Real Estate Ads - Writing Tips We Need to Know

By: Roselind Hejl

As Realtors, a routine part of our job is to write ad copy for newspapers, brochures and internet sites. Our goal is to create a favorable sense of the property and intrigue a potential buyer. However, it is easy to cross the line into false statements or discriminatory language. Although we may not intend to write discriminatory text, some of the language that we casually use may be interpreted that way. Today, more than ever, we must be careful that our property descriptions are accurate, as well as in compliance with Fair Housing laws. Here are some reminders:

1. Always be careful to describe the features of the property. Never profile the buyer. Although we may have a likely type of buyer in mind, we should never focus the ad directly at a particular group of people. Consider every financially qualified person a potential buyer. Here are some examples that describe the property:

Historic home with wide front porch

Condo with well equipped exercise center and pool

Qualified senior housing

Take a break from yard work!

Enjoy your own private resort!

Bring your hammer and lots of ideas!

Avoid phrases, such as these, that focus on the buyer:

Empty nesters welcome (Are kids not welcome?)

Great family neighborhood (Will a single be suspect?)

Hispanic community (OK, I get it.)

Near Indian grocery (Is this the Indian part of town?)

Perfect for single guy (Is it safe for other people?)

Bring your kids (Sorry, don't have any!)

2. Our ad copy often conveys a sense of the neighborhood, as well as of the home itself. Here are some phrases that describe the community:

Gated neighborhood

Estate sized lots

Popular neighborhood close to shopping

Tree lined streets with sidewalks

Secluded setting

1940's era neighborhood

Horses allowed

On the golf course

It is one thing to talk about the neighborhood and another thing to talk about the neighbors. Avoid phrases that focus on the neighbors themselves. Never indicate a preference for certain types of people, to the exclusion of others. Stay away from these kind of phrases:

Exclusive area (Who is excluded?)

Executive level home (What about middle management?)

Elite neighborhood (Who qualifies?)

Country club area (Are non members allowed?)

Neighborhood of young families (What about older folks?)

Mature area (Are kids non-grata?)

Attends top schools (Says who?)

Quiet, conservative neighborhood (Liberals need not apply!)

3. Remember to stick to the facts when describing property! Some obvious puffery is fun, and light general language creates a sense of the property. Here are some samples that work:

Extensive remodeling, including new floors and windows

You'll love the new look

Fresh and bright

Move right in

Designer colors

Comfortable and spacious

Stop looking - this is it!

But, before going to print, consider subtle meanings that might be misinterpreted, such as these:

Totally remodeled (Really?)

Kept in perfect condition (Wait til you see the inspection report!)

Wonderful neighbors (Yes, rock bands are fun!)

Safe area (Can you guarantee this?)

Lovely hardwood floors under carpet (Does someone have x-ray vision?)

New carpet (Well, it was new last year.)

All appliances replaced (Does this include the hot water heater?)

New heat and AC (All parts of the system?)

4. Also, in the interest of accuracy, avoid the use of brand names in a generic way. If you use a brand name, make sure the item is that brand. Here are some common mistakes:

Jennire grill

Jacuzzi tub

Corian counters

Sisal carpet

Andersen windows

Sub-Zero refrigerator

5. Lastly, do not offer assurances about what can be done with the property. Adding on may be more difficult than you realize. Easements on the property, deed restrictions, soil conditions, neighborhood opposition or building ordinances may be obstacles to construction. The buyer may rely on your offhand statement, and be very disappointed later. Avoid statements like these:

Plenty of room for a pool

Ready for new master bedroom

Add second story and see downtown

Sub-divide, and have two lots

Backs to greenbelt (Is it a dedicated preserve, or private property?)

Perfect for bed and breakfast

Un-obstructed view of lake

In marketing a home, it is our job to bring out its best features and attract qualified buyers. As we create ad copy for newspapers, brochures, and the internet, it is very important to use accurate language, and to stay in compliance with Fair Housing laws. We should never refer to the sex, racial origin, familial status, or age of potential buyers, or residents who live in the area.

If we appear to direct property advertising to certain groups of people, some prospective buyers may feel that they are not welcome to consider the property. Or, if their offer is not accepted, they may feel that, based on your statements, the rejection was the result of a bias against them. This could result in an unwanted problem for all parties. Now, more than ever, it is important to analyze ads for ambiguous meanings. Your reputation is at stake.

Top Searches on

» More on Writing

Share this article :
Click to see more related articles