Listing descriptions: words that could lower your listings’ days on market

by Peter Thomas Ricci


We’ll begin with an obvious fact – listing descriptions are important. Indeed, according to the 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of Realtors, a whopping 84 percent of prospective homebuyers think detailed information about a property is “very useful” for online listings; only photographs, at 87 percent, were more valued.

There is also, however, a lesser known fact on listing descriptions  – all words are not equal, and while some can benefit a listing, others can harm them. That was the focus of a very interesting new study from CoreLogic, which combed through the listing language of more than one million closings in 2016 to see which words were associated with fewer (and greater) days on market.

Good: Privacy and openness

CoreLogic found that a number of word pairings were associated with shorter market times:

  • “Fenced backyard”
  • “Open concept”
  • “Natural light”
  • “Updated kitchen”

There was a fascinating contradiction between those terms. On one hand, privacy was a key concern for prospective homebuyers – in addition to “fenced backyard,” the terms “fully fenced,” “fenced back” and “fenced yard” were also among the top pairs associated with shorter market times; yet, on the other hand, “open concept” and “natural light” are consistent with spacious, open designs. So while homebuyers desire space, they want to enjoy it in a private, closed-off home.

Other top word pairs were: “vaulted ceilings,” “new stainless,” “move-in ready,” “split floor,” “laminated floor,” “finished basement” and “single story.”

Bad: Luxury finishes and size

The word pairs that tended to increase days on market contrast in fascinating ways with the earlier, more advantageous terms:

  • “Golf course”
  • “Gourmet kitchen”
  • “Ceramic tile”
  • “Granite countertop”
  • “Two story”

CoreLogic chalked up granite’s surprising inclusion to the rising popularity of quartz, but the other terms suggest rising market times for luxury listings. From “golf course,” to “custom built,” to “gourmet kitchen,” to “two story” (“second floor” was also on the list), CoreLogic surmised that higher-priced listings are losing out to more affordable options, and are thus staying on the market longer – especially considering that “single story” was among the top-selling word paris.

Other word pairs that elongated the selling time were: “main floor,” “square feet,” “acre,” “brand new,” “formal dining room,” “first floor” and “large kitchen.”

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