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Words to use -- and avoid -- in your house ad

Newspaper, The Media, House, Mansion, Real People, Candid,

Newspaper, The Media, House, Mansion, Real People, Candid, Paper, Residential Structure, Construction, Real Estate For Real estate/ VAlerie Kellogg ( iStock) ltc Credit: iStock Photo/

A word to the wise: If you want traffic when you put your house up for sale, craft your house ad wisely. Those are the findings from a study at the University of Guelph in Ontario, where the wording of more than 20,000 Canadian home listings were dissected.

The findings? “Beautiful” versus “move-in condition” translated on the average to 5 percent or more on the sale price. Calling an “out of condition” home a “handyman special” helped the house fly off the market. “Motivated” or “must sell” phrases slowed sales, as did the phrase "as is." Words that denoted “curb appeal” or general attractiveness -- such as good neighborhood, excellent upkeep -- helped property sell faster than those that described “value” and “price.”

Other magic words, according to the study:

Gorgeous (Everyone wants a pretty house.)

Turn-key (Imagine clean.)

Good value (Think bargain.)

Lovingly maintained (I’ll save money on repairs.)

Beautiful landscaping (Fires imagination)

Some kiss-of-death language:

Desperate, Motivated, and Must Sell (Try “all offers considered” instead)



Income producing or Rentals

Small (Try cozy)

Near a bus line or train? (Easy commute is smarter)

Ehsan Nikbakht, a professor of finance at the Frank G. Zarb School of Business at Hofstra University, says the research makes sense -- especially in today’s buyer’s market.

"It’s connected to behavior finance and prospect theory, which says that the way things are presented -- houses, products, ideas -- will impact how people react and the price they’ll be willing to pay,” he says.

Nikbakht adds that it’s no secret that human beings react to words, and any edge that a seller can gain -- starting with the house ad -- is key. “As is,” for example, is a turn-off "because it signals to the buyer that something is wrong and that there’s no room for negotiation, even if the seller meant something else. It’s the seller’s job to make the buyer more comfortable, appeal to his needs, emotions, and his wallet.”

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