The power of storytelling in property listings

News at Howland Jones | 01/09/2023

The power of stories is key to the success of the human race. It’s how we learn and what sets us apart from other species. We all love a good story. “We are…addicted to story. Even when the body goes to sleep, the mind stays up all night, telling itself stories.” So said Jonathan Gottschall, The Storytelling Animal.

And in today’s world we are bombarded with stories 24/7. In the books we read, the websites we visit, the TV we watch and the movies we pay to see. Every big deal that happens in our lives has a story attached – every death in the family, every marriage, every birth, every new job, every house move.

And if we take that last one: ‘every house move’ – it almost certainly began with something as simple as a property listing. To be upfront and honest at the start, far and away the most important factors when selling a property are price and location.

But in order to attract as many potential buyers as possible, it is important to entice interest from the very start of the process and that means injecting narrative into the listing. By doing so, you are inviting buyers to take the story on and develop the themes, write their own chapters, create new characters and craft new plot lines.

But how? Most of us haven’t the time or inclination to dig so deeply into our property’s past as if it were an episode of that landmark BBC series, A House Through Time. Set your sights a little lower, perhaps and consider what is probably staring you in the face.

First of all, think about the ‘leading character’. What is the most outstanding feature of your property? It might be the garden, or the bedroom. It could be its village location, its proximity to the railway station or a local school; it could be its history or its modernity.

What holds the greatest appeal to your audience. If you spell it out to potential buyers right at the top of your listing, the chances are you will make a connection which will make potential buyers curious enough to read on.

Supporting characters
Having established your ‘lead’, introduce members of the supporting cast – the other advantages of your home or location. It might be the fact that your property is open plan or all on one floor; it might be the spacious living area or dining kitchen; it could be the short walk to the shops or the 15-minute drive to the coast. Gather these elements to paint a picture of a lifestyle that buyers might prioritise when choosing between properties in the same price bracket.

The twist in the tale
Every good story has a plot twist. And you should consider yours. This is where potential obstacles to a sale must be met head on and overcome. If your property is on a busy city street- talk about convenience, bustling atmospheres, bars and restaurants, the lack of a commute; if you’re in a more remote rural location, describe the views, the relaxing lifestyle, the healthy hill walks, the warm welcome in the village ‘local.’

 What channel is it on?
Once you have your story, it is up to you to make sure that people get the chance to read it on whatever channel they choose. Share it on social media and blogs, make a video (not every story is written down), ask friends and contacts to ‘like’ and share and spread the word.

The most important thing is to tell your property’s story in a way that is going to pique people’s interest and cause them to stop and consider, properly consider, the lifestyle advantages of the home you are selling.

Paulo Coelho, author of The Alchemist, said: “Imagine a new story for your life and start living it.” That is what you want your buyers to do. 

For assistance in propelling your property to the forefront of the market, please don't hesitate to reach out to us here.