How to Create a Fantastic Feature Sheet

The piece of paper that prospective buyers take away from your open house can determine whether they make an offer or keep looking.

July 1, 2005

When buyers are choosing from several homes they’ve seen, or deciding which property to look at next, there’s one selling tool that’s indispensable even in the electronic age: the listing feature sheet.

The feature sheet or flyer contains visuals of the home to jog the buyer's memory, lays out special amenities of the home and neighborhood, and provides the listing agent's contact information. The sheet should be a capsule of the home's best qualities in an easy-to-read format that buyers can compare with sheets from other properties as they make their deliberations.

This important tool can be distributed at open houses, mailed to prospective buyers, placed by the yard sign for drive-by buyers and real estate professionals, e-mailed, or put on the Web. So, how do you produce a feature sheet that will result in a sale? Here are some pointers that will help you improve this essential part of your marketing plan:

  • Use quality photographs. Any house you list is worth documenting in photos with a digital camera, a roll of film, or by a professional photographer. Take pictures of the front and back of the home, landscaping, main rooms, and any details of interest. Unusual nooks, a unique floor plan, or a distinctive-looking stairwell can tell the story of the home and make it memorable. Also, include local neighborhood sites like the park down the street, the jogging trail, or golf course. Remember, when taking photos of the house, leave out the yard sign. While that may sound blasphemous to some, a for-sale sign in a photograph distracts from the house and grounds.
  • Provide detailed captions. Dens, family rooms, and game rooms often look alike, so be sure to distinguish the rooms by name and draw attention to their most attractive features. For example: "State-of-the-art kitchen with new granite counters, stainless appliances." When highlighting more obvious features, such as a swimming pool, captions enhance the photo and make the feature more alluring: "Custom-designed heated diving pool with imported tile and computerized controls, installed Spring '04." Each word conveys vital information; by reading it, the buyer will know that the pool is one year old and not original to the home, that it is deep enough for diving, that it’s easy to operate, and that it’s a luxurious amenity. Isn't that much better than "Gorgeous Pool" or "Custom Pool"?
  • Improve your promotional writing. Avoid using exclamations to describe the property. In an amateurish attempt to excite buyers, many practitioners hype instead of sell. "New! Charming! Won't last!" are such overused phrases that they’ve lost their meaning, and they’re especially ineffective when captioning the photo of a poorly maintained home. Instead, hit the buyer with desirable features at the first glance. The same "Charming!" house could be better described as, "Affordable three-bedroom bungalow near shopping and schools offers original tile baths, wood floors, and 'shabby chic' interior decor." You’ve conveyed the price, size, condition, and convenience of the home—yet you’ve also left room for potential buyers to make their own judgments. Use a bullet-point list of amenities if they won't fit in an opening paragraph.
  • Write for the buyer, not the real estate practitioner. MLS information is for real estate professionals, not consumers. When creating your feature sheet, don't copy data from the MLS listing and paste it on your feature sheet. Industry jargon and abbreviations might convey vital statistics concisely to other real estate experts, but buyers can’t be expected to understand it. Buyers are using the sheets to compare homes and features, and insider codes don't accomplish that goal.
  • Take the buyer online for more information. Expand your service by including your Web site address and a special note that says something like: "For more detailed photos of interior views and neighborhood features, see this home at www.yourwebaddress.com/thishouse." You also can lead the buyer to virtual tours or online video commercials. Give the exact Web address and make sure that your site includes a button that will allow the buyer to view additional homes. On your feature sheet, you also can include Web sites of local interest, such as the local chamber of commerce, employers, public transportation, sports teams, the school system, day care, and senior care.
  • Consider enlisting a professional. If you don't have the time or expertise to create a high-quality feature sheet, and there’s no one on your broker's staff to help out, check with your local MLS to see if there are approved vendors who can do it for you. Or, you may consider hiring a virtual assistant who can create the feature sheet and e-mail it to you for download, printing, and distribution. A virtual assistant also can distribute the feature sheet to prospects and past clients.

As consumers become more sophisticated, so must your listing’s feature sheets. Today’s buyers want more information in an easy-to-use format, with lots of photos. The better you are promoting your listings on a feature sheet, the more successful you’ll become at selling.

(c) Copyright 2005 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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