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Real Estate Sales Descriptions

I remember reading a book about the selling of the American West called Badlands by Jonathan Raban. In the early stages of the United States, when the West was the Wild West, people didn’t want to leave the comforts of the East coast for the wilderness and the unknown – there was no security in moving out to a place that was undeveloped and mysterious. What or where was the incentive?

The Montana prairie, called "The Great American Desert" until Congress offered 320-acre tracts of barren land to immigrants with stardust in their eyes.

So there was a big advertising push to sell the West. There were a ton of benefits to moving West: the fertility of the land, the wide-open spaces, the beauty, and the possibilities for great wealth, there was hope out there.

But they used phrases and specific words to sell the West. Secure. Opportunity. Freedom. Open. There’s as much land to cultivate and tend to that you could desire. Help grow and expand the country that you love. A patriotic reason. Discounts were offered to move, acres of land for cheap. But in a round about way this gets us back to the use of language and the words used to sell homes. There’s a story behind every advertisement of course.

Freakonomics has is a section about the ‘words’ agents choose to sell property in a sales ad. Certain words are a signal to the potential buyer to bid at a certain price.

Five terms correlated to higher sale price:

  • Granite
  • State-of-the-art
  • Corian
  • Maple
  • Gourmet

Five terms correlated to a lower sale price:

  • Fantastic
  • Spacious
  • !
  • Charming
  • Great neighborhood

Three of the words in the first set are physical descriptive terms, straightforward; while the terms in the second set are more ambiguous or don’t have a quality that stands out or is unique.

There’s a Mad Men like purpose of selling as always, different parties want different things and try to influence people to buy for their own reasons.

The owner wants to sell high. The buyer want to buy low. The agent wants to meet somewhere in the middle. Who is going to get what they want?

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