Writing real estate ads? Do away with empty adjectives.

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Writing real estate ads?  Empty adjectives do nothing but take up space.

You've read hundreds of real estate ads filled with empty adjectives. You may have written some of them yourself when you couldn't think of something better to say.

Since your goal should be to paint a word picture that entices both buyers and buyer's agents, it's time to do away with them entirely.

Most of the time, it's not that difficult if you just take a few extra minutes.

First, what are empty adjectives? They're words like great, nice, pretty, cute, large, huge, small, and spacious. They paint no specific picture, and can mean different things to different people.

So how can you get rid of them?

Instead of saying that your new listing has a "great" view, say "picture windows offer a 180 degree panorama of downtown and the Whoever River." Or you can simply say it has a view of (whatever is out there.) If you have to be really brief, choose a word like "panoramic," "ocean," "mountain," "city" or "valley" over "great."

mansion in the cityAfter all, what does "great" mean? Different things to different people.

For instance, you might say the yard has a great fence. To me that would mean it's tall and dog-proof so I could let my critters out to play without worrying. Chain link comes to mind. To someone else it might mean a rustic split-rail that only keeps people from walking or riding bicycles through the flower beds.

And then there's that silly word: "nice." Instead of saying the home is surrounded by nice trees, say it's surrounded by "100' pines."

But of course, if you have the space – such as on your own website – you can paint a word picture that includes privacy, shelter from the sun and wind, birds nesting in the trees, or whatever fits. Just don't say "nice trees," because "nice" doesn't paint any pictures (and "trees" is too generic.)

Any time you're tempted to describe a feature as "nice," stop and think about what makes it nice. Then say that.

If you want to talk about size, do away with large, small, huge, big, spacious, and oversized. Instead, say how large it is. A "12' X 40' deck" paints a better picture than a "large deck." You could also state the square footage, but that might not be as easy for some of your readers to visualize.

Remember that while you're painting word pictures of the features in a home, it's good to add some action/benefits. You do have to be careful to follow the ADA rules, but try to suggest how the occupants will live in the home and benefit from its features.

A purchase is an emotional decision, justified with logic. And it's benefits, not features, that affect emotions.

Comments (71)

Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528
Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956 - New City, NY
Real Estate Salesperson

Marte, great reminder that our property descriptions need to paint a compelling enough verbal picture to entice the reader to want to view it. 

May 01, 2013 10:02 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Writing, in general, should be as clear and concise as possible. Great points.

May 01, 2013 10:24 AM
Digital Digital
Alachua, FL
full service

Hi Marte,

Thanks for sharing another educational blog.

I look forward to learning more from your post.

Have a fabulous week!

May 01, 2013 12:57 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Leah - Yes - how else can you make your listing stand out from all the others?

Jill - Yes it should - commuication is the goal.

Wandanna - Thank you. I'll try to share something worthwhile.

May 01, 2013 03:56 PM
b m
Crofton, MD

Great information! I've always believed it's best to paint a picture of what a home can offer to a persons lifestyle so they can imagine themselves living there.

May 02, 2013 10:50 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Beth - That's it - create word pictures that let their imaginations take over.

May 02, 2013 11:25 AM
Morris Massre
Pembroke Pines, FL
Real Estate Instructor Broward County Florida

You would think that some agents could think for themselves and come up with a few nice property descriptions, but in the end they are either just lazy or don't have a good enough grasp of the language.  This can be remedied with a little research.

May 03, 2013 04:26 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Morris - You'd think so. Not to do so makes it look as if you don't much care.

May 03, 2013 06:47 AM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Marte, this is a wonderful post to jog our brains when we write descriptions of properties for the MLS. Facts are not fluff - they are the stuff buyers are looking for.


May 03, 2013 10:53 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sharon - Yes, they need facts. If they need enough space for some oversized piece of furniture, the word "large" might catch their eye - but the actual size might get them to call for an appointment.

May 04, 2013 12:06 AM
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

Guilty - spacious is has been pne of my favorite words.  Terrific reminder that we paint pictures with words as well as out photos and... that viewing on the intenet IS the first showing.

May 04, 2013 10:14 PM
Beth and Richard Witt
New York, NY
The best Retired Brokers !!!!

Thanks to Pat I got to appreciate your post and it was well worth my time...

Happy Day Marte...

May 04, 2013 10:16 PM
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection

Marte this was rather informative, I like the way you went ahead an gave examples of how  to write without the empty adjectives.

May 04, 2013 10:30 PM
Brad MacKenzie
Brad MacKenzie - Duxbury, MA
Turning Houses into Homes on the South Shore

Another post layered in great, magnificent, cozy and warm, yet overflowing with charm and enticing shiny details.

May 04, 2013 11:05 PM
Ann Nguyen
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Truckee, CA
Lake Tahoe Truckee Homes For Sale
Marte...I will print out this post and use it as a reminder next time for my ads. I am guilty for employing many words in your examples :-)
May 05, 2013 01:03 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

"Painting a word picture" is a great novel idea to work with!  It might take more time and space, but it is certainly worth the effort.  

May 05, 2013 01:05 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Jeanne - Yes, the Internet is the first showing. And sometimes much of what people "see" on that showing is what their imaginations conjure up after reading your descriptions.

Thanks Richard and Beth. A happy day to you too!

Thanks Jennifer - I always TRY to show what I mean - I've never liked articles that say "you can" without saying how.

Brad - Thanks. You made me giggle.

Ann - Thanks - I'm glad to nag you!

Margaret - It does take a few minutes more time, especially if space is limited. But yes, it's worth the effort when it makes buyers want to see more.


May 05, 2013 02:57 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH@Properties - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Hey, Marte!  I included this post in today’sLast Week’s Favorites.  Please drop by and check it out, and and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

May 05, 2013 07:15 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks Patricia - I appreciate the compliment, and I WILL go check out the others.

May 05, 2013 08:04 AM
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I try not to use any of those words. It's easier to be descriptive on our website or AR but in the MLS, we only get 250 characters. That's not enough letters to give an accurate depiction of anything.

May 05, 2013 11:56 AM