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By Pam Leibfried
When you’re preparing to sell your home and are looking for professional help, Virginia real estate agent Ron Kowaski advises that you “make sure to take a long look at [agents’] listings. Search for any obvious typos – and look for stunning photos.”1
A recent study about real estate listings conducted by Redfin and Grammarly supports Kowaski’s advice. The survey respondents ranked photos as being the most important factor when reviewing a real estate listing. So if you’re selling, make sure that your listing photos show a clean, uncluttered and well-lit home, highlighting key selling points. The vast majority of the respondents – 87% of those surveyed – also ranked the listing description as being “very important” or ”extremely important.”2 But just what do people look for in a listing description?
50 words is the sweet spot
The Redfin and Grammarly survey showed that consumers prefer medium-sized listings of around 50 words, which they termed “the sweet spot” for listing length. And Redfin’s home sales data backs up the survey responses. Redfin analyzed their real estate sales data by listing length and found that “homes with descriptions of that length are more likely to sell within 90 days and are more likely to sell for higher than list price.”
Errors can derail your sale
Among the survey participants, 43% said they would be less inclined to look at a home for sale if the listing contained errors. This doesn’t mean that 43% of consumers are grammar sticklers, but it reflects assumptions that potential buyers and their real estate agents make as they read a listing. They may look at an error-laden listing and wonder if the seller was equally sloppy in maintaining the home, or they may think that the selling agent is disorganized, potentially making the purchase more stressful.
New York real estate broker Mickey Conlon explained it this way when speaking to the Wall Street Journal: “You can get a sense of what the transaction will be like based on the listing description. If it’s exceptionally sloppy, then it’s a warning sign of a potentially sloppy transaction.”3
Capitalization and abbreviations matter, too
Survey respondents didn’t like listings in ALL CAPS, and here again, Redfin’s data backed up the survey results. The study also found that potential buyers are sometimes confused by non-standard abbreviations. Although using abbreviations in listings is necessary due to space limitations, be sure that the meaning remains clear. Most readers would recognize “3BR, 2BTH” as indicating that a home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. However, it’s possible that potential buyers would not understand “FLR & FDR” as indicating that a home has both a formal living room and a formal dining room.
A Google search on “real estate typos” gets over half a million results (see below for some of the best of the worst). As a seller, you need to make sure that more than one set of eyes reviews your listing before publication to avoid embarrassing errors that will land it on a future real estate typo list. If your agent writes the description, carefully review the listing for him or her prior to publication, checking for accuracy and looking for typing or spelling errors.
If you are not good at proofreading, ask a friend to review it for you. Most of us have at least one friend who notices typos on menus or posts about your/you’re and their/they’re errors on social media sites. Take advantage of their skills by asking them to review your listing. If you’re concerned that an abbreviation used in your listing may confuse readers, get the opinion of a friend who has recently house-hunted.
A Google search on “real estate typos” gets over a half million results. Some are a bit embarrassing, some are truly cringe worthy and some are just very, very funny. Check out some of our favorites: