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What's in a Word? With Real Estate Writing, Quite a Bit!

by Reno Manuele

real-estate-writing-words-paul-anglin-thomas-thomson-adjectives-descriptions-housing

Real estate writing can make a big difference in when – and for how much – a property sells, and recent statistical analysis has attached some numbers to that fact.

By Peter Ricci

Real estate writing, as any successful agent can anecdotally support, can have a profound impact on how quickly a property sells and at what price, but a series of fascinating studies recently spotlighted by the Wall Street Journal have added some statistical evidence to why good, effective and honest real estate writing can be so darn effective for selling property.

The Give and Take of Adjectives

The first of the studies is by Paul Anglin, an associate professor of real estate at the University of Guelph in Ontario who has been studying the nuances of real estate writing for some time. Certain adjectives and descriptions, Anglin has found, can make a big difference in a home’s chances on the market, but they can also result in trade-off situations. For example:

  • Using the word “beautiful” to describe a home will make it sell 15 percent faster, and increase the final sale price by 5 percent.
  • “Landscaping” is similarly influential, with a 20 percent faster sale time and 6 percent higher sale price.
  • “Handyman special,” by comparison, leads to a 50 percent faster sale time, but the final sale price plummets by 30 percent.
  • “Good value” has the same effect, with a 5 percent faster sale time but 5 percent lower sale price.
  • The one phrase to definitively avoid, though, is “motivated seller,” which adds 30 percent to the sale time and decreases the sale price by 8 percent.

Attributions in Real Estate Writing

Careful references to a home’s attributes can also positively benefit a home’s sale price and listing time. For instance, mentions of a home’s “granite,” “maple” or “gourmet” lead to a stronger selling price, according to research by the National Bureau of Economic Research; additionally, research by University of Texas at San Antonio Professor Thomas Thomson has found that mentioning “garage” increases sale price by 9.8 percent, and “fireplace” and “lake” increase it by 6.8 and 5.6 percent, respectively.

One thing both bodies of research found, though (and as we ourselves wrote not too long ago), was that hyperbole has no place in real estate writing. From “clean,” to “quiet,” to “fantastic” and “charming,” such words can seem not only superficial, but can, in the opinion of Thomson, create unfair expectations in prospective homebuyers that are inevitably crushed when they see the actual property.

“It’s like putting lipstick on a pig. If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig,” Thomson told the Journal.

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