Listing Language

Real Estate Agent with Jack White Real Estate 15598

Words matter. Wars have started over them; people are propelled to act because of them. And it appears that the marketing-time of houses might be determined by them, too. At least in part...

As listings grow old, and frustrated sellers are jostling for an edge, perhaps it is time to review the language we use to describe our "products". I regularly read other agents' descriptions of homes closely for that flair with words that would make me want to see the house. If what I read pleases me, it will also please the potential buyer. I want to learn to write like that agent.

A Canadian study found that homes where the seller was "motivated" actually took 15 percent longer to sell, while houses listed as "handyman specials" flew off the market in half the average time. (Paul Angelin teaches real estate and housing trends at the University of Guelph in Ontario. The study dissected the wording of more than 20,000 Canadian home listings from 97 to 2000)

The study found that words that denoted general attractiveness helped sell a property faster than those that spoke of "value" and "price." "Beautiful"  beats "good-value", "must see" is a total dead-beat and does nothing to impact days on the market, "Landscaping" and "move-in ready" brought buyers faster, but "move-in ready" had no impact on the sales price, and neither did "clean" or "quiet".  "New paint" is an often listen comment which leaves buyers cold.  

         Words that Help                        Words that Can Hurt

  • handyman special,          motivated seller       
  • curb appeal                    good value
  • move-in condition           as-is
  • landscaping                    clean
  • granite                          quiet
  • gourmet                        new paint
  • golf, park, trails              playgound

Where would you place "needs repairs?" Other suggestions from your experience?



Posted by

Marianne 907-529-6602


Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Maureen McCabe 02/02/2010 02:20 AM
  2. Bill Gillhespy 02/02/2010 02:43 AM
  3. Melanie Gurley 02/02/2010 03:12 AM
  4. Terrence Sobotta 02/02/2010 04:50 AM
  5. Mark Rienzie 02/02/2010 05:26 AM
  6. Kabir Mahadeva 02/02/2010 06:33 AM
listing presentations
listing a home
real estate lingo

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Agree...almost....I am not sure about the "good value" comment..different strokes...and maybe the survey found that the conclusion needs to be reached by the buyer/agent rather than as part of the description.

Feb 02, 2010 09:39 PM #157
Tom McClaren
United Country Dowd & Forbes Realty, Edenton, NC - Edenton, NC
Realtor/Broker putting your needs first

Marianne, thanks for the thought provoking post and the insightful comments that have followed.  Every house has a story and I think it wise to give a compelling piece of that story as well as what it will be like to live there.  A list of features and upgrades has it's place but not in the listing  description, perhaps under the photos.  I don't know which is more challenging the listing description or the photos - it's a toss up! 

I have posted your "help" words on my bulletin board for ongoing reference. Thanks!

Feb 02, 2010 11:14 PM #158
Lexie Longstreet
Savvy + Co. Real Estate - Charlotte, NC

What a lot of comments!  I think action words must be regional or at least different now than they were 10 years ago.  10 years ago the market was hot and people reacted to different things.  Now it seems like the words "short sale" get buyers excited... but make agents want to toss in the towel.  "Foreclosure" usually means dirty and needs carpet, cleaning, and anything that was previously screwed to the wall.  (But stills gets a buyer reaction to come and look, but more like a string of people slowing to look at an accident on the expressway.)  

In my neck of the woods, if you say "as is", or "fixer upper"  - no one wants to see it.  Yet, "vintage charm" gets you some showings.  Over all, we don't get enough room to even write a decent description from our MLS... if you just list some of the best features - that's about all you can fit in.  I think people are looking at the pictures and videos much more than they were in 2000!  

Feb 02, 2010 11:27 PM #159
George Walsh

Very true. As you say words have started wars. The words are calls to action to motivate the buyer. Many of the phrases agents use have become time worn and no longer have the impact they once had. Also what resonates with one person is passe to another.

We are also required to balance sales pitch with honesty. What the public thinks of the real estate industry in general (lots of studies and surverys on this) is that we are not to be trusted and not worth what we are paid. Sometimes we just have to put "Short Sale" or "Foreclosure." When it's REO the l/a must say "seller makes no warranties...," etc.

When we do have the flexibility to use our own creative approach, often agents rely on worn-out phrases. It's easier. I can win listings over these agents as a result. And I use their examples of why a seller should hire me.

True we are limited in MLS in # of characters. Other venues such as, proprietary websites, creating a property website ( give us almost unlimited room for creativity. So use a thesaurus to find alternate words. It takes a little more effort. It's part of earning your pay.

Feb 03, 2010 01:52 AM #160
Jennifer Kirby
Kirby Fine Homes - Minneapolis, MN
The Luxury Agent

words definitely vary by region and state. Being licensed in three states, I have to remember what works for each area and describe them accordingly. What works in Florida, doesn't in Minnesota, and vice versa.

Feb 03, 2010 08:09 AM #161
Jerry Gray
Wilkinson ERA Real Estate - Winston-Salem, NC
Serving the Triad Since 1980

Words can make the difference, but photos are important also.


Jerry Gray CRB,CRS,GRI,SFR / Allen Tate Realtors / Winston Salem, NC / 336-918-2433

Feb 03, 2010 09:45 AM #162
Ty Lacroix
Envelope Real Estate Brokerage Inc - London, ON

Ernest Hemmingway would be proud of real estate ad writers!


Feb 04, 2010 01:49 AM #163
Joe Rocky
Coldwell Banker - McCaffrey Professionals - Brookfield, CT

Words and pictures are both important - that's why we use both.  Words can add depth and meaning to the pics and help folks remember what you think the saleable points are. Also words are often more prominent than photos 2 thru 20 so they should make the buyer want to click on and check out the pics.  Words really do count.

Feb 04, 2010 02:43 AM #164
Jeff Stone
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Port Washington, NY
Seniors Real Estate Specialist

Words are great, but a Great picture is worth a Thousand words, especially when using a  Virtual Tour.

Feb 05, 2010 07:40 AM #165
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Real Estate

Interesting post. Words create different mind pictures for each person. I think I am no longer going to use the words price or value from now on.  I'm off to delete them now.

Feb 06, 2010 07:24 AM #166
Catherine Kierzek
ReMax Lakeside - Muskego, WI

I like to change the words in the descriptions because words difinately attract different buyers looking for different things in a home.  Interesting hurt words that have worked for me especially "motivated seller" prompts an Offer every time!  Thanks for the great blog.

Feb 07, 2010 01:35 AM #167
Marianne Grant, Realtor
Jack White Real Estate - Anchorage, AK
CRS 907-529-6602

Hi All,

Many thanks to everyone who has been contributing to this lively conversation. Responding to you individually has become too big of a task. However, I much appreciate all your comments and valuable insights. Sharing them with one another benefits us all and helps us do better in our profession.

Reading your remarks, it seems to me that different markets might need and respond to different "buzz' words. Thus, the hunt for just the right words remains an ongoing challenge.

Thanks again for keeping the conversation going. I'll be visiting everyone's blog in the days ahead. And please, keep sending in your suggestions and observations.


Feb 07, 2010 08:14 AM #168
Kathie Burby
Coldwell Banker Mother Lode Real Estate - Sonora, CA
REALTOR, SFR, Tuolumne County Real Estate Guide

Marianne - Words are VERY important when marketing a home but so are pictures. If one isn't good with words then take good pictures that will help. Too often, I see listings with a half sentence description and one very bad picture. Great list of suggestions to keep in mind when writing that next property description.

Feb 07, 2010 10:33 AM #170
Liz Grazi Tuohy
All comments to this blog were real valuable to me, especially in this market place. I have found that words connecting emotionally with the buyer work, such as sitting in the livingroom with your favorite drink enjoying the view of the park.
Feb 07, 2010 10:40 AM #171
Marianne Grant, Realtor
Jack White Real Estate - Anchorage, AK
CRS 907-529-6602

I am reading through comparable sales listings for a CMA I am doing this SuperBowl Sunday afternoon and came across this one, ... and I am quoting :

                                   "Living room walls are high, lotsa room for Animal Heads."

Only in Alaska?

Feb 07, 2010 01:56 PM #172
Nicole Donaghy
Re/Max Purpose Driven - Lexington, SC
Helping Families Home in Lexington and Columbia

Great post -- I do believe words can help to draw attention to a home, and have seen studies published to prove it. I would love to see new studies to see what words are helping sell homes in this type of market.

Feb 08, 2010 05:22 AM #173
Matt Robinson
Professional Investors Guild - Pensacola, FL

Very thoughtful post.  Words truly have the power to kill and the power to heal, the power to sell and the power to cause a listing to sit dormant and dying for the life of the agreement.  It amazes me how many agents put, "3 bed/2 bath home in nice neighborhood."  Are you kidding me?  Is that what 6% gets you these days?  We should be a lot more thoughtful and creative in our descriptions, because with the rise of the internet, they are many times the key to a quick and profitable sale for the seller.

Sometime my buyers get frustrated when they get to a home and it's nothing like the pictures and description made it out to be.  However, many times I defend the agent as simply "doing their job" in representing their client's best interests.  Obviously they can't be deceptive in their advertising, but it is certainly their responsibility to paint the home in its best possible light.

Feb 08, 2010 07:03 AM #174
Champions Real Estate Group - Rosenberg, TX

My college professor gave me an F on what I considered a well wriiten article. She told me the word NICE meant nothing to her. She believed a writer should use descriptive words that created an image in the mind of the reader.

Needless to say, she made her point.

Feb 08, 2010 02:14 PM #175
Dana Devine
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Apollo Beach, FL

thank you for sharing...I never thought handy man solld listings faster that motivated

Feb 14, 2010 11:17 PM #176
DeeDee Riley
Lyon Real Estate - El Dorado Hills CA - El Dorado Hills, CA
Realtor - El Dorado Hills & the Surrounding Areas

Thanks Marianne for your post.  I agree with Jennifer in comment #14 "words really matter in every aspect of life". 

Jun 12, 2010 04:40 PM #177
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?


Marianne Grant, Realtor

CRS 907-529-6602
Ask me a question
Spam prevention