Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Are They Reading You Right?
Your online bio tells prospects whether you’re the kind of person they want to work with. Here’s how to craft a profile that will make them say yes.
April 20, 2015
Clients don’t always get their first impression of you face to face. Because consumers are turning more to the Internet for real estate information, they usually are first introduced to you via your online bio or “About Me” section on your website.
These bios are intended to provide insight into your expertise and work ethic as well as a peek into who you are as a person. In a business like real estate, where relationships are paramount, your bio can make all the difference in scoring clients.
Hear It From the Horse’s Mouth
REALTOR® Magazine convened a panel of consumers in January to review a handful of bios submitted by agents from around the country. It was an insight into what consumers care about most when it comes to agent profiles. Find out what was important to them: What Your Online “About Me” Says About You.
“A good agent bio can set the stage for trust,” says Marte Cliff, a real estate copywriter and former broker-owner. “But it can be difficult to write about yourself. You don’t want to come across with no personality or have it sound like an essay for an English teacher. You want to use your bio to talk about what you do and how you can benefit clients.”
More real estate agencies are realizing the importance of how a bio can leverage connections with a prospect. Some brokerages are restructuring their websites to make hunting for the right agent based on what agents say in their bio. The Corcoran Group in New York, for example, crafted its “Find an Agent“ page so users can search for agents not only by market but also by hobbies — say, whether they like cooking, animals, art, or theater — or even the college the agent attended. From agents’ bio pages, prospects can also connect with them on Facebook or LinkedIn to see if they share any mutual friends or connections.
The growing importance of online bios is prompting some agents to hire copywriters to write them, which costs between $150 and $350. But even with professional help, how do you know if your bio is connecting with prospects? Here are several tips for crafting a better bio:
Don’t Make It All About You
Your bio should highlight your expertise, previous work experience, accomplishments, and hobbies. But every part should emphasize the benefits to the client.
“Read your bio from your customer’s perspective,” says real estate copywriter Valerie Haboush, who writes real estate bios and property descriptions for real estate professionals across the country. A long list of all your awards and education may make you sound successful, but it also may sound intimidating to prospects.
Answer These Questions in Your Bio
Haboush created a questionnaire that she asks her real estate clients to fill out. The questions seek to go deeper into the services they offer clients, so their bios don’t rely on clichés. Some of the questions include:
- How would your friends or family describe you?
- How do you educate your customers about the real estate market?
- Why did you choose real estate?
- What is your real estate philosophy?
- Why would someone hire you to find or sell a property?
- What compliments have you typically heard from past or present co-workers and clients?
- What qualities do your family and friends appreciate most about you?
- If you were shopping for or selling your own apartment, what would you want in a REALTOR® if you hired someone? What do you think makes a good broker?
- How does the experience gained in your previous career relate to the necessary qualities you feel are needed in your real estate profession?
“Deep down, people want to know the basic stuff: What will you do for me? Will you listen to my needs? Will you help save me time and money? Will you spend time to explain to me what’s going on?” Haboush says. “Your bio can’t be all about how you graduated with honors, worked at a top law firm prior to real estate, and so on. How about the customer? If you were going to sit down and have a conversation with a customer, would you only talk about yourself?”
Choose Your Point of View
Don’t change your writing style from third-person to first-person throughout your bio. Third-person tends to sound more professional, and because it gives the impression that someone else is talking about your successes, it sounds less like you’re bragging, Haboush says. But a hometown real estate agent with a more nurturing personality may prefer first-person because it’s a more casual tone. That may be less appropriate for an agent who is targeting investors or luxury clientele, Haboush says.
Your bio should not be just a list of facts about your accomplishments and expertise. It should also give a sense of who you are, says Cliff. Briefly include your interests outside of real estate, such as your hobbies or organizations you volunteer for.
Think of how much more of a well-rounded impression you give a prospect when you include a statement at the end of your bio such as: “In my spare time, I love to take my dogs and children hiking.” You’ve just told the prospect you’re athletic, a parent, and an animal lover. Those are three things they could potentially connect with you on.
Avoid the Clichés
You’re “trustworthy” and the “neighborhood expert,” right? So is everyone else. These are very common buzzwords that often appear in real estate bios, so they don’t really set you apart.
“If all you share is a list of your designations and a generic statement such as, ‘I’m dedicated to helping you reach your goals,’ your prospects have nothing to distinguish you from everyone else,” Cliff says. “And since they’ve heard those ‘I’m the best’ statements so many times, they may even react with skepticism.”
The fact that you even have to say you’re “trustworthy” can appear odd to prospects, Haboush adds. “Your buyers should read your bio as a warm welcome. Trust doesn’t come from reading a bio; you have to earn it,” she says.
Instead, talk about how you show that you’re trustworthy or the neighborhood expert. Consider these examples:
- Haboush writes of one client’s trustworthiness: “It takes a smart, savvy, expert real estate professional to navigate the intricate New York market and help clients seize opportunity when it strikes. She’s an agent who is that valuable weapon for finding hidden gems, streamlining intricate board approvals, negotiating great deals, and delivering exceptional results. Only an industry leader like her can draw on her invaluable knowledge, connections, and resources to pull out all the stops for her clients’ ultimate satisfaction.”
- Cliff describes her client’s local expertise like this: “A lifetime resident of Las Vegas, David not only knows the community, he’s glad to share his knowledge. … He has visited and researched every luxury high-rise and high-end community in Las Vegas and Henderson. When you’re looking for a home in a specific price range offering a specific set of amenities, David knows exactly where to focus your search.”
Use only terms that will be familiar to a general readership, and avoid industry jargon. A list in your bio of all the real estate designations you earned — from ABR to GRI and SRES — can look like alphabet soup to prospects. Spell out each designation and say what it means, why you earned it, and how your clients will benefit from it.
Don’t Get Too Wordy
Cliff keeps the real estate bios she writes to around 400 words, but some brokerage sites or social media channels may limit your bio to just 150 words. If needed, have a short, generic “who I am” statement and then link to more information, such as “if you’re buying…” or “if you’re selling…” There, you can go more into your expertise in each of those areas. To avoid interfering with the flow of your bio’s narrative, you may choose to include a bullet-point list of your services, awards, or education at the end instead of including a long list within your bio.
Keep Safety in Mind
Don’t reveal too much in your bio. Avoid mentioning your address as well as your children’s names, ages, and what schools they attend. “Agents used to put the schools in as a way to form a connection, but if you’re going to market to your kids’ schools, do that in a separate way,” Haboush says.
Have someone else review your bio, such as a colleague or mentor. Some bios unintentionally make you sound unapproachable, egotistical, or like too much of a novice, says Haboush. Ask your proofreader: “Do you think this really speaks to who I am?” Your proofreader can also help catch any grammar and spelling errors. Even one typo can damage a professional image, Cliff adds.
Revisit Your Bio Once a Year
Your bio shouldn’t have to be updated very often — only when you have a new skill set or niche to add or you changed jobs. Therefore, make sure your bio is written in a timeless way. Instead of writing “I’ve been in the business for seven years,” try saying “I’ve been in the business since 2008.” That way you don’t date it, Haboush recommends. Regardless, reread your bio at least once a year to make sure it’s still projecting your brand.
Remember, “your bio is a narrative of why you love being a real estate agent,” Cliff says. “Instead of saying ‘I’m great’ and ‘I’m better,’ say what you are going to do for your client and why you’re the person to do it.”