Commonly used Real Estate sales clichés? Why use them?

Asked by Mike, 33040 Fri Jan 4, 2008

Since I am looking to buy in the next 6 months I have been surfing the MLS. I see quite a bit of different wording when it comes to the blurb written to sell the house. The phrase "Priced to sell" does two things to me:

A- It annoys me... and makes me think the listing agent thinks I cant spot a good deal when I see it.

B-Confuses me makes me think the agent doesn't know their market enough esp. when comps are going for 25% less

-Priced to sell- Why would someone have to tell me a home is priced to sell... wouldnt I realize that by the actual home price being so cheap I just want to go out and buy it?
Or
-Does "priced to sell" really mean the real estate agent thinks the homeowner is being unrealistic about their choice in pricing and is just saying this in the hopes that a buyer will come along and actually think... Wow this house is really priced to sell!

Sorry about this rant, can anyone shed some light onto this?
Thanks, Mike

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25
Carl Johnson, , Amherst, NH
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Mike,
Your observations about using cliches or "agent" terminology raises a valid point. Agents need to be careful about using terms that are not well understood by the people who buy homes. Words like "Listing" or "MLS" "List Price", "Closed" , DOM" etc. are often used and understood by agents but not the general public. To further confuse things we are often guilty of using abbreviations such as MBR for master bedroom, FP fireplace, HW hardwood etc. This makes for prose that is not very readable by the home buyer.

The problem stems from the fact that the property descriptions that you see on the internet are coming from the Multiple listing service which was historically a database of homes for sale that was only used by real estate agents. It used to be a very closed system so using industry jargon was OK. But now the information in the Multiple listing service is being distributed to the public. This has only been happening on a large scale over the past 4 or 5 years. I have noticed that the descriptions used are much more readable today than just a few years ago.

Agents know that there are certain phrases that agents and buyers use to search for property. Terms such as "Handy man" if someone is looking for a distressed property are still widely used. "Priced to sell" and Priced below market" are others that are commonly used. Again some of these terms are throwbacks to when the Multiple listing service was for agents. But they still can have meaning today.

Don't take offense to some of these phrases, as agents are trying to attract attention to a specific property. That is their job. You are correct, ultimately the buyer will decide if it is really priced right and is worth the price being asked. Additionally, everyone will value a specific property differently. A property that you think is way over priced may be well priced to me because I will assign different value to specific feature of a home. An example, You may want a home with a built in swimming pool and and you may be will to pay the list price to get it. I may look at the same home and think it is way over priced because I will put 0 value to a pool, it is not a feature I am interested in.

The bottom line is that real estate market and the "MLS" is no longer closed and isolated to agents and the information is being distributed all over the internet. The way that properties are marketed and described need to change based on this "new" broader market. Your observation about terminology used should be carefully considered by us agents.

Thanks for the reminder that we are communicating to "BUYERS"!
6 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Hi,

First, I want to thank you for taking the time to write this post and explain how this (and other cliche phrases) impact you. I think the communication is beneficial to all sellers/buyers and Realtors. I will explain to you why I think this phrase (and others) are used. If you can come back and comment further, with any alternative suggestions, I would appreciate it. That sentiment of appreciation probably runs true for many RE Pros here on Trulia.

Real estate property listings appear on MLS systems, and a multitude of other sites, such as Trulia. On the search results page of most systems, the returned info generally presents one picture, and a sentence or two at most about the property. RE Pros are typically using the phrase, “Price to Sell” as a headline type of communication that will quickly tell a prospective buyer that it is worthwhile for them to click through from a search result page to learn more about the features and benefits of this property.

I fully acknowledge that you, and most buyers, are savvy, and will determine if there is or is not value upon viewing the property. In once sentence or two, and one picture, on a search results page, I need for the buyer to want to learn more, read more, view more pictures, etc. When the buyer arrives at a page with more detail, then I can show multiple pictures, videos, virtual tours, and define features.

On most MLS systems (there are several hundred), the text field is usually very limited. RE Pros have for years, needed to communicate with acronyms, abbreviations and jargon. This rings true because of MLS limited space and also because newspaper classified advertising rates are so expensive, and newspapers were for so long, a primary vehicle.

Some sellers, in a search for an “economy” listing will choose a lower commission fee and opt for representation and a marketing package that does not include as much detail on the listing. The RE Pro who posts this type of bare bones listing might need to more heavily rely upon only tag lines. My 2 cent opinion as a side note: I respect every sellers right to choose from a wide array of services and fee structures ranging from bare bones to full service. I believe that fees should be aligned with the services and representation delivered.

As an experienced Realtor, I have viewed properties via MLS listings and found when I visited the property, it can be substantially disappointing or it can go the other way and offer way more than was communicated in the listing. Therefore, I think the “price to sell” phrase is geared just as much to Realtors as it is to the public. The cliche, “Must see to appreciate” is another that might fall into the same category.

On full detail listing sheets, I do closely replicate the same text as it appears on the MLS or wherever else in brief form. I do this to maintain consistency, and so it is easier for buyers to identify as the same property that may have noticed before.

I do so much hope that you come back and post further. Again, I reiterate that your viewpoints are important and your communication can help us do our jobs better, and in turn, service the interests of the public better. Any comments or suggestions that you can make?

Regards,
Deborah Madey - Broker
Peninsula Realty Group
New Jersey
4 votes
Kerrin Koste…, Agent, Gulf Breeze, FL
Fri Jan 4, 2008
I wonder about these signs, myself, to be honest. My favorite, though, is the "Just Reduced" sign that many use. It is an admission by the agent and seller that they didn't know enough to price it right within the market to begin with.

It also makes me grin when I see a sign post with 3-5 sign riders with these annoying remarks "Price Reduced", "Motivated Seller", "Must See Inside", "Seller pays 1% Closing Costs", etc. It just reeks of desperation.

I have to admit that I have used them myself on occasion; but ONLY when the Seller requests it! (smile)
3 votes
Mark Bartlett, Both Buyer And Seller, 33050
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Mike-
I agree with your perception of "Priced to Sell" I'm sure at one time it was a flag to agents looking for undervalued properties, today I think it has gone the way of "New and Improved". Every product on the supermarket shelf is new and improved but the consumer looks past it and it is ignored. To me, it simply says the agent is filling out the MLS form and lacks creativity. I wish more agents would look to their seller's input into the description of the property. The seller knows the property (good & bad) and knows what drew them to purchase it.
If i never see "cozy"= tiny, or a little "TLC"=dump that will be fine with me.
3 votes
CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Fri Jan 4, 2008
I am surprised no one has mentioned the "Honey! Stop the Car!" sign.
We all use different ways to draw attention to our listings. I find the best way is massive internet advertising, lots of pictures, and a good price.

CJ
2 votes
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Mike, why do you think real estate as an industry is not susceptible to advertising hyperbole? I'm sorry it annoys you but geez; if you post this much over such a hackneyed phrase then I don't know how you get through an hour of television or radio. Are you totally media deprived?
I'm surprised you've just lighted on this phrase. I see many more which are MUCH more irritating. The classic to me is TLC. If there is three letters of the alphabet more abused I don't know which! Tender Loving Care in many cases means "Tear Down, Level, and condemn!!" or "To Lie Consistently" or "Tort Litigation Construction"!!!
Or the other classic, "Show and Sell"!! This usually follows, "Easy care yard" which always means red rock in the front yard surrounded by Juniper bushes!! Or "Mrs. Clean" lives here! Yes, she gargles with Lysol in the morning!
I think the biggest offenders of late are mortgage brokers trying to put some positive spin on the markets. We have one guy here in Northern California who got on the air the other day and stated the interest rates have been "Blown through the floor!" I can only determine the guy is very height challenged!! :-P
2 votes
Damion Boyce,…, Agent, Lakeland, FL
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Mike,

Agents that use this terminology are excited about their new listing and are convinced that the home is priced right because the price is much lower than the seller wanted. Also, if this agent had 50 listings, I don't think the agent would use this lingo. As you know it is just to draw attention to the listing. Agents should consider getting creative or using a price per square foot figure in their descriptions. In my area, investors are looking for a particular price per square foot for starters.
2 votes
Mark Bartlett, Both Buyer And Seller, 33050
Sat Jan 5, 2008
Ten to one , Dollars to donuts, if you’ve told your agent once, you’ve told them a million times “Don’t use clichés”. “But they respond everyone else is doing it”. Just because they jump off a bridge , does that mean you are going to do it? They’ll learn PDQ not to use Cliches but substitute them with acronyms ASAP.
Straight from the horses mouth, you need to explain the use of clichés and acronyms “just don’t cut it”.
If they don't "toe the line" you'll "pull the rufg out from under them" and you won't be wanting to hear them "crying over spilt milk!"
1 vote
David Green, Agent, Cape May, NJ
Sat Jan 5, 2008
It boils down to sales and marketing 101. About 50 years ago the geniuses of Madison Avenue sat down 100 people in a room with electrodes on their heads and randomly flashed sign riders in front of them and recorded which ones made their eye twitch or their mouth water. it was found the words " priced to sell" registered a blank look but a curiosity to see what happened next.

Yeah that's it , I saw it on Discovery
1 vote
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Sat Jan 5, 2008
A couple of random observations:

Mike, leaving aside your annoyance with the cliche, it's interesting that one interpretation might actually be that the property is overpriced. I understand your logic. But I suspect a lot of buyers aren't as sophisticated. Consider: "Priced to sell! $20,000 under assessment!" Assessments mean nothing--didn't mean anything even in the past hot market--but some buyers lap it up. And most people want "a deal," but don't have the information necessary to determine whether it's really a good deal or not.

Another random thought: You wrote: "Imagine going to your local Lexus dealer (or any higher end car dealer for that matter.) You walk in the door and see a $65K convertible. The sales manager walks up and you ask "can you tell me what you think is the most important feature of this car"... what would you say if that person told you... "Thats easy... its priced to sell."

True enough. But consider: If you went up to a homeowner and asked, "What makes this house so desirable?" A lot will answer with: "Great neighborhood. Friendly neighbors. It's safe. My kids can walk to school. You don't have a lot of people tearing through here on motorcycles." Hmmm. Agents really can't put much or any of that into the listing. You can read all the postings--the questions about what's the best neighborhood for a family in Dallas, or the best community to raise kids in Los Angeles, or whatever. Buyers care about that, but agents can't comment on those things. So they're somewhat restricted on what they can promote.

Using your car analogy, the salesperson is likely to say, "It can seat 5 comfortably" or "It gets 30 mpg" or "It goes from 0 to 60 in 5.2 seconds," or "It's won the Motor Trend Car of the Year Award for the past 3 years." Depends on what the car's being marketed as. Well, in a real estate listing, all of these are already covered in the data sections. "Seats 5 comfortably" equates to "4 beds, 3 baths, 2,600 square feet." And so on. They're facts and figures. But keep in mind that even with cars, people are looking for value: "Best selling 4-door compact under $20,000" or "Best selling SUV under $35,000."

One thing car dealers are especially good at is selling on emotion. Many people aren't just buying transportation; they're buying a statement of who they are. And that's the trend behind the McMansions, and the installation of granite countertops and stainless steel appliances even in dumpy little condos and capes. Car dealers are also good at "lemming sales": Everyone else is doing it, so you should be part of the crowd, too. "Best selling car..." and "Flying off the lot." Cliches, of course, but they work. And agents try to do this too: "Won't last long!"

So, I think there are multiple problems. There are certain formulas that "work," though they're old and cliche-ridden. And many real estate agents just "go with the flow." On top of that, there are limitations on what agents can actually say to sell a property, so their collection of catch lines and pitches is somewhat more limited than it might first appear.

That's my two cents....
1 vote
Mike, , 33040
Sat Jan 5, 2008
"Mike, why do you think real estate as an industry is not susceptible to advertising hyperbole? I'm sorry it annoys you but geez; if you post this much over such a hackneyed phrase then I don't know how you get through an hour of television or radio. Are you totally media deprived?"

tv and radio... I'd hardly liken selling a home to a comercial on tv or the radio for alka seltzer or car insurance -

Now in response, I think some people based on their market have gotten a little too comfortable with quickly moving the inventory. I have seen plenty of cliches out there but "Priced to sell" is just the one that rubs me the wrong way. Nothing more to it.

Imagine going to your local Lexus dealer (or any higher end car dealer for that matter.) You walk in the door and see a $65K convertible. The sales manager walks up and you ask "can you tell me what you think is the most important feature of this car"... what would you say if that person told you... "Thats easy... its priced to sell."

I think any agent who goes that extra step to aggressively sell or help me buy earns my respect and trust because it is a business transaction afterall and I'd rather deal with someone who wants to earn that commission... vs. let it fall into their lap.
1 vote
Mike, , 33040
Sat Jan 5, 2008
Thanks for all the great responses. I don't think I personally represent the majority of home buyers out there in the past 5 or so years... or maybe I am part of the next round of homebuyers that will have to be dealt with in the months to come. Now that the pre-credit crunch days of homesales where sellers were getting more than the asking price are gone. It does seem though the agents who are swimming versus sinking are going the extra mile in all aspects of the process.

Things I find helpful are:

Seeing not 3 homepics but 10 or more (even a virtual tour) attached to the listing.
Cliches are fine but a detailed description is much more appreciated.
I have seen some brokers use the space for an addendum or extra docs to write up an extra detailed blurb about the home they are selling.
1 vote
Sara, , Alvin, TX
Fri Jan 4, 2008
I wonder how much of this could be the seller's fault? Perhaps Realtors are putting such terminology on the description to please the sellers? I've written real estate and adveristing copy in the past and in my experience, people LOVE to use cliches. They think it sounds more professional.
1 vote
Troy S. Hens…, , 33040
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Mike,

I can definately relate to what you are saying. I think the first thing to keep in mind is that not everyone is you. Realtors are marketing to the public as a whole and people being different, not everyone can make that realization. Being the person that you are, I can deffinately see where you are coming from. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Realtors out there that are part time and have less experience than people like yourself. They might have been correct when they placed the ad, but over time didn't keep track of the market and the market lowered. Now there ad is no longer correct. That is a shame. As far as the last statement, there are a lot of Realtor that havent sold much over the last two months and they aren't able to get the sellers to list at the correct market value price. Rather than refuse to take the listing they figure I'll take the listing anyway and who knows, maybe I'll find someone that just has to have this particular property. What they don't realize is that then they should be spending the same amount of advertising money on it even though it is overpriced, and they eventually run out of money to run their business because none of their listing are selling. Only time will take care of this problem. Always happy to share my thoughts. Have a great day.
1 vote
Jim Walker, Agent, Carmichael, CA
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Location, Location, Location: is another groaner.

That means that the place is smaller and / or in worse condition than its better neighbors, but the owner is asking as much as the neighbors home is worth.
1 vote
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Fri Jan 4, 2008
CJ--I have not yet touched the Sign riders!! But yes, that's right up there in the hackneyed rankings!! I agree with you but start AT "Good Price" and find that takes care of all sorts of issues!!!
1 vote
CJ Brasiel, Agent, San Jose, CA
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Mike
I also go crazy when I see "PRICED TO SELL". I have been soooo tempted to make a sign "PRICED NOT TO SELL" just to make myself laugh. Thanks for the post. A good laugh for the week.

CJ
1 vote
Ruthless, , 60558
Fri Jan 4, 2008
Mike - Welcome!
I'm going to enjoy you. I just read one of your other posts and then this one. I've done my fair share of ranting here as well and agents and consumers alike have learned greatly from it. One of those rants got out of hand and I had to delete it, but here are a few posts you might be interested in. I would love your comments on them as well.

http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Selling/What_is_discrimina…
http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/Where_is_Springfiel…
http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Buying/Why_do_REOs_and_As_…
http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Selling/What_priority_do_y…
http://www.trulia.com/voices/Home_Selling/Value_of_an_apprai…

Now that my house is back on the market after the contract fell through, I'll have to go and delete some more of my posts. I thought you might want to peak before that happens.

Again, welcome!
Ruth
1 vote
Rudy Bachraty, , Fort Collins, CO
Fri Jan 4, 2008
hi mike!

i agree with you. in fact i even wrote a post about it.

http://www.kioskrealty.com/2007/10/18/priced-to-sit/
1 vote
Djrobsd, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Tue Jul 19, 2016
As a buyer, personally I think that the text is useless. It's all about pictures. If your pictures don't sell the property to me, the text is worthless. Now, sometimes the text is good for clarifying things that aren't visible in photos like "does it have air conditioning" or "how many bathrooms does it have" but typically those things are in the listing fields anyway, and don't need to be in the description. That's just me, I'm the ipad, smart phone, tech savvy driven generation buyer who is super busy and has a very small attention span, so the only time I read the text is after I've eliminated all the properties my agent sends me that I'm not interested in, I might go back and give the ones I saved a second look and read some more description about the house. :) Things like "Walk to Target, Vons, Starbucks and the gym" are much more valuable in the text then "HONEY STOP THE CAR" or "DONT MISS THIS ONE". :)
0 votes
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sun Jan 6, 2008
Mark gets my "Best Answer"! He cut to the chase, called a spade a spade and didn't fiddle futz around!! Enjoy!! LOL!!
0 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sat Jan 5, 2008
David Green gets Best Answer! :-)
0 votes
Lorie Gould, Agent, Duluth, GA
Sat Jan 5, 2008
Michael... thanks for the laugh.

Don... I enjoyed your book:) and tend to write a few myself.

Mike...you brought up a great question which brought about a great discussion.

I do not personally use any abbreviations in my comment section because I do not feel like the average consumer can understand the abbreviations. The space is limited but I want it to entice a buyer to want to see the home or atleast email for additional information. If the buyer cannot understand the comment section because of all the abbreviations or are annoyed by stupid cliches then they are not likely to want more.

I look at the comments as lingerie...it is to intrigue and make the buyer want more.

As for priced to sell... it should only be used if the property is priced below comparable properties. It appears from your post that it is used and abused. I will personally never use it again not that I have used it often because I do not always have the lowest price home. Deborah and Carl has some great responses to this also. We are so very limited that we have to be creative and provide a one two punch.

Lastly, I agree that agents do need to be more original to separate themselves and their listings from the competition.
0 votes
Mike Kelly A…, Agent, Santa Rosa, CA
Sat Jan 5, 2008
Two cents? That's more like a buck ninety-eight!!
0 votes
Deborah Madey, Agent, Brick, NJ
Sat Jan 5, 2008
Hi Mike,

Thanks for coming back and posting. Just as an explanation regarding MLS rules. Many MLSs (ours included) will NOT allow us to reference another website or addendum for additional info in the public remarks. We can put that link in the agent notes. But, that won't have the link or addendum appear on the internet. I absolutely hear and agree w/ you on everything you said. The listing sites, Trulia for example, definitely allow for this addendum, or link, and we include links to single property sites when we have them, tours, etc.

Thanks again for your feedback.

Regards
Deborah
0 votes
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