What happens if you choose the wrong word?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

If you choose the wrong word, you'll hurt yourself!

Using the wrong word in real estate marketing materials will hurt you in two ways.

First, it will detract from your message. Your readers might be going merrily along, absorbing your marketing message and even agreeing with you.

Then all of a sudden, there’s a word that doesn’t belong.

It doesn’t fit. It doesn’t make sense with the rest of the sentence. It’s like a big stop sign in the middle of the message.don't put stop signs in your real estate marketing letters

All the momentum you’d gained is lost. Now they’re not absorbing your message, they’re stopping to figure out what you meant.

Worse – that wrong word will hurt you because they’re now wondering about you and your professionalism.

Perhaps you just can’t spell, and maybe that won’t matter to them – or maybe it will. Or perhaps you don’t pay attention to details, and that WILL probably matter to them. Choosing you would mean trusting you to help them with one of the largest transactions in their lives. It's important that you pay attention to details. A wrong word in an offer or counter-offer could lead to big trouble. 

Word pairs that routinely trip up real estate agents: 

One of the most common offenders is "Thanks for the good advise."

  • Advise is a verb - it's something you do, not something you can give.
  • Advice is a noun; it's what you give.

And then there was the headline that read “Is success alluding you?” OUCH

  • allude means to refer to something indirectly
    elude means to evade or avoid

I’ve also seen agents say things like “When you choose to except an offer…” or “When your offer is excepted.”

  • except means exclude
  • accept means to consent to

And how about “It makes good since to…”

  • since means because – or it could refer to a time period, as in “since she turned 21 …”
  • sense (in this context) means sound judgment.

Another one I've seen frequently is "I most defiantly agree that..." This one may just be a common spelling error, because the definition of "defiant" is "boldly resistant or challenging." I'm not sure you can defiantly agree, unless perhaps you're taking sides in a heated argument. 

The definition of definite is "clearly defined or determined; not vague or general; fixed; precise; exact; positive; certain; sure." I'm pretty sure that agents mean to say they "definitely agree" when they accidentally say "defiantly."

And don't forget about those perspective clients! 

I know that no real estate agent would call anticipated future clients "perspects," so why do they say and write "perspective" when they mean "prospective?" 

All of these word choices (and many others) put stop signs in the middle of sentences.

So if you’re ever unsure of a word – look it up. And if your vocabulary is such that you’ll use the wrong words routinely and without realizing that it's wrong, ask someone you trust to proofread and edit your work before you send it out.


Featured image courtesy of Stuart Miles

The original of this post appeared at: Using the “Wrong Word” in real estate marketing materials hurts in two ways… - Copy By Marte


Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Marte Cliff  loved your post and you are so spot on.... funny the other day I saw a very successful agent in my market advertising a property with all the bells and whistles, professional Video, photography and the list goes on and one minor TYPO wrong zip code for the marketing.

Oct 27, 2023 08:51 PM
Marte Cliff

Endre Barath, Jr. I wonder if the agent noticed and changed it?  Or was it  not in a place that could be changed?

Years ago a friend of mine hired some "web guys" to create a website for her business. The site turned out well, except for one thing:  they inserted an incorrect phone number. Then they refused to go fix it! 


Oct 27, 2023 09:08 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.

Marte Cliff  all I can say is when I do marketing on a higher scale, I insist and most of the time I do not need to insist proofing it before it is published..... now with that said I suspect they were too 'busy' or too something and did not focus.... not my place to bring this huge mistake to their attention, Endre

Oct 27, 2023 09:14 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Endre Barath, Jr. Nope. It was not your place, and they had people who could have noticed. What I've found is that it's something like a phone number or zip code that proofreading can miss. You "know" what it says, and it's not like a wrong word that jumps out to say "I'm wrong. Fix me!" 

Oct 27, 2023 09:32 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

You should definitely correct your mistakes if you can. It’s just easier than to try to skirt around it.

Oct 27, 2023 11:14 PM
Marte Cliff

So true Laura Cerrano 

Oct 28, 2023 08:30 AM
Lauren Williams, CPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

Marte Cliff I once had an MBA class downgraded an entire grade because my client took offense to one word in my final paper. Lauren

Oct 28, 2023 01:34 AM
Marte Cliff

Wow Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO - that's harsh! 

Oct 28, 2023 08:31 AM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

There are definitely some people that we have to be more careful with our words and how they are used than others, haha.

Oct 28, 2023 04:48 AM
Marte Cliff

I suppose so Brian England - but I think it's easier to just be careful all the time. 

Oct 28, 2023 08:36 AM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Excellent advice as always ! The one that gives me trouble is accept and except but it's not because I don't know which to use. It is because Siri (or whoever the voice-to-text belongs to) hears me say "accept" and puts in "except." I constantly have to change "excepted offer" to "accepted offer." I think I'm not speaking clearly!

Oct 28, 2023 04:56 AM
Marte Cliff

Kat Palmiotti - I have a feeling that auto-correct is responsible for a lot of the errors we see in blog posts and emails. I've had it switch between singular and plural as well as changing words as you described. 

If auto-correct is on the job, proofread three times! 

Oct 28, 2023 08:39 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Great post, Marte... this is one of my biggest peeves when people use the wrong word. 

Oct 28, 2023 06:32 AM
Marte Cliff

Thank you Nina Hollander, Broker. As I said to Kat, I think that sometimes they know the right words, but don't go back and fix things after auto-correct has changed them.  

Oct 28, 2023 08:40 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
The Grit and Gratitude Agent

Congratulations on the feature and I agree. Sometimes auto correct will often replace a word and hence why AI is fallible. One of my pet peeves is "irregardless" which is similar to a double negative. The correct word is regardless.

Oct 28, 2023 06:43 AM
Marte Cliff

Leanne Smith - we all have our pet peeves. One of mine is the improper use of "myself."

Oct 28, 2023 08:42 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Some says the valuer came gave a favorable price. I know what he meant.  Other people think the realtors are just door openers. They want to do all the negotiation thinking that is all the realtor true value is.

Oct 28, 2023 08:01 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer


Sam Shueh - It's pretty hard to change people's minds. They believe what they believe - often when common sense and the evidence says otherwise. 

Oct 28, 2023 08:46 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Prop. Mgr, Wenatchee, WA

Hi Marte,
Another excellent post. I do notice such things. You know what bugs the heck out of me? AOL has made "You've got" acceptable English, and it is not! Now it has extended to "I've got", and "We've got".  I know in the big picture of world problems it's not that big of a deal but it still bugs me.

Oct 28, 2023 10:52 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten

I gotta know, you know Carol Williams ....

Oct 28, 2023 02:05 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Carol Williams Perhaps it's an aversion to the word "have." Our local newspaper has a writer/editor who insists on saying/writing could of, should of, would of. 


Oct 28, 2023 11:31 AM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

What happens if I chose the wrong word?  Marte Cliff they kick me out!  Bam! You Out a Here Chickie poo!!  All Saturday kidding aside......words make a huge difference.  I remember years ago when I was first in the business I hired a 'temp' gal from an agency to send out my newsletters etc.  OMG her first try was a mess.  She made so many mistakes.  I mentioned it to the boss and asked her for a refund as the gal couldn't spell and used the wrong words. The boss thought I was being too picky.  Seriously!

Oct 28, 2023 02:03 PM
Marte Cliff

That's you, Anna "Banana" Kruchten, picky, picky, picky! 

I came across an old post and shared it on Medium today - You might enjoy it, because the wrong words are so funny.

They included:

this bares repeating

she past away two months ago

It through us all for a loop 

I’ve considered it and whole Hartley disagree with you.

the perspective buyer

Wholly cow 

I don't have anymore patients for this 

Side of the rode

digs their heals in

Give them a peak 

If you read enough, you can amass quite a collection of these!

Oct 28, 2023 02:12 PM
Anna "Banana" Kruchten
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Well ya know Marte.....I whole Harley agree, don't ya know!


Oct 28, 2023 02:17 PM
Marte Cliff

I love it, Anna "Banana" Kruchten

Oct 28, 2023 02:31 PM
Matthew O'Hare
Osterville, MA

Verbiage is incredibly important and in some parts of our society a lost art. A well worded communique truly does define perception.

Oct 29, 2023 06:12 AM
Marte Cliff

I agree, Matthew O'Hare

Oct 29, 2023 09:51 AM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

For people that overly dependent on spell check, this is a good post. Write it, then read it carefully and before you hit that button to send or it to print, re-read it. and if you can get a second set of eyes, even better.

Oct 29, 2023 08:17 AM
Marte Cliff

That's right Ed (Edward) Silva, 203-206-0754 Spell check, grammar check, and auto-correct can all destroy your message. 

They are all helpful at times, but if you rely on them, you're making a huge mistake. 

Proofread, proofread, and then proofread! And yes, if you can get a second set of eyes that's even better.

Oct 29, 2023 09:53 AM
Margaret Goss
@Properties - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I agree with anything you write about grammar Marte Cliff! But I fear we are in a losing battle.

The number of mistakes I both hear and read every day is astounding. And I'm talking about television and published books! It seems that few people care anymore which is very sad. People say it's "only grammar" but I, like you, think it makes for effective and clear communication.

Oct 30, 2023 09:48 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Margaret Goss - for some people it won't matter. Their communication won't have an effect on people's lives. 

But in other cases, where the word choice or the punctuation could alter the meaning of a contract or even a verbal agreement, they should not be so dismissive. As some have learned the hard way, misunderstandings can lead to lawsuits. 

I cringe when I hear people on TV using terrible grammar, and really cringe when I see it in print advertising - especially when it is on signs on buildings.

Years ago, I went with a friend to pick up boxes for her products. The 4'X8' sign on the side of the building said "Get your box's here!"

When I see things like that, I always think that someone along the way could have and should have told them. 

As for books - often I think it's a typo, but then wonder about their proofreaders! 



Oct 30, 2023 10:23 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Marte:

Watching out for potential Stop Signs is so important, and yet ignored by so many. Some mistakes are laughable at first but send a message not likely intended by the writer. As always you've shared some valuable advise (yes, that was intentional!).


Oct 31, 2023 12:26 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Thanks for the chuckle, Jeff Dowler, CRS. Any  time you want one of those advises, just holler!  

Meanwhile, yes. While we do like to give people a laugh now and then, we don't want to do it when we're attempting to convey serious information. 

I really miss Gwen Banta and her blooper posts. 

Oct 31, 2023 04:30 PM