











Move-in condition






Adjectives That Will Attract Some Buyers But May Repel Others

(This doesn't mean don't use them, but be aware they may have a negative connotation to some potential buyers. However, remember that it only takes ONE buyer to sell a house! If one of these words best describes a feature in your home, then go for it.)


One of a kind




Architect designed



Adjectives to Avoid


Unusual - Both “unique” and “unusual” can imply “weird” or “strange.”

Dark - Avoid it in any context, including “dark oak floors,” “dark maple paneling”

Small - Try “compact,” “energy-efficient” or “space saving” instead

Descriptives That Are Over-Used in Real Estate Ads

(This doesn’t mean don’t ever use them, but be aware they are clichés)





High end - Use “superior quality” instead

Any word followed by multiple exclamation points. Try to stay to only one ! per ad.

Features About Which to Brag

Closets: big, lots of them and/or walk in are all pluses

Large, new, restored or updated kitchen

New or restored baths

Storage, especially if it is inside the house and easy access

Move in condition, which has to mean exactly that


Decks, patios, sheds and other exterior features

Outstanding architectural design, whether exterior or interior, is always worthy of mention, as is any historical interest your property may hold.

(I am an artist and the author of the Suburban Sprawl series of novels as well as two nonfiction books. Find out more about my work at

Copyright © Roberta Lee 2012. All rights reserved.


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    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Congratulations! Do you have a signed Agreement of Sale with the buyer? Or do you have an good offer but as of yet nothing in writing? Either way I suggest you have an attorney work with you through the final steps, or sign up at in order to download the forms you will need to go to settlement as well as get very good advice from them. Both the lawyer or ForSaleByOwner will cost money, but they can potentially save you a lot more money by helping with the legal technicalities of a real estate transaction.

    • profile image

      helena davies 5 years ago

      now we have sold our house what do we have to do

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thank you!

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      That's great. I will be sure to check out your other articles on this topic and share with others who may be planning to sell their house on their own.

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks Kathy! Selling it yourself worked great for me, and I'll be continuing this series with tips on photography, staging your house, setting up showings and open houses, the fine art of negotiation and the legal part of the process, so keep reading!

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      There are lots of great tips in this article. We have always used a real estate agent to buy and sell our houses, but I see more people deciding to do it on their own lately, and it makes a lot of sense. I would seriously consider going this route next time. I'm off to read the other parts of this series now...

    • DIYmyOmy profile image

      DIYmyOmy 5 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Please tell me about your home selling (or buying experiences); I'd love to hear from you!