Who Are Property Details Written For?

This week I’ve done a minor and completely unscientific survey - and come up with what was, to me, a surprising and unanimous view from property professionals.

I asked 10 trusted contacts who I respect within the business (five estate agents, three lettings agents and two buying agents) one simple question: “Who are property details written for?”

The answer in every single case, usually with very little hesitation, was: “the seller”. No, not the buyer but the seller.

Many property details reach my inbox, often draft details in PDF form of properties going on sale shortly. I have often noticed how some agents spend a lot more effort on them than others, and adopt fiercely contrasting styles.

For example, most central London estate agents put in very little prose (sometimes just a paragraph or two at most) but put in a floorplan, square footage and other core information, plus perhaps one or two (rarely more) photographs. It’s when you see the price tag at £1m or more that you wonder why the details are so minimal - and indeed why the vendor was presumably happy with that.

The majority of agents selling homes outside of the capital have a more balanced approach of prose, details and pictures.

A very few others, again chiefly outside London, put in extraordinarily long descriptions - have a look at the property details created by Fine estate agency (here). In its own words it wants to “truly connect” with potential buyers and the result is, the company says, “far more engaging than traditional agency's uninspiring lists.”

But this discrepancy in approach to the length and thoroughness of the details made me wonder - who are these details for?

Are buyers in central London always happy with one side of A4, which is now often the norm, while those purchasing in the country insist on eight page brochures for a property that may be valued at half the price? I suspect not.

Hence my question to my contacts, and then the answer. As one person put it: “The details are to show the vendor we’re doing something.”

The agents' logic in each case was that prospective buyers shortlist these days on the internet, making judgements on images more than prose, and using Streetview and Google Maps. They pay little attention to the text details, outside of location, bedroom numbers or floorspace, and price.

In which case, why bother with brochures at all?

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