The not-so-surprising way to turn off your readers

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

This morning's mix of email contained a link to an article on Trulia that I just "had" to read. It promised "5 Surprising Buyer Turnoffs."

Since I provide weekly blog posts to a few agents with my blog post service, I'm always on the lookout for new buyer and seller tips that they can share with their own readers. That subject line offered to tell me something new, so off I went to read it. 

All I can think is that the writer has seen that list of words that are guaranteed to make people open your email or follow a link to your article. It includes words like:

  • surprisingthumbs down to misleading headlines
  • new
  • exciting
  • free
  • secret
  • little-known
  • ground-breaking
  • hidden

They're all fine words to use - but ONLY if you have something to say that backs up the claim.

This writer didn't. 

That is, unless you think it's surprising that buyers are turned off by dirt and clutter, a seller following them around the house, ugly wallpaper, misleading photos, or inflated prices. 

I was disappointed, as I'm sure every other reader was. But worse - my opinion of that writer just fell a few dozen notches because she gave her article a misleading headline. 

She could have called it "The most common buyer turn-offs" and it would have been truthful, but she chose to lure people to her article with deception. 

So - she tarnished her own reputation by choosing to write a lie. A few of her commenters were pretty vocal about their disgust - saying that a misleading headline was just as bad as misleading photos. 

(Am I being unkind? Perhaps these 5 turn-offs were a surprise to her? Do you think that's possible?)


Comments (72)

Pat McCormick
Long and Foster Manassas - Manassas, VA

Marte - I completely agree.  I had exactly the same reaction to the article that you did.  And you know what?  If the author had titled it as you suggested, I probably still would have read it, just to see if her list matched mine.

Sep 01, 2014 03:39 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Pat - and I would have read it, just to see if she had anything different to offer. 

Sep 01, 2014 04:37 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtor, Philly Main Line

Marte, saw that as well and agree with you. Yes, you want an attention grabbing headline, but you then need to deliver the goods as well. Better to have just one surprising fact than under deliver with five boring well known ones.

Sep 01, 2014 05:09 AM
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Losing credibility is easy in the online marketing world. Digging for clicks usually backfires. 

Sep 01, 2014 05:30 AM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Marte, maybe she was also a brand new agent just out of real estate school who had never shown a house.  Or maybe her market was sellers?  I dunno.  You're right, this shouldn't be a surpise to any Realtor on her email list.

Sep 01, 2014 05:32 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Nick & Trudy - I agree - but can you think of a surprising fact about what turns buyers away? 

Pamela - Kind of like short-cuts not working?

Patricia - That's possible. Or perhaps she's just a writer and not an agent.


Sep 01, 2014 05:39 AM
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Since Trulia is geared toward non-agents, the arthor may be oriented toward that audience and not professionals in the industry. Great thumbsdown logo.

Sep 01, 2014 05:52 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Wayne - That's possible, but the emails go out to agents (and people like me). 

Sep 01, 2014 06:20 AM
Claude Labbe
RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Right. Don't be deceptive.

I saw a home with some buyers today.  It wasn't what we expected. The photos were perfect.  They weren't deceptive, they were alluring. They didn't show us things that were ugly (okay, there were one or two things not in the photos).

In our case, the photos were marketing, but not deceptive, and so, we weren't frustrated and didn't feel deceived.

In the case of your blog, it sure seems the author was a few shades more deceptive.

Sep 01, 2014 01:12 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Claude - Sorry that home didn't quite measure up, in spite of the perfect photos. Sounds like good marketing - your buyers might have loved the "good stuff" enough to overlook the not-so-good. 

Sep 01, 2014 04:08 PM
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce

Old news is not good news...

Sep 01, 2014 11:46 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sally and David - or at least it's not surprising news. 

Sep 02, 2014 03:00 AM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Marte ... great post, congrats on the feature from "The Gods" and your post has also been featured to the group:


Sep 02, 2014 02:07 PM
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

I usually don't read the posts that tell about 5 ways to do this ot that. After 25 years there are still only so many ways to spin the wheel. Maybe technology changes a few things but not so much.

Sep 07, 2014 04:26 AM
Donna Foerster
HomeSmart Realty Group - Parker, CO
Metro Denver Real Estate Assistant

Marte~ Obviously you weren't the only one who though the write was misleading.

Sep 11, 2014 01:06 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Robert (Vegas Bob) Swetz - I have to wonder, why didn't I get notice of your comment last week? The new system is good in many ways - lacking in others! But anyway... thanks for your feature! 

Bill Reddington - I know you're right - but I still keep falling for those headlines, thinking there's something I've missed. 

@Donna Foerster - I guess I wasn't. And I wonder why this "@" system isn't working? It frustrates me to no end when it refuses to work!

Sep 11, 2014 01:21 PM
Robert Vegas Bob Swetz
Las Vegas, NV

Hello Marte and Vegas Bob was without a computer for 7 Long Days ;o(

Sep 12, 2014 05:12 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Robert (Vegas Bob) Swetz - Seven days with no computer. Sounds like torture. 

Sep 12, 2014 07:01 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

I keep reading those blogs and they are frequently disappointing for their obviousness - nothing learned there! Thanks for the blog!

Nov 08, 2014 09:24 AM
Marte Cliff

Yes Lise Howe - and there seems to be more and more of that going on. I get email from Realty Times with interesting-sounding headlines, but when I click, it's the same old same old. 

Aug 16, 2016 04:56 AM
Cody Carmen
Adhi Schools, LLC - Rancho Cucamonga, CA
Market Analysis--Educational Content, Adhi Schools

Great blog. An attention-grabbing headline is not worth it if the reader is offended and won't be back!

Aug 16, 2016 02:40 AM
Marte Cliff

Cody Carmen I'm also seeing a lot of that from the "news" sites. The headlines don't bear any resemblance to the articles. Possibly even more annoying are all the ads you have to close before you can even SEE the articles.

Aug 16, 2016 04:57 AM