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Study Shows the Right Words Can Strengthen Your Real Estate Listings

How important are the descriptive terms used in your real estate listings? Beautiful, move-in ready, charming … they’re all the same, right?

Maybe not. A study conducted by real estate economist Paul Anglin found that homes described as “beautiful” sell for 5 percent more than the average home. But listing a home as a “good value” may result in a 5 percent discount.

Conducted between 1997 and 2000, Anglin’s study is still the only one of its kind. Anglin and his colleagues at the University of Windsor analyzed more than 20,000 real estate listings to determine the effects of a listing’s wording and phrases on sale prices and market time.

The study doesn’t aim to prove that listing phrases are entirely responsible for market time or sales prices, but the results are still quite thought-provoking. Let’s take a closer look:

Term Effect on time until sale Effect on list price Effect on selling price
Beautiful -15% +5% +5%
Move-in condition -12% Insignificant Insignificant
Good value -5% -6% -5%
Must see Insignificant +4% Insignificant
Starter home -9% -10% -10%
Motivated +30% -6% -8%
Landscaping -20% +5% +6%

What words will speed your sale?

The quickest way to sell a home? Just add “beautiful.” Stir until sold.

OK, so it has to be an authentic “beautiful.” Buyers know the difference between a gorgeous home and a ramshackle fixer-upper. But according to Anglin’s study, “beautiful” cuts market time by 15 percent.

Another desirable quality? Landscaping. Real estate listings that mention “landscaping” sell 20 percent faster than the average home. Words like “beautiful” and “landscaping” can evoke an emotional response from buyers, which may explain their effect on listing times.

“Starter home” is another phrase that can speed a sale. Anglin explains that inexpensive homes often have more competition, so a phrase like “starter home” appeals to a wider audience. “Starter home” listings sold 9 percent faster than the average home.

Which words also have a positive impact on selling price?

“Beautiful” and “landscaping” can also boost the final sales price of a property. Anglin’s study found that both “beautiful” and “landscaping” raise a sales price by 5 percent over the average home.

Homes labeled as “must see” also command higher prices. “Must see” properties sell at an average of 4 percent more than similar homes.

What should you avoid?

Terms of desperation seem to send buyers away in droves. “Motivated” and “must sell” both increase market time by 30 percent. "Motivated” sellers also lose out on the profit end, as their listings sell at 8 percent less than the average home.

Importance of being honest in your listings

Experienced agents know to take these findings with a grain of salt. Simply adding “beautiful” to a listing is not going to spur an immediate sale at an impressive price. Wording must be taken into account with numerous other factors, from an appropriate listing price to market conditions to the qualities of the home itself.

Anglin summarizes his findings with fitting restraint:

“In general, vendors have two ways to influence the selling process. First, they can provide an enticing, while accurate, description of the house…Second, a vendor helps set the price at which the home is listed…The single most important message that a seller can send to a buyer is their choice of list price.”

Still, wording does have its function, and using targeted terms may entice the right buyer to consider one of your properties.

And in today’s market, it’s worth a shot, right?

About Our Editorial Process

Veterans United is recognized as the leading VA lender in the nation, unmatched in our specialization and expertise in VA loans. Our strict adherence to accuracy and the highest editorial standards guarantees our information is based on thoroughly vetted, unbiased research. Committed to excellence, we offer guidance to our nation's Veterans, ensuring their homebuying experience is informed, seamless and secured with integrity.

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