Fact or Fluff?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty

To begin, I want to apologize to my regular readership for the long delay in between blog posts.  Thankfully my regular readership only consists of my wife and other close family member that I force to read my blog.  Thankfully one of the reasons for my lack of posts is the continued growth of our business, which is never a bad thing in real estate.

Trial LawyerApology done, I now want to turn to a bit of a pet peeve of mine in the residential real estate industry.  Before I moved into real estate several years ago, I spent about five years as a litigator for a mid-sized law firm specializing in commercial and corporate defense.  I have joked in the past that my job did not change much.  Instead of crafting motions and arguments which frame my clients' actions in the best possible light, I now craft flyers, listing sheets and similar marketing materials which frame my clients' house in the best possible light.

Though I also do quite a bit of commercial work in addition to my residential transactions, which may influence my thoughts in this area, I am constantly annoyed at the "fluff" that many agents put in the listings and marketing materials for their listings.  In my mind, when creating marketing materials and advertising a listing, my main job is to share the best aspects of my clients' home while at the same time providing necessary information to potential buyers.  Yet many agents waste valuable advertising and marketing space with phrases such as "The best house in the city" or "I'm beautiful inside" or similar phrases.  Rather than market the home effectively, I fear that the use of such terminology may actually hinder the efforts to sell the home.

I have heard that several studies have indicated that buyers react more favorably to neutral factual information when viewing homes online or from a listing sheet or flyer.  If a potential buyer feels that the listing agent is taking liberties with generic phrases of "fluff" they will actually be more inclined to move on to the next potential home.  In my experience, the best agents market and advertise their listings with:Cotton Candy

  1. Stellar photos of a properly staged home - a picture really does mean a thousand words and you can use pictures to subtly market the great features of a listing while also subtly downplaying potential concerns
  2. Great factual information in flyers and the list sheet with what I consider neutral to slightly positive framing of the wording - in other words provide factual information in such a way that the reader (buyer) will consider such information to be both useful and a selling point in a home
  3. No phrases or words which are "impossible to prove" - words or phrases such as best, great, your next home, look no further, etc cause potential buyers to actual feel slightly offended because in a way they are being talked down to and told that their likes or dislikes are not important

When I think about it further, this approach is not really that different from the approach that top trial lawyers take when "marketing" their clients' case to a jury.  Attorneys always try to subtly pull a jury to their side without making the jury feel as if they are being manipulated.  In fact one of the greatest mistakes many attorneys make at trial is losing a jury because they felt the lawyer "thought they were dumb" or "talked down to the jury."  Similarly real estate agents should consider this approach with the wording they use in advertising listings.  Assume that a potential buyer is a smart person with their own unique views of what they want in a home.  Then simply provided them with the information they need to see if this home might meet their interest.  Not only will your marketing materials work better, you will also notice that when you do get calls about that home they are more likely to be seriously interested in the home.  Also keep in mind that "fluffy" things, like cotton candy, usually are just filled with a bunch of air.

Comments (2)


It's finally back!  Whoo-hoo!  You make a very interesting parallel between properly marketing a property and pulling a jury in.  I cant tell you how many houses my wife and I passed on when looking on the net for a home several years ago all because of bad pictures.  I think that Realtors that do not post clean, sharp, attractive pictures of the property are not doing their clients, nor the clients home justice.  In this industry, and especially in these competitive market conditions around DFW, a picture truly is worth a thousand words (or bucks if you are the listing agent!).

Glad to hear business is good Steve...

Jun 18, 2007 03:33 AM
Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

You were back, where did you go.  I can't get my broker to read my blog, but my wife does to find out what I am up to.  Two days ago I wrote about Puffery, the legal term agents use to describe properties.  What a funny word and how silly it is a legal term describing our penchant for bs about a property.

Jan 25, 2010 12:45 PM