Your Listing Ad May Be Discriminating Against Your Buyers!!

Services for Real Estate Pros with Real Estate Pipeline, Inc.

Ive posted this information before, but felt that it needed revisited...

One of the more routine activities of a Realtors(c) job is to write copy for the ads that are used to support your listings.  Whether those be online, print, brochures, or flyers, the goal of these ads is create a positive explanation of the property that will increase the flow of traffic to that ad from interested buyers.  And, lets face it....that is the ultimate goal in this form of advertising

However, it is fairly easy to fall into the grey area and start to make statements that arent necessarily true...perhaps even blatently false...and even worse, bordering on discriminatory. 

Now, I know that no one actually intends to write copy that is discriminatory.  But, the fact of the matter is that some of the text used can be just that depending upon who is reading the ad. I recently discovered an article written by Roselind Hejl in the November, 07, issue of BROKERAGENT NEWS written on just this subject. 

** QUICK PLUG FOR ROSELIND!!  I have worked with Roselind before on some of my blogs and again contacted her for permission to use some of the information that she had posted in the article for the purpose of this blog. Please check out her and her company by going to  Roselind is a fantastic and very dynamic agent with an incredible knowledge about her market and a very passionate love for her profession.

Here are some of the reminders that I have compiled both from some of the listings I have seen and the list that Roselind had supplied for this blog:

1. Describe The Features Of The Property Remember to stick to the facts about the property.  Obviouisly, you can embelish a bit to make the langue more fun, but dont blow it out of proportion.  Also, dont profile your potential buyer by focussing the ad on one specific style of buyer.  We all have some idea of what type of buyer will suit the need for the property, but isnt every financially qualified person a potential buyer? Here are some examples of what you should say:

  • Condo with exercise center and pool
  • Historic home with wrap-around porch
  • Qualified Senior Housing
  • Located On cul-De-Sac
  • Bring your Hammer and lots of ideas!
  • Extensive Remodeling including windows, new floors
  • Bright and Sunny living room
  • Comfortable and Spacious
  • Designer colors!

Avoid phrases that focus on the buyer.  Also, consider subtle little things that might be interpreted wrong by a potential buyer:

  • Empty Nesters Paradise (Are kids welcome??)
  • Great family neighborhood (Will singles be allowed??)
  • Hispanic Community (Uhhhh...Do I need to elaborate??)
  • Near Indian grocery (Is this the Indian part of town??)
  • Pefect for a single guy (Is it not safe for a single female????)
  • Bring your kids! (Uhhh....Sorry, but I dont have any....)
  • Totall remodelled (Really???  EVERYTHING was redone????)
  • New heat and AC (The entire system or just the unit itself???)
  • New carpet! (Well, it was new last year...)
  • Wonderful neighbors (Rock bands are fun neighbors!)
  • Kept in perfect condition (Oh yeah??  Is that what the inspection report will tell me???)
  • All new appliances (Does that include the water heater and the furnace?)

2. One thing that agents like to do in the ad copy is make descriptions of the neighborhood that the listing is located.  This is all well and good and adds a sense of the community, as well as the home itself.  Some good examples are:

  • Gated neighborhood
  • On golf course
  • Horses allowed
  • Tree-lined street
  • Secluded off-street location
  • Close to Shopping

Now, remember...its perfectly OK to talk about the neighborhood.  But, it is NOT OK to talk about the neighbors!  Dont use language that establishes a preference to the type of person that will fit with the local flavor.  Phrases to avoid:

  • Exclusive area (Really....excluding whom???)
  • Elite neighborhood (Who qualifies for this???)
  • Country Club location (Are non-members allowed to buy there??)
  • Surrounded by young families (So...elderly need not apply.) 
  • Mature area (So, you young go somewhere else.)

3. Whatever you do, do not offer up assurances about what CAN be done with the property.  Not only can adding onto the existing home be more difficult that you anticipate, but the buyer could take your statement at face value and then be very disgruntled later on.  Between permits, easements, building codes, and neighborhood opposition...who knows. Anything could stop them from being able to do what YOU said could be done.  So, avoid things like:

  • Un-obstructed view of the lake (From now til when???)
  • Perfect for a bed and breakfast
  • Add a second story and see all of downtown
  • Ready for a new master bathroom 
  • Plenty of room for a pool (Of course, we ahve to move your sewer line and the underground gas line and the......)

4. Lastly, in the attempt to remain perfectly accurate, dont use brand names in generic ways...

  • Jacuzzi tub (Umm, its says Whirlyride on the drain...)
  • Jennire grill (Umm, the lid says Coleman...)

When it comes to marketing a home, the goal of the ad copy is to describe the features of the home and to attract quality buyers.  It is increasingly important to use accurate language.  But, more than that, it is vitally important that you do not violate anything within the COE or the Fair Housing laws. NEVER refer to the sex, racial origin, family status, or age of ANY potential buyers or current residents of a particular area.  And remember, if you direct your advertising to target a specific type of buyer, you are discriminating against other buyers that may be just as capable perhaps even more capable of buying the same property. And even more importantly, if you submit an offer from a potential buyer, and the offer is rejected, the buyer could feel that the rejection is a result of some form of bias against them based on the descriptions put in the ad. 

Roselind had one of the best lines when it came to writing ad copy. Ignore the ambiguous meanings...Remember that YOUR REPUTATION IS AT STAKE!


If you would like information about and how we can bring you more buyers, please contact Clint at 800-977-7058 or 406-329-7652.  Or, follow me on Twitter at


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Lori Franks
Real Estate Consultant - Brookings, OR
Brookings, Oregon

Hello Clint, thanks for all these great tips. I am happy to say that I didn't find any of your list of don'ts in any of my advertising. But I do appreciate some new ideas from the do list! Like the bring your hammer and ideas!

Aug 27, 2008 07:07 AM #1
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Lori -- You are very welcome!  My pleasure!  And Im glad you were able to pick up a couple new lines!  Feel free to use them as you

Aug 27, 2008 07:08 AM #2
Aventura | Bal Harbour | Sunny Isles Beach | REALTORĀ® 786-229-7999
SIB REALTY, Llc // - Sunny Isles, FL

It is easy to get trapped into using the typical property descriptions. Very useful information to avoid a discrimination or steering complaint.

Aug 27, 2008 07:12 AM #3
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

SIB -- Yes, it is easy to fall into that trap.  And, in this world of fresh content, this is one area that people tend to fall down on...And if you can avoid a steering complaint out of it, then its worth it, right??  Ive seen so many of these types of comments, I think this should be a required class.  Thanks for the compliment and for taking the time to comment.  Much appreciated. 

Aug 27, 2008 07:17 AM #4
Leesa Finley
RED Properties - Wake Forest, NC
RED Properties - Raleigh NC Real Estate

Good reminders, Clint!  While they are all very important - the brand name reminders are SPOT ON!

Aug 27, 2008 08:32 AM #5
Amanda Evans
DFW Living - Fort Worth, TX
Real Estate Broker - Fort Worth Texas

I saw an MLS listing recently with a storage building that was described as "perfect for all those boy toys". 

His and her closets aren't the best idea for a description either. 

Aug 27, 2008 11:02 AM #6
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Leesa -- Thank you very much!  Yes, I was especially fond of those also!  :-)

Amanda -- Im please to see you comment on this!  Thank you!  Also very good reminders...and a welcome addition to this list.  Thanks!

Aug 27, 2008 02:24 PM #7
Paddy (Patricia) Pizappi
Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty - Pine Bush, NY
Real Estate Associate Broker Hudson Valley NY

Good post Clint. I am constantly amazed at the number of things I find in listings that are either illegal <fair housing violations> or just so exclusionary that they actually turn off potential buyers rather than attract them.  

Aug 28, 2008 12:17 AM #8
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Paddy -- Thank you very much!  That is the reason I wanted to investigate this...I see listing ads all the time that are violations of some form or another.  Makes me wonder how they sell

Someone flag this for a feature!  This needs to be read by everyone!

Aug 28, 2008 12:40 AM #9
Roselind Hejl
Coldwell Banker United - Austin, TX

Clint, your blog post came up on my "Google Alerts!" Thanks for the kind words! 

I still find myself wanting to say, "Family home" or "Family neighborhood."  Agents still use that word a lot.  It connotes a safe neighborhood with married couples and children.  But, when you think about it, we don't know if the neighborhood is "safe" and, there are lots of people who don't fit that description.  So, it's really not a good word to use. 

Thanks!  Roselind Hejl -

Aug 28, 2008 01:52 AM #10
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Roselind!!!  Im sooo happy to see you on here!  And, Im very thankful that you commented!  Gotta love them Google Alerts!  :-)

I agree with you entirely!  And because of that connotation of 'safety', you can really end up in a world of trouble.  One agent had even mentioned that some of the listing ads they see are almost a form of 'steering', which I would agree with...

Again, thank you sooo much for reading this post...and for commenting.  And I hope I did you proud enough to be able to work with you in the future.  :-)

Aug 28, 2008 02:03 AM #11
Clint Miller
Real Estate Pipeline, Inc. - Missoula, MT

Im still so pleased that Roselind commented on this blog!  Hopefully we will be able to continue our successful partnership

Aug 29, 2008 12:31 AM #12
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