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By George Nicola (Expert Stager)

When selling a home, whether old or new, it is worth describing it with the most fitting, suggestive, and convincing way. You need to know the various characteristics of an old house because a boring and monotonous description like “this old house is 165 years old but still good as new” will probably keep your house in the market for longer than expected.   

As a homeowner or a home seller, you must acknowledge that a house is not just bricks and mortar to homebuyers, but a dream home to them in most cases. When selling an old home, describe it with the goal of exciting readers until they are compelled to reach out to you. We have cherry-picked the below tried and tested tips and tricks of describing old houses to attract potential buyers.

7 Tips on How to Describe an Old House for Sale

How To Describe An Old House For Sale (3)
Create a memorable headline for your property / Image made with midjourney

Create a Memorable Headline

The headline is one of the most important parts of an old house description. Don’t write it in ALL CAPS. David Ogilvy, the ‘Father of Advertising’ often remarked that in every ad, the headline takes up 80% of its impression.

This means that an old house description with a bad headline will turn off all your potential buyers even before they read on for further details.

Let’s say your old house for sale is in a near-perfect condition, but the title of your description reads like ‘Executive four-bedroom home with well-maintained gardens and luxury fittings.’ Such a generally stated headline will not make any buyer excited enough to reach out to you. 

A headline like, ‘Imagine coming home to this landscaped 6 bedroom in Windermere’ is enough to excite a potential buyer and get your property noticed for all the right reasons. 

In a nutshell, the headline of your old house can only be memorable if you sprinkle it with words that add value.

You can use unbiased but admirable words like “landscaped,” “luxurious,” and “impeccable,” which have been found to boost sales prices. For instance, if the master bedroom of your old house has a Jacuzzi tub, using the world ‘luxurious’ in the headline will be positively reflected in your subsequent descriptions.

Describe the Old House Systematically

To help readers visualize the position of every room, ensure you describe your old house for sale systematically.

This means that depending on where you start your description, don’t skip to another room in the far end of your old house; for example, starting with the garage and skipping to the kitchen and then to the attic.

Help your potential buyers picture the house in mind by describing rooms that are closest to each other before moving on to the rest. 

Take time to tour the house and jot down description ideas for each conspicuous part. 

  • Does your house have a bead-board ceiling? Columns? Porch? 
  • What sounds do an old porch make? 
  • Are the walls, ceilings and floorboards painted? What colour?
  • Are there any chipped paint on the walls? How many layers of paint?
  • Are the doors and windows wooden-framed? Any creaky hinges? Broken handles?
  • Does your old house have a screen door? Painted? Wood? Gingerbread on it? 

As you write the description of each room, you don’t need to mention any dimensions. This is not only because they can be easily taken out of context, but also because they interrupt the flow of the story when readers find the numbers too difficult to understand.

However, dimensions are a must when describing floorplans.

Generally, aim to write an intriguing and emotionally convincing opening paragraph, followed by a ‘tour’ of the house.

Supercharge Your Adjectives

Sprinkle your old house description with adjectives / Image made with midjourney

Is your old house description sprinkled with adjectives that induce homely warmth and relaxation?

Words like welcoming and cozy may appeal to buyers initially, but you need to go the extra mile to pull their emotional buying strings.

Be descriptive, and avoid going overboard with your compliments. Get creative with relevant adjectives to paint a picture of your old house but do not distract potential buyers from reality by using too many extra adjectives.

To influence the reader uniquely, first, describe the imagery of your old house, including sounds, sights, and a general aura of the home.

When describing the sounds, use relevant adjectives, such as ‘whistling’ in the windows, ‘creaking’ for stairs or floorings, or ‘mysterious’ noises in the attic. And then, you can describe the smell in the old house using adjectives like damp, dank, musky, or stale, which generally describe an aged environment.

Secondly, describe the general appearance of the house by focusing on the elements that can be used to estimate its age. For example, there may be ‘chipped’ walls, ‘crooked’ shutters, or ‘cracked’ floor panels.

You can also add details of the house temperature using adjectives such as chilly, warm, vacant, etc. In addition, to detail the age of your old house, use imagery such as dark hallways or dusty furniture. 

How To Describe An Old House For Sale (2)
Highlight the unique features of home / Image made with midjourney

Highlight Unique Features

The character can help sell a home. This is why mentioning a few remarkable home features in your old house description is essential, especially if it is for a real estate listing. Highlighting some unique features can easily convert one of the potential buyers into the right buyer. In addition, if your description includes a home feature that many potential buyers appreciate, they can be excited enough to schedule a showing. 

You must be detailed about some key features of the home that suggest its age. For example, is there an original stained glass window in the entryway? Panes of glass in older homes were relatively small because they were expensive.

For example, windows were taxed during the 18th and 19th centuries in England, France, and Ireland. Is there a fireplace in the primary bedroom? Homes originally had fireplaces for heat and light before coal and gas were used for lighting. 

Dirt floors and rock foundations characterized many old houses and basements since they were built by carving out the ground.

In some countries, older homes did not have closets, but cupboards, because a closet could be taxed as another room. As you highlight the unique features of your home, conduct some research on similar old homes to help potential buyers differentiate your listing from thousands of others.

Avoid Red Flag Words

Your choice of words in the old house description is the key to making potential buyers fall in love with it online. Find euphemisms that can throw some flattering light onto your old home, obscure any imperfections, and boost the final selling price, but avoid red flag words.

In a study that targeted 24,000 homes carried out by Zillow, it was found that certain words have the potential to hurt your home listing.

These words include:

  • TLC – This term can jerk your heartstrings, but it is another sneaky code word for a house that needs major renovations. Avoid using it at all times, along with the following synonyms “fixer-upper,” “great potential,” “handyman’s delight,” “DIY,” or “great bones.” Such words might sound like tearing down the entire house and rebuilding it.

  • CharmingThis term generally describes a small or outdated home. A real estate listing described as lovely is worth checking out for homebuyers who are seeking a move-in-ready place, even if it has obsolete features. Related words to avoid are ‘adorable,’ ‘quaint,’ and ‘tons of character.’

  • Cozy – While this word inspires many positive vibes, it is usually a code word for small in real estate listings. You can find unbiased ways of hinting to potential buyers that a room is tiny before they schedule a physical viewing. For example, if your old house is tiny, describe it as ‘intimate’ or ‘efficient.’

Avoid these terms unless your home needs major renovations and is priced accordingly. 

Double Check Your Punctuations

In an analysis of listings priced at more than $1 million, it was found that ‘perfect’ listings that are well written with grammatically correct spellings and sentences not only sell three days faster but are also 10% more likely to sell for more than their list price. Therefore, an old house description written using complete sentences and proper punctuation is easy to follow for most readers.

Furthermore, whether your old house for sale is close to perfect, you don’t have to end every sentence with an exclamation to emphasize your descriptions! This does not mean you don’t use any punctuation. Break the description into small paragraphs of 2-3 sentences because long, run-on sentences are hard to follow and information gets lost.

Add a Call to Action

Add a call to action in your description / Image made with midjourney

Even with a captivating description of an old house, it is important to make it easy for potential buyers to feel invited to view the property.

Towards the end of your description, don’t forget to provide the reader with various ways of contacting you if they like the property. Feel free to add some urgency to it by setting an offer deadline and making it clear that you won’t accept any offers before then.

Adding a call to action, such as a phone number, email address, or office location can make the buyer take action immediately if possible instead of letting them skip to other listings because you did not provide a way to contact you. 

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t write the headline in ALL CAPS.
  • Describe the old house systematically to help readers visualize the position of the rooms.
  • Get creative with relevant adjectives and avoid going overboard with compliments.
  • Be detailed about some key features of the home that suggest its age.
  • Avoid these red flag words: cozy, charming, and TLC.
  • Use complete sentences and proper punctuation.
  • Add a call to action, such as a phone number, email address, and office location.

George Nicola

VIRTUAL STAGING EXPERT / After eight years+ working in high-end design and property business I realised that we are missing a critical part of the property business. We were not providing enough value to these old and empty properties. Not every buyer would have the opportunity to see the potential of vacant property or in a bad state. The idea of Virtual Furniture Staging the property gives the buyer and seller an incredible chance in seconds of taking the critical decision.
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