Every home has its own unique narrative, and when it hits the market, someone has to tell the tale. For Partners Trust, that expert storyteller is California native Katrina Zawojski and, naturally, she too has a story. As is often true of the real estate journey, Katrina didn’t plan to end up in this space. A succession of neighborly encounters with a locally-owned business lead to her first copywriting assignments and soon enough she was knee-deep in chronicling bespoke homes and resorts across Los Angeles.
Fast forward five years to 2017 and Katrina is now a dedicated copywriter for Partners Trust. Whether she’s writing property narratives, marketing collateral, or agent bios, Katrina succeeds at injecting storytelling into the real estate and hospitality realm. We sat down with Kartina to find out what it’s really like to spend your days writing about some of California’s most epic properties—the challenges, the words the industry can do without, and what a wedding cake has to do with a Beverly Hills compound.
PT: What kind of physical space do you need to be in to write about a property?
KZ: It’s not so much about the space, per se, as it is about the freedom to change my physical space whenever I please, for I’m at my most creative self when I have variety. However, a strong wifi connection and a bold cup of coffee are usually a given.
“This marvelous 1908 Colonial Revival, presiding on a tree-lined avenue in Pasadena, has been lovingly-restored by its owner of twenty years to not only reclaim its turn-of-the-century glory but enhance its original character to new heights. From the high-gloss finish front door to the cedar shingle exterior, the two-level, 5 bedroom home radiates an East Coast design sensibility.”
Excerpt from Katrina’s narrative for 1211 Avoca Avenue | Pasadena
PT: What’s the biggest challenge of writing about real estate?
KZ: Identifying an audience and tailoring the copy to address their specific needs and wants, because ultimately, we’re in the business of not just selling a physical space but the lifestyle that goes with it.
PT: How do you know you’ve captured the essence of a space or agent profile?
KZ: When I’ve found a way to not only incorporate the most crucial information into a piece but do so in a manner that flows nicely together, that has cadence, that’s both honest and captivating.
PT: What’s the most overused word in real estate writing?
KZ: I try to avoid using the word “enjoy” when describing a property. You read so many “enjoy the views” or “enjoy laying out by the pool” when you can paint such a more vivid (and accurate) picture with other adjectives. Enjoy is so bland! When appropriate, I prefer to say, “savor the sunset views” or “luxuriate poolside in the sun-soaked yard.” Honorable mentions: flow, seamless, soaring.
PT: Talk to us about your favorite kind of assignments.
KZ: Over the years, I’ve become less enthralled by colossal glass compounds and more impressed by homes that undergo a thoughtful and transformative restoration, such as a 1908 Colonial Revival in Pasadena that recently stole my heart.
PT: What’s the thing you always want to convey in real estate copy?
KZ: A reference to the property’s layout and scale, architectural and design style, and the location without sounding too wikipedia.com.
A series of steps lead from the main outdoor entertainment area to a lower platform that, if you look closely, is accentuated by a cascading wall of water. City to ocean views at nightfall are all the more captivating from this outdoor oasis, especially from the master suite which is expertly positioned to capitalize on the home’s indoor/outdoor fluidity.
Excerpt of Katrina’s narrative for 9010 Hopen Place | Hollywood Hills
PT: Speak to the Partners Trust brand and what it’s like to write about that.
KZ: There are certain parameters that I have to follow as a writer, particularly when I’m composing an MLS narrative, but overall, I’m given the creative freedom to portray a listing how I see fit. I appreciate how Partners Trust is so engrossed in the LA community and the industry at large, which opens up possibilities for me to compose editorial-esque pieces for the blog. It’s both my priority and that of the brokerage to always identify and engage our audience.
PT: What helps you to be a better writer?
KZ: In the same vein that being a bicyclist helps you to become a better motorist, so too does reading help you to become a better writer. Travel magazines, fashion brochures, historical fiction novels, the packaging copy of the protein bar I’m eating…they’re all forms of communication and it fascinates me. I can’t expect to learn novel words, or interesting ways to arrange and use them, if I stay inside my own head.
PT: Any advice you’d give to people interested in doing what you do?
KZ: Practice writing property narratives using only photos for places you encounter online, in the paper, wherever—then compare them to the printed copy. Learn about architecture and design so that you can understand and identify what you see (was that floor pattern chevron or herringbone?) as well as be a more savvy interviewer. Train yourself to be a diligent note-taker, because nothing stalls a project quite like having to track down what specific material graces the guesthouse powder room.
PT: You’ve no doubt encountered a surplus of properties and written countless pieces of copy—what’s one such encounter that has left a lasting impression?
KZ: Early in my career I was lucky enough to concept and direct the storytelling efforts on a most impressive Beverly Hills compound (listed for $28 million). The property featured the most stunning retaining walls, which I compared to “tiers on a wedding cake.”
Beyond the Realtor is a Partners Trust editorial series that uncovers the specific roles at play in the multi-faceted real estate field, and the personalities behind them.