7 Cringeworthy Phrases You Should Never EVER Use When Describing A Home You Are Selling

Dated: 05/21/2019

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I cringe every time I see these phrases used to describe a home someone is trying to sell, yet I still come across at least one (usually more than one) of these every day when surfing through new listings. Surprise, surprise, the homes that use these terms in their description often sit on the market for a VERY long time. Even some of the most experienced agents let them slip into their listing descriptions now and then - either accidentally or out of sheer lack of realization as to what these phrases conjure in the minds of potential buyers. There are a great deal of psychological aspects to consider when writing a home description and, according to expert researchers, most homeowners (and even Realtors) get it wrong. If you think you don’t have to worry because you have your home listed with a professional Real Estate Agent who should know what to write to get your property sold, think again. An in-depth university research study conducted in 2018 analyzed thousands of MLS real estate descriptions and found that nearly 80% of the write-ups of homes that sat on the market longer than 90 days used phrases and/or sentence constructions that detracted from the home’s features and had a negative impact on prospective buyers. Below are the top seven phrases you should NEVER use to describe a home you are selling and why.

  1. “Beautifully maintained” or “Well maintained home”
    Sounds perfectly acceptable, right? WRONG – this instantly translates to “old and outdated” in a potential buyer’s mind. Instead change this phrase to something like “Beautiful home in pristine condition…” or simply say, “Spotless home.”

  2. “Quaint” or “Cozy”
    People have been using “quaint” and “cozy” to describe properties or aspects of a home (i.e. - “quaint backyard” or “cozy kitchen”) for years and I still can’t figure out why. Quaint and Cozy mean just one thing – TEENY TINY!! Any experienced home buyer knows that when they see “quaint backyard” it means you can probably see clearly into the neighbor’s bathroom (and vice verse 😉 ) and a “cozy kitchen” means you can’t open the oven and fridge at the same time. Instead of “quaint home” or “cozy kitchen” use the terms “charming bungalow” or “conveniently appointed kitchen” – hey, the kitchen may be TINY in reality but instead of pointing this out with the word “cozy” make the potential buyer realize how convenient and efficient it is that you can stir a pot on the stove with one hand and reach into the sink or fridge with the other.

  3. “Family-Friendly Home” / “Great neighborhood for kids”
    Before we even get into how these phrases are potential Fair Housing violations that open you and/or your agent to potential lawsuits, lets talk about why these terms aren’t doing your property any favors. These phrases immediately turn off any buyers who don’t have children – you just effectively (and unnecessarily) eliminated valid potential buyers from your pool. Is it a great neighborhood for kids because it’s crawling with noisy children? This is what a buyer not particularly fond of kids will likely think - not a positive to a couple who doesn’t plan on having kids but plan to purchase a home with more than one bedroom. Above all, writing a home sale description that particularly targets or discriminates against a specific demographic or familial status (in this case people with or without children) is a BIG no-no in the housing market. We don’t even have any rewording suggestions for these – in short, DON’T USE THESE PHRASES or anything similar. Ever. Period.

  4. “Needs TLC” / “Handyman special” / “Calling All Investors”
    So the house isn’t in the greatest shape, we get it, but you don’t have to blatantly advertise this up front. Think of your sale description as a first date – would you mention your Irritable Bowl Syndrome on a first date, or kick off the conversation by going through a list of all your creepy OCD habits? No, at least let the person get to know you a bit and realize all your positive aspects before coming clean with your flaws, then they can decide their next move once they have all the facts – they may pleasantly surprise you. We aren’t saying lie about the condition of the home, but just like most people don’t propose marriage on a first date, most buyers don’t put an offer on a home after reading the description. You can mention the not-so-great aspects of the property later on when they come see your home in person, or not at all as you’re not required to point out the home needs work (unless it’s a structural or significant mechanical flaw) and let the buyer judge for themselves how much sweat equity is needed and if they’re willing to tackle it – even if they don’t consider themselves a handyman or investor. Focus on the positives in your description.

  5. “Motivated seller!”
    This is pretty much short for – “I’m desperate, please send me low-ball offers!” First of all – EVERY seller is motivated – people don’t tend to list their house for sale because they have nothing better to do that weekend, so all sellers are motivated to sell. If you are using up the valuable space you have in a limited word description to put “MOTIVATED SELLER!” you’re basically telling potential buyers two things: 1) “I have little to say about my house but want you to know I’m desperate to get rid of it.” And 2) “Please send me low-ball offers." Worse yet, you’ll likely get less or even NO offers because people will just sit back and wait for you to start reducing the price because, as you already informed them, you’re desperate. Did I mention this makes you sound desperate?? Instead of saying motivated seller and begging people to send you offers, it’s better to try and use tactics to build a sense of urgency around your property that makes people think they NEED to hurry if they want a shot at buying your house. Perhaps say something like, “Submit your highest and best offer by Friday, May 31st – seller will review all offers that weekend.”

  6. “Easy freeway access” / “Close to highway"
    In other words, a six-lane interstate runs right through your backyard. No, not really? Well that’s what buyers are going to think anyway, so best to avoid these phrases altogether. Say something more general and along the lines of “conveniently located.”

  7. “So much potential!” / “A diamond in the rough”
    This is short for: “This house is a piece of crap, but if you have an endless supply of cash and free time you MAY be able to transform it into something other than a steaming pile of sh*t – but no promises." A better alternative is saying something like, “Room to grow…”or “Endless opportunity to make this your ultimate dream home!”

If any of these phrases/words are used in your home’s description be sure you swap them out for one of the more positive phrasing suggestions mentioned above. If your home is listed with an agent and he/she used any of these negative wordings in your home’s description be sure to bring your concerns to their attention. Happy selling!

Amanda Matti
Marketing Director
Matti Realty Group

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Fadi Matti

Fadi Matti is a full time real estate professional with the skills and experience to handle the most sensitive real estate matters. Whether you're buying or selling, his superior work ethic, coupled w....

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Read More