The road to Nila June
While on vacation with family and friends in Maui last August, I skipped the famous “Road to Hana” excursion in order to put the final pre-launch polish on Nila June’s natural language generation system. Nila June has been delivering fresh, fully automated property descriptions to real estate agents throughout the U.S. for nearly a year now. Last week it was a thrill to see one describing a little house in Hana, HI. (I haven’t forgotten you, either, Hana! Hope to get back to your time zone soon enough!)
So what have we learned?
"Every customer is a repeat customer," really!
When I first added that slogan to our Nila June email signatures, it was aspirational. A year of working hard and collaboratively with our customers has made it true. Agents return when they need a new listing. One-time customers are simply new customers who haven’t gotten another listing yet. We’ve also seen customers buy multiple descriptions in a single day or week, especially as usage spreads among listing/transaction coordinators, and photographers who serve multiple agents.
Wide range of reasons for using the best property description generator
One thing our customers share in common is a belief that the property listing description is not merely something that has to be done, a mere box to be checked, but an opportunity to do something very important very well.
Beyond that, it’s been fun to begin to understand the range of attitudes that agents bring to writing descriptions. Here are a few broad categories:
Hates writing property descriptions!
“I hate writing property descriptions! It’s the worst part of my job!” These are hard working, busy people who excel at the social aspects of the job. They have great skills of empathy and persuasion, and they are well organized . . . and they can write well, too. But when they’re writing, they’re not shaking hands and selling houses, and it drives them crazy. Staring at a blank screen, they think, “If only I could SHOW you the house! That’s what I’m good at!”
Loves writing listing descriptions!
“I love writing property descriptions! But I can get into a rut and I find myself saying the same things over and over again.” Maybe this person was a marketing communications major in college, or an English major. For these agents, Nila June is like a trusted assistant who can draft a great listing description for the boss to approve or edit.
English is a second language!
“I am FANTASTIC at writing property descriptions . . .but only in Hungarian!” Real estate is a great occupation for hardworking people who are new to the country. Whether they’re from China, India, Mexico, Moldova, Ecuador, or wherever, we’re lucky to have them, and happy to help them with their property descriptions.
How do the agents find Nila June?
In the early days, most of our customers typed “How to write a property description” into Google search. Increasingly, though, our business comes from repeat clients (see above) and their word-of-mouth referrals. An agent is not likely to share secrets with other agents in a competitive market, but we’ve found that they’re willing to share Nila June with colleagues in other markets, which is fine with us! (I wonder if that’s how we got to Hana?)
How do they use our automated listing descriptions?
Over the past few months it’s been interesting to get to know our clients and how they work. Some post Nila June descriptions immediately without change. Others wait a few days, and incorporate their specialized knowledge of the home. Some use the Nila June short version, some use the long version, and still others combine the two. We’ve heard from clients that they LOVE both versions for use on sites like Zillow, but that the character count limitations of some of the local Multiple Listing Services require that even the Nila June short version be edited down a bit. “Do you think we should cut the descriptions down in length?” I ask. The answer is always some degree of “What? No! Are you crazy!” It’s easier to start with a nice, meaty description, suitable for longform marketing pieces, and excerpt portions of it for the local MLS.
Pairing Nila June descriptions with creative videos
Devon and Dustin Fox and their team do great, scripted video work. Well written, well produced, and well presented by agents like Shruthi Shyamala, Leah, Molina, and Devon Fox herself. More than once, I’ve thought to myself, “That looks like a great house!” And then I remind myself, “Hey, you’re not in the market for a place to live in northern Virginia!”
Longtime agent and youth soccer coach Willie Ibarra, too, uses video to make his D.C. and Maryland listings pop.
Agents like these know that the property listing is as much a calling card for the agent as it is a promotion for any one house. Prospective sellers don’t spend a lot of time debating whether to list with the agent who works hard to post great descriptions or the one who doesn’t bother.
It’s a pleasure to see Nila June descriptions paired with this kind of great work.
All major real estate brokerages
It’s no surprise that our clients hail from every major national and regional real estate firm. You know the names, so I don’t need to list them.
Transaction/listing coordinators & photographers
We wrote a blog post about Transaction Coordinators, who sometimes get the old, “Write me a description” assignment. More and more of them are turning to Nila June.
It’s been nice to see some on-the-ball real estate photographers incorporating Nila June into their offering to clients. During the crazy height of the pandemic real estate market, perhaps neither photos nor descriptions were needed to promote a listing. As the market changes, both are required, and more often than not it’s the written description that delivers the tie-breaker vote. For many reasons, it’s important for agents not to rely solely on photographs to present the house.
Wide range of home prices
Nila June descriptions have been applied to homes ranging from luxury chalets on the slopes of Aspen to flood-zone tear-downs in a Florida swamp. (And let’s not forget Hana!)
The conditional linguistic flexibility in our system accommodates all listings!
Throughout my career as a product manager, I’ve learned that it’s hard to go wrong by listening to the client. Residential real estate agents also happen to be some of the nicest people you’ll meet, so they’re easy to listen to! It’s really up to them what’s next. Our product roadmap comes directly from client feedback.
For me, and for our clients, all we’re doing is writing. There’s some technology behind it, sure, but who cares? (Has anyone ever recommended a book or a song to you by talking about the printing or recording equipment?) All that matters is what’s on the page or screen. Our goal is to make Nila June increasingly like working with a human writer, just a very fast one!