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If you are selling your home and want traffic when you put out your “For Sale” sign, craft your
advertising wisely. According to research, a listing's sales language not only affected sale prices, but also the length of time it took for the listings to actually close.
Throughout this step, we will help you understand the importance of the words you use and how to get acquainted with ad lingo. Know what words to use – and more importantly, what words to avoid. While not an exact science, some words seem to give a listing more power than others. For example, "Beautiful" instead of "move-in condition" actually translated on average to over 5 percent more on the sale price. Words that defined curb appeal or general attractiveness like “good neighborhood” or “excellent upkeep”, helped property sell faster than those that only described "value" and "price". So, look for selling words that appeal to today’s market. Turn "spacious" into "open floor plan," "vaulted" or "high ceilings" or "spacious layout." Even your fireplace can have a little extra sizzle when it is described as a "traditional wood-burning fireplace with designer built-in bookcases."
A spin is important
If your home was decorated by an interior decorator, you might want to say, designer décor, professionally designed or maybe even Pottery Barn-inspired. It's also important to use proper terminology to enhance a feature. A great example of this might be describing heated floors in a master bathroom. You should refer to them as 'radiant heating' and the master bath as a spa-like master bathroom. If there's nothing new, you could say, lovingly maintained instead. Even the real estate pros do a walk-through of the house to find its outstanding features. Look for the romance in your home and describe that in your ad because every home has romance in it. Another helpful tip is to spend a little time before you create your ad, look at other ads that you consider successful, and ask your friends what they like about your house. See the words they use, also look online for more contemporary terms. Let’s face it; you know your house and area better than anyone else.
Words to avoid
Words like foreclosure, short sale, REO, bankruptcy, auction, wholesale or below wholesale may not be a draw in all neighborhoods, but if you need to sell fast, these words could be a magnet - especially to investors. They understand it means a good deal saving them on the asking price, even if they have to put money into the house.
A study from the University of Texas at San Antonio titled "Real Estate Agent Remarks: Help or Hype?" analyzed agent "comments" or "remarks" section on the Multiple Listing Service and its impact on selling price and time on the market. These are sections where the agent can add extra information about a property. The study found that comments that state facts about a house are associated with increased selling prices.
Another key fact is that buyers are attracted to amenities that can be verified - new roof, new carpeting, updated kitchen, beautiful landscaping, golf course community, lakefront, waterfront, gated community. Other factually verifiable assets might include finished basements or cul-de-sacs. Don’t be deceptive! Don’t use the word 'water front view' unless it honestly has a water front view – and that doesn’t mean from the third-floor attic window and only when there are no leaves on the trees. If a property has a water view, it has to be fully visible from someplace in the house. Also the word "new" can be a little tricky. While new kitchen, new bath, new roof and new windows sounds inviting, a simple guideline of “new” means two to three years or "newer" if it's older than that, it’s not so new.
The National Association of Realtors offers the following tips:
1. Start with a strong opening statement about the home, whether it's "Charming cottage" or "Entertainer's delight," sell those features in the headline.
2. Mention the one or two key benefits that will attract buyers' attention and spark their interest in the first 10 words of the ad.
3. Include the salient facts about the property, such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and the asking price.
4. If selling the house on your own, be sure to include your name, telephone number, e-mail address and website.
5. Use words that appeal to the emotions and senses - that is, feel, see, enjoy.
6. Avoid abbreviations and real estate jargon that the average consumer won't understand, such as "HDW" (or hardwood floors) and "CTH" (for cathedral ceilings).
7. Be accurate. Prospective buyers are bound to feel disappointed or manipulated if the home doesn't match your description.
8. Close with a statement encouraging the prospect to contact you. "Call today" is good.
9. Keep a notebook of attractive home descriptions from the Multiple Listing Service or newspapers and other property ads, so you'll get ideas for writing blurbs.
Words that could bring in extra money:
Gorgeous: Everyone wants a pretty house.
Move-in condition and turnkey: These phrases communicate cleanliness and that your house can be moved into with minimal fuss, speeding up sales time by 12 percent.
Lovingly maintained: Means, "I'll save money on repairs."
Beautiful professional landscaping: This fires the imagination. Curb appeal attracts interest because a buyer believes the inside will look good, too.
Granite Countertops: The common countertop and floor material equates with luxury.
Gourmet Kitchen: This is a draw for a cook, who might imagine a beautiful kitchen to work in.
Must see: A phrase that attracts attention
Words that might lower your price:
Motivated and must sell: These can be loosely translated as, "I'm already willing to lower my price before the buyer even sees it." A wiser choice might be, "Priced to sell."
Good value: It may sound like it's a good value for an unappealing property. "Market value" or "aggressively priced" might work better.
As-is: This can be interpreted as, "The house is a mess, and the owner can't do anything with it." Try, "Needs TLC" or, "Needs sprucing up."
Starter home: Don't use this expression, the research warns. Instead, let buyers decide if they want to live and die in the house or use it as a steppingstone.
Vacant: Stage the house; don't let it be shown empty.
Oversized: Large homes are a white elephant. Experts suggest using "good layout" instead.
Small: Your home or condo may be cozy, but don't call it small.
Basement: "Lower level" is more appealing.
Appliance credit: If your appliances are on their last legs, replace them before putting your home on the market and advertise, "New appliances."
Near a bus line or near a train line: People don't like to imagine the fumes or noise. "Easy commute" is smarter.
Beware of violating fair housing
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a Realtor or even a person selling his own home privately to "make, print or publish" any statement that "indicates" any preference, limitation or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin, You can be subject to fines and even lawsuits if you violate the law.
Discriminating words to avoid:
Race: You cannot promote a particular minority.
Religion: Do not mention a nearby church, temple or mosque. Near houses of worship is OK.
National origin: You cannot say that members of the community are predominately from a specific country.
Sex: Bachelor apartment can be viewed as discriminatory against women, as can mother/daughter, which can be seen as discriminatory against men.
Handicap: Mentioning walking distance to a market, train or park is arguable if a buyer is unable to walk.
Familial Status: Saying "perfect for couples with kids" discriminates against those who don't have children.