Who writes the fluffy house descriptions?! Out-of-work poets, creative writing students, used-car salesmen? Bottom line: words matter. Real-estate listings, not unlike personal ads, are crafted to minimize blemishes and maximize perceived selling points.
Decoding home marketing-speak can be just as complicated as figuring out what men really mean when they say “I love you” or your girlfriend’s huffy “nothing’s wrong!” A recent Los Angeles Times article gives us a decoder ring for words like motivated, move-in condition, new paint and more.
We evaluated the meaning of a few keywords from this week’s three least-expensive, new listings (the typos are real as well as the screaming text):
$277,000, one-bed, one-bath, 512-square-foot condo in San Jose:
VERY AFFORDABLE = has issues
ZERO DOWN = agent used to be a used-car salesman and will throw in free mats
EXCELLENT CONDITION = well-maintained
AMPLE CLOSET, & STORAGE SPACE = the rest of the unit is so unexceptional and everyone likes big closets
LOVELY & TRANQUIL = no neighbors?
Three $285,000, two-bed, one-bath, 819-square-foot condos in Oakland:
PRICE REDUCTION = desperate … seller overpriced it to start with and eventually had to lower it
Beautiful designer colors = Ralph Lauren was my personal designer
Granite = modern
nw carpts & pnt = we couldn’t find anything better to say … maybe I should have listened to my mother and said nothing at all
$290,000, two-bedroom, two-bath, 944-square-foot condo in Antioch:
2 TONE INTERIOR PAINT = nothing special, but doesn’t two-tone sound cool?
LAMINATE FLOOR ENTRY = this is a selling point? Is this 1970?
UPGRADED CARPET & TILED BATHROOMS = what we had before was BAD, this is a little better
Let’s compare this to the most-expensive new listing this week, a $9.998 million, 8,100-square-foot home in Los Gatos:
THIS PRESTIGIOUS ESTATE = bigger than a breadbox and Robin Leach-worthy
SITUATED ON MORE THAN 6 ACRES OF MAGNIFICENT KNOLL TOP LAND = you will be king of the hill and your neighbors will look like ants
THIS HOME FEATURES A VINTAGE CLAY ROOF, IMPORTED STONE WORK, AND TOP OF THE LINE OLD WORLD FINISHES THROUGHOUT = third-world child labor made this all possible
Check out the article for interesting facts such as …
Homes where the seller was “motivated” took 15 percent longer to sell
Houses listed as “handyman specials” flew off the market in half the average time.
Words that denoted “curb appeal” or general attractiveness helped a property sell faster than those that spoke of “value” and “price.”
Homes described as “beautiful” moved 15 percent faster and for 5 percent more in price than the benchmark.
“Good-value” homes sold for 5 percent less than average.
In conclusion, sellers would be best-served by a listing with “just the facts, ma’am.”
Decoder ring credit: Heather McKinnon, The Seattle Times