Marketing

7 listing grammar mistakes you can’t afford to make

Agents: Pay attention to what you write
  • Don’t rely on spellcheck.
  • A confused buyer will just move on to the next home.
  • A home description should emotionally connect with the buyer.

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Real estate agents are always on the go. There is plenty that falls on their plate, and clean copy isn’t a top priority. Getting the listing up on the MLS as soon as possible supersedes taking the time to edit the text, right? You just want it up there, and unless your broker provides amazing support, this task is usually left to you, the agent.

Although you might not write the next great American novel, you should follow some basic best practices to ensure that your listing won’t get skipped.

Did you know that studies have shown that improper grammar and misspellings can prevent a potential buyer from touring a home? A survey conducted by Redfin found that 87 percent of people classified the home’s description as extremely important or very important.

Although a photo is worth 1,000 words, the home description helps buyers understand things that aren’t apparent in the photos, and it determines how likely a potential homebuyer is to visit a home. Descriptions lacking in substance or filled with misspellings and grammar errors discourage potential buyers. Here are seven mistakes you should avoid at all costs.

Things to avoid

1. All caps

Agents aren’t the only ones looking at the MLS description; your prospects are, too. With so many sites using IDX technology, it’s hard to imagine that a site that isn’t.

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Having all your copy in caps makes it hard for the reader, and many interpret it as shouting.

2. Relying on spellcheck

Although we’ve grown accustomed to our spellcheck tools and autocorrect, they are only good to a certain extent. After running a spellcheck tool, go ahead and reread the copy to ensure that trough was not meant to be through.

3. Misusing homophones

A cabinet that complements a counter top is not the same as a cabinet that compliments a counter top. Although I’m sure your cabinets are nice, they aren’t likely complimenting anything. Or how about: “Seller willing to except all offers.”

Triple check that words such as their, they’re and there are correct.

A list of words to watch out for:

  • except/accept
  • minor/miner
  • aisle/isle
  • principal/principle
  • pain/pane
  • pair/pare/pear
  • canvas/canvass
  • seas/sees/seize
  • marquee/marquis
  • palate/palette/pallet
  • by/buy/bye
  • pail/pale
  • peek/pique/peak

4. Improper punctuation

Failing to use punctuation can change the meaning of the sentence you were trying to convey. You don’t want to give buyers the wrong idea.

“Historical home with modern features won’t last long.” This sentence implies that you get what you pay for, versus that the home won’t be on the market long for the price it’s listed at.

5. Too many abbreviations

Buyers aren’t familiar with real estate industry jargon. It isn’t just agents looking at descriptions; it’s buyers. The average homebuyer can’t interpret all of the abbreviations used. A confused buyer will just move on to the next home.

“Spacious fp features 5 br, and 7.1 baths. MS located down, offers gen., closet space.”

6. Using terms that don’t relate to a home’s architecture

Much like Spongebob discovering a sentence enhancer, we all get excited when we learn a new word. A word in a different language can be even more exciting — exotic even.

For example “en plein air” a French term used to refer to painters who paint in the open air. This term, when applied to a home, loses its meaning. It might sound cool to say a plein air great room to refer to a great room in open air, but buyers will be confused, and the terminology just doesn’t apply.

Alternatively, you could say the home features a great room that allows en plein air artist a world of endless possibilities. All too often, terms that are not appropriate are used to describe the architecture of a home. This isn’t the time to get creative; you want your buyer to understand.

7. Not telling the home’s story

A home description should emotionally connect with the buyer, and it should never be a laundry list of features. Entice them! Make them feel what it would be like to live in this new home; don’t just list features in a way that is confusing. Tell the story of the home from the moment you walk through the door.

If you take the time to write a good listing description, you are more likely to sell a home quicker and as close to asking price as possible. That merits the extra time to make sure you get it right.

For the full report and data, visit the Redfin blog.

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Laura Ure is the CEO of Keenability, a marketing agency specializing in lifestyle marketing that targets the affluent buyer. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Email Laura Ure.