Sellers: Mind your language!

Many jokes do the rounds about what the jargon in real estate advertising really means. But a Canadian study has now shown that the choice of words in an ad really does influence selling price as well as the time it takes to sell a property.

Quoted in the Chas Everitt International newsletter Property Signposts, the research was conducted by Professor Paul Anglin of the University of Guelph in Ontario, who studied the response to about 20 000 listings over a period of three years.

He found that if you want to cut selling time in half (compared to the average for your area), you should have your agent advertise your property as a "handyman's special" - the downside being that you can then expect the selling price to be around 30 percent lower than the area average.

On the other hand, the term "beautiful" in ads reduces selling time by an average of 15 percent, while increasing the selling price by around five percent - provided that the advertised property comes up to scratch and really deserves the description.

Surprisingly, the term "landscaping" has the best overall effect: Selling time is reduced by 20 percent and selling price increased by six percent.

Chas Everitt International MD Berry Everitt says the survey also shows that if you advertise your property as "good value", sellers will take you at your word. The description shaves five percent off the average selling time, in return for five percent off the average selling price.

Buyers also like homes in "move-in condition", which sell 12 percent faster, and "starter homes", which sell nine percent faster.

"They don't, however, respond sympathetically to emotional appeals such as the fact that the owner is moving, and if you state you are 'motivated to sell' you can expect your property to actually stay on the market up to 30 percent longer than average, while the selling price drops by eight percent."

According to the survey, homes described as "vacant" or available for "immediate occupation" also sell at eight percent less than the average and the words "rental property" add a whopping 60 percent to the sale time while taking nine percent off the average price.

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