A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to selling a home, photos cannot tell the whole story. If you want to draw buyers in, it’s important to understand how descriptive language can attract buyers or turn them off completely. Creative words and phrases help keep your listing from becoming a total snoozefest. Here’s how to make that listing stand out among a sea of boring descriptions. yawn

  • Sellers and agents should be wary of overused terms when describing a home. There are several words you’re guaranteed to find in an average home description; spacious, great, must-see, cozy, quiet, desirable, and charming are just a few of these. Think of more creative ways to describe a home’s features. For instance, half bath sounds boring and tired. Say powder room instead. Don’t say a home is clean. That should be a given, not a selling point. A caveat: as you search for new descriptive terms, make sure to avoid exaggeration. Don’t tell prospective buyers a home is renovated or remodeled if it’s only partially renovated. If a property is near a prime location, you may mention that it’s near the area, but do not misrepresent by saying that it’s in that location.
  • Similarly, be specific in your verbiage. As mentioned above, don’t use “faint praise.” Even positive words can sound weak. Saying that a home is a “must-see” is a cop-out. Talk about the features that make that home a must-see property. In 2005, the National Bureau of Economic Research said that specific words like granite and maple draw more attention. Think about the details that will appeal to buyers most and describe those specifically.
  • Sellers—especially those who are trying to sell their homes on their own—should be aware of the laws and restrictions under the Federal Fair Housing Act. Some verbiage could be seen as discriminatory toward protected classes. The protected classes under FFHA are race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, and national origin. Seemingly harmless language could be misconstrued. For example, you cannot refuse to sell your home to a family with young children (unless it’s in a 55+ retirement community).
  • There are certain details that could be seen as guarantees when they might not work out that way. For example, it’s common to say that a home is in a specific school district, but be careful of highlighting that information. Attendance lines could be redrawn at any time, and if that happens before closing, the buyers might blame the seller or agent for misrepresentation.
  • If you feel like there aren’t enough creative terms to adequately describe a home’s positive points, pitch the lifestyle it offers. Is it located in a popular, upscale, or transitional neighborhood? What quality of life does the home offer? Does it offer mountain views? Is it on an oceanfront golf course? One of those things might be the main selling point for a buyer.

Are there terms that you see way too often in real estate listings? Are you guilty of using tired language in your own listings? Tell us in the comments below!






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