The most commonly mis-used words in real estate

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

Do you ever wonder why some word usage mistakes are so common in real estate blog posts? I’m beginning to think that it’s because people see these errors so often they begin to believe they’re correct.

Meanwhile, those mis-used words can destroy your message - and even cause clients and would-be clients to think less of you. It's best to use the word you mean.

One of the most common is the misuse of “advise.” I see it all the time – “Thank you for grammar bookthe advise.”

Strangely, I don’t see the opposite. So far, I haven’t read where anyone said “Please advice me.” This one may have a secondary reason for being so common, and that reason is Word’s grammar checker. I discovered that a couple of years ago when Word tried to tell me to use the wrong word.

I wrote about the problem and how to avoid it in this post: real estate marketing grammar: Why do SO many agents misuse "advice" and "advise?"

Next is a tricky one – the difference between effect and affect. It’s tricky because there are a few exceptions to the rule. The good news, as you’ll see in this post: real estate marketing grammar: Do your marketing efforts have an effect or an affect?, is that you will probably never need to use the exceptions.

How about prospective vs perspective? Yikes! I keep seeing people talk about perspective buyers or sellers, which is really impossible.

According to, Perspective has a Latin root meaning "look through" or "perceive," and all the meanings of perspective have something to do with looking. If you observe the world from a dog's perspective, you see through the dog's eyes. In drawing, perspective gives your drawing the appearance of depth or distance.

You could say your client has a different perspective on pricing, etc. – but that’s about the only way you could tie that word to a buyer or seller.

Strangely, this form of the two words is the only place I see them misused. No one writes that they’re sending perspecting letters, and no one calls a new lead a perspect.

So if you ever get confused and can’t decide which to use, remove the “ive” and think is this person a “prospect or a perspect?” The answer should be clear.

Do you ask people to “Please call myself?” Oh, I hope not. But a whole lot of people do. Even people in academic positions say things like “Gary and myself will be available to answer questions,” or “Please email your questions to Gary or myself.”

Of all the common errors, I think this one makes me cringe the most.

“Myself” is a reflexive pronoun – it can only refer back to the speaker.

  • “I speak for myself when I say….”
  • “I attended the concert by myself.”
  • “I bought myself a present.”

Here’s the rant I wrote when I found a professional copywriter using “myself” when she should have written “me.” real estate marketing grammar: Why the problem with "Myself?"

Three more commonly misused pairs - real estate marketing grammar: Oh those pesky word pairs...

LAUGH AND CRY BUTTONSAnd finally – some bloopers that will make you laugh or cringe. Many of them did come from Active Rain posts, but thankfully, they aren’t common: real estate marketing grammar: Ouch! Wrong Word!

I have a hunch that most of these came from using voice recognition software – and failing to take a few minutes to proofread before uploading.

Thanks to Scott Godzyk for inspiring me to revisit past posts and bring you this round-up of the most common word bloopers found on Active Rain. If you haven't already read them, check out his round-up of real estate stories.

Images courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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Raymond E. Camp
Howard Hanna Real Estate Services - Ontario, NY
Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester

Good afternoon Marte,

Thanks for the lesson today and me, myself and I will heed the advice.

Make yourself an astonishing day.

Dec 13, 2017 12:52 PM #1
Lynnea Miller
Bend Premier Real Estate - Bend, OR
Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon

One of my favorite pet peeves is using the word "me" when you should be using "I." And many times I have seen agents write seller's when they mean plural. Not worth the effort to correct. And how about they're, there and their?

Dec 13, 2017 03:37 PM #2
Michelle Carr Crowe,Altas Just Call...408-252-8900!
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Thank you for sharing your thoughts when it comes to correct real estate grammar1

Dec 13, 2017 04:49 PM #4
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

Those are great suggestions, Marte.  One of the worst misuse of words I accidentally used in real estate, came during a phone conversation, when I tried to explain a termite report to a buyer.  I was trying to reveal that the termite company had found "wood destroying orgasms."  Organisms or orgasms. . .Who knew there was a difference?

Dec 13, 2017 06:17 PM #5
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Marte- thank you for continuing to try to correct our grammar. We need it, and I mean all of us. I cringe listening to the news readers saying "Me and..." and many other misuses of words. 

Dec 13, 2017 06:25 PM #6
Robert Hicks
United Country River City Realty - Savannah, TN

Oooopsy!!! looks like I, myself have been busted and need some advise and a new prospective on grammar.. Thanks Marte.. 

Dec 14, 2017 06:26 AM #7
Brenda Whitman, Live in Laramie Real Estate
Live in Laramie Real Estate, Laramie, Wyoming - Laramie, WY
Broker/Co-Owner, Laramie, Wyoming

Great post and a nice takeaway for me on the usage of "myself"! 

Dec 14, 2017 12:43 PM #8
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Marte... all little bloopers that often set my teeth on edge when I see them.

Dec 20, 2017 02:51 PM #9
Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408 - Daytona Beach, FL
Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices

Luckily these are not my big weak spots. So this time I can relax... until your next post (LOL)

Happy New Year!

Dec 30, 2017 09:33 AM #10
Paul McFadden
Paratex - Seattle, WA
Pest Control, Seattle, WA.

Indeed: The misuse of verbiage is often a travesty to me. Thanks!

Jan 15, 2018 09:36 AM #11
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Marte Cliff

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