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6 overused real estate phrases it’s time to retire

By February 11, 2015 One Comment

As an agent, you have HUGE potential. With a little tender loving care, you’ll be turnkey. You’re a motivated seller and an exquisite, gourmet, breathtaking, premier real estate maven one would have to see to believe!!!

Do you see the problem? When consumers are presented with hollow language like this, they don’t really understand what you do and why you’re the best at it.

This lesson also applies to property descriptions. All too often they’re laden with jargon that’s heavy on rhetorical real estate fluff but anemic when it comes to actual substance. The result?

Descriptions with the potential to engage emotions and increase perceived value either fall flat or are entirely overlooked. The good news is that even if you’re not a natural wordsmith, there are ways to ensure your listing description draws crowds, not crickets. First order of business? Get rid of these six trite phrases forever:

1. “This home has it all!”

Exaggerated statements like this do nothing for the potential buyer. And let’s face it, no home can really “have it all” because “it all” means something very different to everybody.

The alternative: In lieu of requiring your home be everything to everyone (how exhausting!), focus on its best attributes. What makes the home unique? What type of buyer would be interested in some of the home’s most prominent features? Honesty and specificity beat hyperbole every time.

2. “Gives new meaning to ‘turnkey.’”

The word “turnkey” has been employed across industries to describe anything and everything ready for immediate use. The result? In a word, overuse. Also, unless you represent Webster’s or the “Oxford Dictionary” (and maybe even then), be careful about stating that anything “gives new meaning” to a word. That’s the evolution of the English language you’re messing with, my friend.

The alternative: We use it a lot, but that’s OK; “move-in ready” is still a buzzworthy phrase. Or, just state the facts: “With upgraded appliances and every surface finished, there’s nothing left to improve.”

3. “This home boasts …”

A home is an inanimate thing, so it can’t boast. Plus, the word makes us all feel like we should be uttering it in voice-over while taping an episode of “Lifestyles Of the Rich and Famous,” circa 1985.

The alternative: Focus on the buyer’s relationship with the home. Consider describing the emotions and senses the space may evoke. What if you painted the picture of how refreshing it would be to sip your morning coffee in the light-flooded kitchen or wake up to the fragrant jasmine breezes off the master balcony? Suddenly, the buyer is there, imagining everyday life in a new home.

4. “Gourmet kitchen, chef’s dream!”

Most kitchens designated as “gourmet” actually aren’t. They’re nice, to be sure, but not the stuff a chef’s dreams are made of. (Come to think of it, we should probably stop pigeonholing chefs by presuming to know what they dream about in the first place.)

The alternative: Describe the kitchen in value-building detail. How many burners does the stove have? Is it laid out in a particular way that makes ease of use a priority? What sort of bells and whistles, such as soft-close cabinetry and undercabinet task lighting, does the kitchen feature?

5. “HUGE ______!!!!”

Huge is conversational, but there are better, more refined words to use when describing something large. Unless you’re 8 years old, and you live in a place with a mild climate where palmetto bugs reach gigantic proportions, and you saw one crawl up your wall and your older sister screeched when she saw it and you want to tell all your friends at school about it, and how crazy big it was, then, by all means, use the word “huge.”

The alternative: Several synonyms will work, and they’re all available online. (Trade secret: Professional copywriters use online thesauruses to find creative words to replace not-so-exciting ones all the time. Make the interwebs your very own idea generator. We won’t tell anyone.) Oh, and make a commitment to remove “shouty” capitals and multiple exclamation points from your repertoire forever.

6. “Must see to believe.”

The purpose of a creative, vivid, well-written property description is to complement the photos and describe the home in such a way that it doesn’t have to be seen in person to be believed. You know that phrase, “You had to be there?” People use it when situational stories fall flat.

The alternative: Tell a story people care about. If you lack ideas, think sight, smell, taste, touch or sound. What memories could be built here? What feelings emerge as you walk through the space? Emotionally engage the buyer, and they’re dreaming with you.

So that’s it! Go forth, real estate maven. Turn up that smart-sounding music, queue up and let that cute little literary smirk of yours out of hiding. Each time you write a property description, just ask yourself, “Have I seen this phrase before?” If the answer is yes, try something new. Take some word risks, and the results are sure to pay off. You’ll be on your way to property-description excellence in no time.

Bonus: Worried about wordiness? It’s easy to get wound up in complicated sentences. Plus, most of us don’t have staff editors to help us out of the mess. For these intricate moments, we love the Hemingway app. Paste your copy into the app, and it’ll unpack your jam-packed prose, passive voice and lackluster wordage to help you turn your message into something much simpler and clearer.

And you shouldn’t feel bad about using this shortcut. After all, as Papa himself once said, “The first draft of anything is [a word that rhymes with grit].”

As founder and CEO of RUHM Inc., a luxury marketing firm based in Irvine, California, Mark Fitzpatrick seeks to revolutionize the way properties are branded, bought and sold.

Email Mark Fitzpatrick.

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