September 28, 2011

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Embellishment and Discrimination – the Great Unravellers

image: flickr/tosaytheleast

image: flickr/tosaytheleast

Real estate professionals are constantly required to come up with snappy copy that creates intrigue in buyers and positions the property in the most favourable light, whilst holding off the competition. And they have to do it week in and out. It’s easy then to see how imaginations can wander and ads can become outlets for frustrated creative writers! But a property advertisement should never ever contain a falsehood or ‘stretched truth’ and should be very mindful of crossing into discriminatory territory.

Without meaning to, it is possible to throw words and phrases around in our descriptions that can actually get us into trouble. Comments that focus on the type of buyer may seem harmless - and indeed useful - to you, but they can be misinterpreted and upset people. Examples are:

  • Perfect bachelor pad (would couples not be happy here?)
  • Haven for empty-nesters (are kids not welcome?)
  • Vibrant Asian community (what if I’m not Asian?)
  • Family neighbourhood (if I don’t have kids will I feel left out?)
Other comments about the neighbourhood may also feel like useful descriptors to you, but could in fact exclude some potential buyers without intending to. Examples are:
  • Exclusive neighbourhood (who is excluded and why?)
  • Quiet area (what if I play the drums?)
  • Executive style (what if I’m a tradesperson?)
Likewise, when describing the property itself you need to ensure you get the facts straight and don’t embellish the truth, so you don’t mislead anybody. Some common examples of stretching the truth are:
  • Totally remodelled (absolutely every part of the house?)
  • New carpet (as of when?)
  • All in perfect condition (every single appliance?)
  • Wonderful neighbours (how do you know if I’ll get on with them?)
Be mindful too of not using brand names to describe elements of the home if that brand of appliance or item is not actually installed. Jacuzzi tub is an example.
And finally, look out for making promises about the property that you can not guarantee. Typical examples of this are:
  • Room for a pool
  • Build up and get great sea views
  • Sub-divide and make great returns
  • Perfect for a Bed & Breakfast
Whilst these things may sound pedantic, it is very important to think about what you’re writing and how you’re conveying the property so as not to offend or exclude any potential buyers. Some light and breezy commentary is par for the course and should be encouraged to paint the picture, but be careful about how much poetic license you use!

Related posts:

  1. Top 10 Tips for Great Listing Copy
  2. NFHA Targets “Rampant Discrimination” Online

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