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Is real estate lingo for real?

03/12/2012

It's probably fair to say that the majority of residential real estate agents are good at their jobs. They know their local market inside out, they help buyers find the right house and they work hard to get the best price for their client. One thing though that many agents are not good at and that is writing advertising copy. Often they use several words where one would do nicely, and at other times they truncate their sentences making the sentence almost meaningless. With punctuation they are either free and easy or stingy and they overuse words and phrases that no one else uses - ever. Here is a selection of just some of the doozies in this week's Property Press:

Let's start with "From the elegance of a bygone era, to the modern conveniences you deserve today". Do normal people ever discuss in their day to day lives "bygone eras", or that other agent favourite "the charm of yesteryear"? How does one deserve a modern convenience today as opposed to yesterday or next week? We know what the agent is trying to say but it could've been put so much better. In fact such awful writing would put me off viewing this "immaculately presented home" (agent speak for tidied and vacuumed).

One house "offers uncomplicated living throughout". What is uncomplicated living? Should one move into this house would life for that person suddenly become uncomplicated no matter what room they are in? Charlie Sheen should seriously consider buying this place and take up cooking in the kitchen that "will please the most discerning chef". 

Here's an example of the completely superfluous "..excellent outdoor living areas with pretty garden surrounds". What value does the word "surrounds" add? Why not just say "with a pretty garden"? It sounds better and certainly more appealing. On the other hand many agents are allergic to finishing sentences. Over and over you will see the phrase "this home is sure to impress". Impress whom or what and why? Would the Sultan of Brunei be impressed by a permanent materials ownership flat in St Kilda? It's doubtful.  

Many ads overuse words and then put them in the wrong context. One house has been "designed to afford privacy". How does a house "afford" privacy? It makes no sense but because a linguistically-challenged agent once used it, it caught on and has been used over and over ever since.  Another house is "enveloped in 5 acres of land". Why not just say it's "on 5 acres". If it's acres we're talking about then it's got to be land. Furthermore acres don't envelop. 

Another house was designed "with ease of lifestyle in mind so that if you head out of town for the weekend you wont be swamped with lawns to mow on your return". It could be me but I'm pretty sure that most house-hunters do not have at the top of their tick list "Must not be swamped with lawns to mow after a weekend away". 

For one house "the possibilities are limited only by your imagination" and for another one "the options are aplenty". Aplenty? I feel sorry for people from non English-speaking backgrounds just trying to find a nice house. 

With Christmas coming up, my favourite is a "Family home on approx two acres perfect for horse/pony, sheep or a couple of cattle beasts". It brings to mind the Nativity. 

Real estate agents' forte is selling not writing. They would do themselves and their clients a great favour by getting friends, colleagues or even hiring a professional to check their copy. A well-written real estate ad is a pleasure to read, and readers are more likely to respond positively to an agent who appreciates a nice turn of phrase as well as turning a nice profit.