The most common words found in American real estate listings

A new analysis looks at the 100 most common words found in American real estate listings with “beautiful” sitting at #1:

Point2Homes, which provides marketing services to real estate agents, ran the numbers on 300,000 active listings in the United States in the first half of 2012 to see which household features and characteristics were thought by their listing agents to attract buyer interest. Though such chestnuts as “must see” and “spacious” pervade the listing verbiage, it was interesting to note which other specifics appear to merit singling out, according to Roxana Baiceanu, a spokesman for the company…

But she said the analysts were a bit surprised to see the emphasis on such specifics as hardwood floors and stainless steel, which placed second and third, respectively, on the overall frequency list.

In all, the top 100 terms aren’t particularly surprising — nearly every listing in the history of American real estate would have you believe that there’s no such thing as an unappealing home. That list includes such predictables as “stunning,” “sunny,” “finest,” “perfect,” “super” and “spectacular,” along with more concrete features such as “home office,” “soaking tub” and “dishwasher.” But when Point2 started breaking the findings into geographic regions and price segments, it was a little more revealing…

Geographically, homes for sale in the Midwest and along the East Coast seem stuck in that “beautiful” rut, where that word held the No. 1 spot. But on the West Coast and in the South, “stainless steel appliances” went to the top of the heap, she said. Midwesterners also liked “fireplaces,” which showed up with two variations in the top 10; Eastern states placed a premium on “move-in condition;” the South was the only region to put the legendarily coveted “granite countertops” in its top tier of listing terms.

It is interesting to see stainless steel and hardwood floors up there. While these might be desirable features, they are relatively quick fixes to homes while other features, such as “open concept,” are harder to change.

This list suggests several things to me:

1. Selling a home involves a lot of marketing. This is obvious but seeing this list full of vague and positive words is an extra reminder.

2. This list is like a set of code words. If you aren’t familiar with real estate listings, these may strike you in one way but if you commonly see such words, you can read between the lines.

3. I wonder what happens to homes whose listings don’t feature these common words. Is there a penalty? Would this help the home stand out to a particular kind of buyer?

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