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Real Estate Ads, words that sell and words that fail

Updated on July 1, 2016

Selling a house? What single word in your ad can add thousands of dollars to the selling price? Do you know which words work best? Do you know that some commonly used real estate ad words can backfire and harm your sale opportunities?

There are a lot of standard phrases used in real estate ads. Just because you see a phrase used a lot doesn't make it a winner. Some of those common phrases, like "motivated seller" can work against you!

Are you a FSBO? That translates to "For Sale By Owner", pronounced "fizz-bo". Do you use a real estate agent? Either way, you need to pay attention to how your home is marketed. The words chosen for your ad and flyer's can lure in prospects or can turn them off!

A real estate agent's experience can be valuable in marketing your house. But how about adding a little scientific research?

Paul Anglin, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario Canada is also a real estate economist. Professor Anglin led a study in two counties in Ontario to study the effect of real estate ad phrasing on sales price and time on market. The results showed that some common words had a demonstrably positive effect on selling price, and shortening the time to sell. The surprise, to me, was that some commonly used words can get in the way and cost you money!

What's the magic word?

One of the words that can put more money in your pocket is "beautiful". The study showed that using the word beautiful scored an additional 5% in the resulting sales price. That works out to $15,000 on a $300,000 house. I don't know about you, but my house is beautiful!

What are some of the other words that scored positively and negatively in the study?

___________________Words that sell____________________

Some words strike a positive note with today's buyer. Here are some words that have shown a positive effect:

  • Curb appeal
  • Move-in condition
  • Landscaping
  • Granite
  • Gourmet
  • Golf
  • must see


__________________Words that can fail__________________

Some good sounding words can double-cross you! Here are some commonly used ad words and how they can be misinterpreted:

  • Motivated seller - loosely translated as "I'll take less money so low ball your bid"
  • Good Value - loosely translated as "It may not be much, but it's a bargain."
  • As-is - loosely translated as "It's a mess and we can't do anything with it, are you dumb enough to try?"

Other words and phrases that can work against you:

  • must sell
  • good value
  • starter home
  • vacant
  • handyman special
  • motivated


__________________A note of caution___________________

It should go with out saying that the words you use must be honest choices. If it's a dump, then the word "beautiful" will get a snicker, not a sale. If you use "curb appeal" then the house better look good as the prospect drives up and gets their second impression. You ad is their first impression; and it should be as good as you can make it!


Professor Anglin's study was covered in a news release that found it's way into several major newspaper articles. I saw the study result first in an article written by Ann Brenoff in the LA Times and reprinted in the Arizona Republic.

Other interesting articles on real estate sales

The Cheating Realtor: Shady Real Estate Agents is a very controversial article; be sure to read the comments.

How To Stage a Home For Sale

How To Prepare Your Home For Sale: A Guide to Staging

OPEN HOUSE!....Risky for Sellers & Agents


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