10 property listing cliches and why you need to avoid them

My best friend is selling her property and, needless to say, it’s a bit of a stressful process. 

Over the weekend she was agonising over the listing copy and, it’s safe to say, she found a few ‘mistakes’.

Apart from the fact the agents got the age of the house and a few other things wrong, it was full of cliches, not least of which was saying it was a “one-of-a-kind” property. 

When there’s two other very similar homes on the market in her street. 

But, it got me thinking about all of the cliches in listing description copy and, given the fact that I once used to write copy for about 30 properties a week, I thought I’d share with you some pet hates.

Here are 10 listing copy cliches, what they really say to potential buyers and what you can write instead.

1. Hidden gem

Just how hidden is the home? Do you have a 5km trek from the main road and through dense bushland to reach the front door?

If you’re selling a period home that’s on the market for the first time then you might be justified in using the term ‘hidden gem’. If not, it’s not hidden – it’s on the market and it’s been there before. 

What to write instead

Talk about the home’s unique features, describe them and explain why they aren’t often available. 

2. One-of-a-kind

This is a big sweeping statement and in most cases it’s not true. Particularly with today’s penchant for cookie-cutter, off-the-plan display homes, it’s unlikely you’re selling a home that’s truly one-of-a-kind. 

What to write instead

It’s important that you don’t over inflate your listing descriptions too much. Instead, highlight the type of buyer the property would appeal to most. 

3. Quaint

Sure, quaint can be used to describe a cute country cottage, but it is also used to describe a small and pokey home or one that needs a bit of work. Buyers will be sceptical.

What to write instead

If you’re using quaint to describe the lovely period features of the home, just include the features instead – no one will be upset about you listing the polished floorboards or decorative cornices. If you were using quaint to get around the fact the home is small or needs renovating, you could say there’s plenty of space to extend or scope to improve the property. 

4. Natural landscaping or mature garden

To a buyer this immediately says the garden is overgrown and you’ll need to bring a chainsaw to get through it. 

What to write instead

Reveal that the garden is landscaped and has been planted over several decades, including several native species of plants. 

5. Must be seen to be appreciated

Hmmm so the property is either absolutely incredible with too many features to photograph or it’s derelict and you only took three photos because you’re worried you’ll scare buyers away.

What to write instead

Be honest. If it’s a renovation project, say so. Tell buyers to bring their tool belts or get the opinion of their best mate, who just happens to be a builder. If it’s amazing, say they’ll need extra time to inspect this home, it’s so packed with features.

6. The vendor says sell

You’re kidding?!! And here the buyers were thinking you’d snuck the property onto the portals in secret. All jokes aside, this phrase also sounds a lot like ‘you can give us a low-ball offer’ to buyers.

What to write instead

Try and strike a better balance between urgency and value. You might say the vendor will accept offers or is keen to move forward with selling. Describe the vendor’s motivation without implying that any offer, no matter how low, will be entertained.

7. A decorator’s touch

Really? Did a professional interior decorator design the fittings, fixtures and furnishings in the home? Or has the owner just slapped some burgundy paint on a ‘feature wall’ 10 years ago?

What to write instead

If the interiors really have been professionally done then use this phrase and even name the designer/decorator. If it’s a poor DIY job that’s now really outdated, maybe don’t write anything.

8. Updated

If a property really does have an updated kitchen from the past five years then include it. If it’s a kitchen that was updated in the ‘80s then it’s outdated!

What to write instead

If the property isn’t truly updated, focus on the fact it’s still fully functional, has lots of storage space or the fact that the oven is, in fact, newly installed. 

9. Needs a bit of TLC

When buyers read this they immediately contend that the house is a knock-down rebuild, even if it’s not. So, unless the property is a ‘renovator’s delight’ (sorry, couldn’t help myself!) don’t use this phrase.

What to write instead

Be realistic about how much work needs doing. You might write that the property needs an overhaul or, if all of the big stuff like rewiring or new plumbing has been done, include that and reveal cosmetic work still needs to be completed.

10. Boasts

A property doesn’t ‘speak’ so it cannot boast about anything. 

What to write instead

Pretty please, just use the word ‘has’.

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