Industry NewsNews Brief

Listing descriptions deserve care and creativity

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I was a kindergartner when my little brother came along. Princess Alisha was not impressed.

Even though my mother quit work to stay at home, every time I needed something, the new little brother demanded her attention with his eating, pooping, and screaming.

Around that time, a fabulous new family moved in next door. There were three kids to play with and their mother served Capri Sun, Otter Pops, and Oreo cookies as after school snacks — waaaay better than the plain bagels on our countertop.

But the real coup d’etat sat majestically in their backyard: a real, honest-to-goodness trampoline! I LOVED trampolines!!!

Allison, the daughter, and I became fast friends. There was only one hitch.

Allison’s mother, being super responsible, required that I bring her a note of permission from one of my parents before I even touched the trampoline. I ran home, desperate. But, as you might have guessed, my mother was busy. Busy with the baby, busy making dinner, busy, busy, busy.

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"Just write me a note!" I screamed.

"Alisha," she responded shrilly, "write it yourself!" Well! Hmph! Of all things! Making me, a kindergartner — hey, wait — me write the note? Oh. Okay!

First, I needed paper.

Hmmm… well, apparently, our house didn’t have paper. I couldn’t even find construction paper (another sign of parental neglect). So, I had to improvise. I found a discarded shoe box top in the garage. It was flat and blank. It would do just fine!

After I commandeered a pen, I sat down on our front porch to compose a note.

The note had to convey authority. I didn’t want Allison’s mom suspecting that my mother hadn’t written it. The note also needed to be concise — and most importantly — spelled correctly. Every kindergartner knows that. I mentally ran through all the words I knew how to spell and cross-checked them with all the important words necessary for my note: permission, allowed, trampoline, fun, neighbors, snacks, eat, many, Oreos.

Yikes. I didn’t know how to spell any of those words. I scrunched my forehead, I chewed on my pen. Time was a ticking! Finally, I just went for it. In all capital letters I carefully wrote: "SHE CAN!" I put the exclamation point on the end to give it my mother’s voice.

Perfect! The note was concise, to the point, spelled correctly, and conveyed authority. I breathlessly ran it over to the neighbor’s house, thrust it into Allison’s mother’s hands. I was up on that trampoline before she could say, "Thank you," or, "Have another cookie, cutie".

For some crazy reason, Allison’s mother didn’t believe my mother actually wrote my permission slip. But she let me bounce on the trampoline while she called my house, anyway. "See?" I said, when she hung up the phone, "Every word was spelled right!"

Yes, she nodded, yes.

My takeaway? Correct spelling, punctuation, and language matter. Every time I read a mangled property listing online or in a newspaper, I cringe. I realize there are space restraints, but know your audience. General readers are not versed in Realtor shorthand.

For example, the homes in the listings below boast "ugly sparklers" and "oral orifices." Well, those are just my best guesses. And according to the endless exclamation marks, you should be really excited about them! Really!

  • NEW PRICE! Custom home exudes pride of ownership boasting 4 bedrooms, 2.1 baths, 2 lvng areas, dining, nook, kitchen w/ granite counters, new laminate flring, pantry & stnls stl appliances. Surround sound, fenced, landscaping, b/i hot tub, Trex decks w/ 2 cvrd patios, lrg 2 car garage, u/g spklrs, shed & storage galore! Close to shopping, schools & freewy. OPEN HOUSE 8/19 1-3pm.
  • McNary Estates Best! Sensational remodel done w/an Interior Designers Eye of perfection! 2 huge beautiful Master Suites w/vaults & fans! 3rd guest rm or ofc & 3rd full bath! All counters are gorgeous Corian! Beautiful tile flrs layed on the diagonal! 2nd MBR is privately located up! All other living on the main! Darling bricked in cvrd patio w/fan! McNary Estates yrly dues $235! HOA monthly $212 inclu all ext maintenance & landscaping! New roof 2009, new siding 2004, new paint 2010, new gas furnace Jan 2012.

Eighty-some percent of buyers start online, right? That’s what we’re told. They start by researching homes and agents. They read these descriptions. And then, they choose who to work with… and I know I’ve said this exact same thing before, but here I go again: take the time to write your home descriptions with care and creativity. Because it matters.

As a side note, neither of these Realtors would be allowed on Allison’s trampoline. I’m sure of it.

Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore., and a real estate humorist.

Contact Alisha Alway Braatz:
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