The survey of nearly 1,300 people found property photos rank as the most compelling marketing factor to buyers. However, 87% of respondents agree the written description of a home is either “extremely important” or “very important.” Similarly, 43% of survey respondents were much less likely to tour a home if they found spelling or grammatical errors in the listing.
The study also analyzed over 100,000 luxury homes sold in 2013 from 52 metro areas nationwide. Listings with spelling and grammatical errors languished on the market longer. Listings written up with clear language and free of errors were 10% more likely to sell for greater than the listing price.
Common errors included:
- misspelled words;
- incorrect punctuation;
- improper use of homonyms (words that are spelled the same but have different meanings);
- text in all capital letters; and
- excessive abbreviations.
But an error-free listing wasn’t the only indicator of successful home sales: shorter descriptions fared better as well. The study found descriptions shorter than 50 words were generally significantly more likely to sell above the listing price. The case for “less is more,” as with real estate forms, prevails again.
Buyer perception is critical when marketing a property. How an agent sells a home is sometimes just as significant as what it is they are selling.
Buyers are quick to catch on to details that lessen the desirability of a home — including what transpires in their interactions with an agent, written or otherwise.
Apply this principle to the language in a listing and all your marketing materials and it’s easy to see why poor spelling can turn off perceptive buyers. Spelling and grammatical errors do more than confuse buyers: they signal to them a lack of professionalism, diligence and competence on the part of the agent. Talent is what everyone seeks, and they see it quickly.
How can a buyer trust you with such a big financial decision if you don’t even take the time to present a clean, accurate listing to them? If you make little grammatical mistakes in a listing, what does this indicate about the more critical facts which might slip under your radar?
Heed the advice from the survey above. For instance, don’t rely too heavily on acronyms or trade jargon if it’s not certain the reader will understand what they mean. Though they may conserve space, obscure acronyms and arcane jargon may not impart any meaning if they are not universally known, becoming just linguistic grime cluttering your listing. The use of words with plain meaning always does best.
Further, don’t use all capital letters, unusual font families, bold text or colored text. Let the property pictures and cogent descriptions entice and compel your audience. Using all caps does not impart drama — it is analogous to yelling and difficult to get the message across. You wouldn’t shout at a prospective client on the phone, would you? Don’t do so in your writing.
Mind the basic rules of grammar and construction. Try to keep your paragraphs short and your sentences shorter.
The key here is to earn a buyer’s trust and interest. Some agents have capitalized on this known fact by adapting their selling strategies, such as offering video tours online to provide more upfront, visual information to the buyer. However, agents don’t need to rely solely on these time-consuming features — sometimes focusing on the details (stated simply and correctly) pays off.
So, make the effort to ensure your listings are well-written and error-free. Spell check programs work to this end. You may even consider taking the extra effort to consult a dictionary — a quick search online does the trick. Alternatively, run your marketing materials or promo past someone else in the office. A different pair of eyes will see things you do not, no matter how closely you’re paying attention.
A listing written correctly presents your properties clearly and professionally. As the study shows, your efforts to this end won’t go unnoticed. Your writing is a reflection of your professional brand: keep it clean, accurate and precise.