Words in real-estate listings influence sale, study reveals
WINDSOR, Ont. — When it comes to real estate, everyone knows what matters is location. So, too, it turns out, does locution. A University of Guelph professor, who conducted a three-year study of home sales in Windsor, discovered to his surprise that words used in real-estate listings greatly affect how fast homes sell.
“Many aspects of selling a home are important,” said Paul Anglin, who teaches real estate in the school’s department of marketing and consumer studies. “But wording is more important than we thought.”
Thanks to information provided by the Windsor-Essex County Real Estate Board, Anglin studied 20,000 MLS listings between 1997 and 2000 while he was a University of Windsor economics professor.
He originally concentrated on pricing and home features but noticed the power of language.
“Words are what attract a potential buyer to look at a house,” Anglin said. “Most people want to wander through a house before they put down cash. But words are what can get them there.”
For instance, Anglin found that if the word “beautiful” is used in a home listing, it sells 15 per cent faster than average. If the ad refers to attractive landscaping, it sells 20 per cent faster. Say it’s in “move-in” condition, and it sells 12 per cent faster.
The words that speed up a sale can often bring a better price, as well.
Calling it “vacant” or a “must see” was insignificant. But calling it a “rental” property would delay the sale by 60 per cent, which Anglin said may simply reflect a seller’s patience, since the property likely still provides some income.
Anglin says little real estate marketing research explores proper listings.
But in case would-be home sellers think they can just jazz up the wording in their ads and make a sale, Anglin has a caveat.
“Just because you use the word ‘beautiful’ your house won’t necessarily sell faster,” said Anglin. “If you say the house is beautiful and it’s not, then the buyer will either walk away or, when it comes to negotiating, won’t trust the seller. “So lying has it consequences.” Windsor Essex County Real Estate Board president Joe Montaleone said he puts plenty of thought into finding the right words for property advertisements.
“Writing ads is not just putting words — it’s basically trying to tell a story,” said Montaleone.