What are the 10 most important words needed to sell a home? It depends on what the market desires. How do you know what the market desires? Either through a lot of hands-on specialization in one neighborhood or some customized artificial intelligence (AI) software. One costs you time and effort; the other may set you back several million dollars.
Let’s first talk about what a neighborhood is. I don’t see it as a geographic location. What I see is a collection of people with similar values and desires. You have to define your market by values and desires and not by demographics such as age, income or education level. (For you marketing aficionados, we are now leaning toward using psychographic segmentation.)
There are reasons a lot of people want to live in an urban loft. And there are reasons a lot of people want to live in rural areas, or suburbs, or on a beach. In an urban loft, you can easily have 20-somethings living next to 60-somethings, with one making $200,000 a year with no college education, and another making $50,000 a year with a Ph.D. Those differences don’t matter; they are drawn to the neighborhood by similar values and desires. Those values and desires are the keys to the words you need to know and use.
My theory is that these values and desires are driven by two major emotions: pride and fear. Pride develops from a desire to be acknowledged as a successful person in public. But how success is defined varies greatly by neighborhood.
Here’s an example: Why would someone be very excited by slab granite counters and cherry cabinets in a kitchen? Formica and oak work fine; so would plywood counters and particle board cabinets. You can chop up anything you want or store anything you wish using any of these materials.
Pride factors in a home can trigger emotions that are driven by envisioned future life events. Mr. Homeowner may be driven by the emotional benefits when the in-laws come over for Thanksgiving dinner and remark on what a beautiful home he shares with their daughter. This emotion goes deeper than immediate superficial pride; such a comment would demonstrate that he’s a “good provider” for his wife and family; that he’s a success in life. The same goes for when Mrs. Homeowner invites friends or co-workers to her home for some event. Positive comments equate to success — and public acknowledgment of success is pride.
And pride does not necessarily mean fancy possessions. If you want to live in a cabin on 500 acres and all of your friends think it’s the coolest thing in the world that you can all sit on your back porch and target-shoot with your pistols, then that’s a hot pride factor in that particular market.
I believe that what makes one home stand out from the others is based on these emotionally charged envisioned future life events as triggered by aspects of each home; in one example, the granite and cherry would be part of those triggers, whereas pride for our loft-dwellers may come from telling their friends that they’ve sold their car and can accomplish anything they wish via light rail, subway or bicycle. For both groups, the pride is felt when friends’ eyes become wide in astonishment … with perhaps just a hint of envy in their expression.
These are the aspects, emotional triggers, descriptions — words you must discover and use. Forget everything else.
So if the property you are selling has granite and cherry, these must be in the top 10 words, right? Perhaps … but maybe not.
Pride motivations exist on a sliding scale. So let’s jump back to defining neighborhoods as a collective of people with similar values and desires. If we are in a $200,000 neighborhood, our granite and cherry may have a vast, emotional pride impact relative to other homes viewed. If we take the same $15,000 of granite and cherry to a $1 million neighborhood, they may have almost zero emotional impact. It’s the same feature but causes a completely different emotional effect.
To get the same pride impact in our million-dollar neighborhood, perhaps we need custom-built cabinets, ideally by a well-known provider of such workmanship, whereas our loft-dwellers may see granite as passé and demand concrete or steel counters. Every neighborhood has different values and desires.
You can discover the major pride factors of any neighborhood through experience or custom AI software. But these are different for every neighborhood. However, once you know what they are, you must present as many of these as possible. Use concrete terms, including brand names if you have them. Viking or Sub-Zero creates an envisioned dinner party in your mind, and you are already receiving the emotional pride benefits this moment. You have that similar kind of impact in every neighborhood and price range; it’s just that emotional triggers vary — based on the values and desires of people drawn to each neighborhood.
Describe these terms tangibly; don’t use fluffy, meaningless phrases like “pride of ownership” or “wonderful family home.” These descriptions take up space and trigger no pride emotions for buyers.
Now do the same with your pictures and videos. Nobody wants to see another standard bathroom with a panning shot of a toilet — stop it. The vast majority of bathrooms and bedrooms, even in nice homes, are b-o-r-i-n-g. Ignore them. Focus your visual presentation on the same areas where your words had the highest emotional impact and stop there.
Once your buyer is head-over-heels in love with the property — and that feeling of love is entirely emotionally driven, based on envisioned future life events — then a twinge of fear sets in. They are compelled to test out their decision rationally for just a moment. They are afraid they may make a mistake.
Again, through experience or expensive software, you can discover why some homes sold for much less than others that are physically very similar and in the same neighborhood. Often, it’s because they lacked the volume of pride triggers that the higher-priced homes had. But sometimes they had problems — negative factors that scared the homebuyers away
Once you determine those fear triggers, you can either remove or fix those problems or acknowledge your lower value based on market actions. It will do you no good to embellish a description through your words, pictures and video; the market will find out through their visits, and you’ll start on a lengthy decline of price reductions and ever-increasing time on the market.
And don’t panic, filling your descriptions with meaningless terms. You’ll just embolden your seller before the lengthy decline of price drops and ever-increasing time on the market.
Know what the market desires the most; excite them with concrete descriptions matching their desires. If your home seller won’t work with you by preparing their home based on the market’s greatest desires, then politely walk away and let another broker learn this lesson the hard way. The homeowners will appreciate your research and honesty.