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Why Grammar Matters in Real Estate.

by Courtney Soinski

When it comes to the content descriptions in your listings, spelling and grammar may be more important than you think.  Buyers are taking note, and they may just pass on properties with spelling errors or unnecessary punctuation.

A recent survey that was conducted by the automated proofreading site Grammarly showed that 43 percent of 1,291 people say they would be less inclined to tour a home if its online property listing contained misspellings or improper grammar.  This includes overusing exclamation points and writing sentences in all caps.

According to the study, these are the top grammar and spelling errors that turn off home buyers:

1. Words and misplaced letters that spellcheck missed.

You shouldn’t completely rely on spellcheck because one misplaced letter can create a whole new meaning.

For example:

  • Master bedroom with walking closet
  • Open trough Friday
  • Low grime area
  • This is a real germ!
  • Perfect home for smell family
  • Fresh pain and carpet
  • Curve appeal
2. Punctuation.

Leaving out just one comma can change the entire meaning of a sentence.  For instance, “New construction won’t last” is absolutely different from “New construction, won’t last.”  Remember that punctuation makes a world of difference!

3.  Using all caps & too many exclamation points.

There’s no need to yell!  More importantly, writing in all caps makes the property listing especially difficult to read…

THIS HOME IS A MUST SEE! NEWLY RENOVATED WITH NEWER ELECTRICAL AND BRAND-NEW ROOF! TRAVERTINE TILE AND HARDWOOD FLOORS!

4. Abbreviations.

Keep in mind that a new home buyer may not be able to “decode” all the abbreviations that you’re using in your listing description.  Out of frustration, the confused buyer will move to the next home after reading a sentence like this: “Spcs hm w/ EF, lg. FLR and FDR.”  In case you’re wondering, it translates to: Spacious home with entrance foyer, large formal living room and formal dining room.

 

So, next time you are writing the property description for a listing, watch your language!

 

Source: RealtorMag

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40 Comments
  1. Good job in pointing out some common errors that too many real estate professionals make too often. One that you didn’t mention has been a mission of mine for many years. The fact that many of us mispronounce our own professional organization makes me crazy. It’s REAL-TOR, not Real-i-tor. Two syllables, not three. I use this example in my training classes: what would you think if you were in the emergency room and a person in a white coat came in and announced, “I’m going to be your doc-i-tor today?” That would send up a red flag wouldn’t it? The problem is that most of us no longer examine how we pronounce things at all, so we’re unaware of our error. It’s easy to correct, once you identify the problem.

    • I agree!! I hear real estate agents all the time mispronouncing REALTOR! I use the same example of DOCTOR and remind them there is no “I” in REALTOR.

    • Amen!!!! And when you work for Coldwell Banker, you get a whole new set of pet peeves! It’s pronounced Cold Well, not Cald Well or Call Well or Cole Well!!!!
      Whew! Felt good to get that off my chest, lol!

      • Really enjoyed the article. I can’t believe how many times over my 42 year career I’ve heard the i in Realtor and the hundred’s of times Realtors have mis-pronounced the word. That’s the first thing they should teach agents in Real Estate
        School.
        I agree that if agents just proof read what they write, or have their assistant who’s good in English, proof for them, there would be far fewer mistakes. It doesn’t speak well for the agent to have grossly misspelled words.
        Remember, you can always google and get the right spelling.

    • This is certainly my Broker’s pet peeve – precisely because of the fact that there should be no mistaking the pronunciation of the word ‘Realtor.’ There is no letter between the ‘l’ and the ‘t,’ so how in the world people pronounce it as if there is, is beyond me! People have similar difficulty with ‘nuclear.’ Really? ‘Nuc-u-ler’?! I have to say, though, this one doesn’t grate on me as much as it makes me laugh. I always try to respond using ‘stra-tee-ger-y.’ In a way, they go together (ha).
      My favorite illustration of the importance of proper grammar was on a t-shirt, which makes perfect sense because it is well known, of course, that many a profound thought has been shared with the masses via t-shirt and/or bumper sticker. It reads:
      Let’s eat Grandma!
      Let’s eat, Grandma!
      (Commas save lives)

    • This exact issue drives me crazy. I use the exact example by telling people (other Realtors as well) that I hear mispronounce Realtor. I always ask them who their Doc-i-tor is? Some look at ma as if I am crazy because they still don’t get it!

    • FINALLY…….some one else who knows! I laugh at the three syllable as well however you hear Real-i-tor ….I get a lot of Real-le-er “I am a Real-le-er” yeah okay…….. Thank you for pointing that one out, it drives me beyond crazy!

  2. Thank you for writing this article! Finally someone gets it. Not only do Buyers pass on home descriptions with these errors, Real Estate Brokers pass as well. I have specifically not shown a home in some instances BECAUSE I FELT LIKE I DIDN’T WANT TO DEAL WITH THE BROKER WHO WROTE THE MLS DESCRIPTION!!!!!

    • I agree, it really does feel as though I’m being yelled at when someone uses all caps. I get more irritated at the fact that not much is done to have the agents correct those descriptions when MLS rules do not allow them. Granted, that would be a slow news day when someone from our Board of Realtors calls about this particular ‘violation;’ however, if the misuse of all caps and exclamation points was enough of an issue to create a rule, then the rule should be enforced.
      Hopefully, Ms. Will, your buyers did not have to pass on finding their dream home and the other broker’s sellers did not lose out on a sale just because you did not want to deal with imperfect home descriptions. If it’s a personal policy of yours, not only could buyers and sellers be missing out, but you could be setting yourself up for a LOT of unnecessary driving and lunch tabs!

  3. One misspelled word I see often is “seperate” as in “separate utilities”.

    • Amen! That drives me crazy. If there are too many errors I feel the realtor doesn’t worry about details, so they won’t be very detail-oriented in their work either.

    • I can’t quite tell from your comment which one you’re saying is the mistake, but “separate” is the correct spelling.

  4. Pet peeve.
    The use of “then” and “than” interchangeably.
    “Then” is time related. “Than” is related to a choice.
    Example: She opened the door then went in. His cake was bigger than hers.
    I see these words misused all the time in magazine articles, newspapers, and yes in Real Estate descriptions.

  5. Let’s face it…..way too often the listing agent does not proof read the listing put in by whomever in the office. Shame on those agents. We’re listing expensive homes and the listing realtor doesn’t have the time to review the information and remarks and make corrections. Like 5 minutes time.

    Really!!! Pet peeve is the misuse of your & you’re.

    • I agree. You owe it to your client to take time to proof read! I rolled on the floor in laughter when I read, “You will enjoy the great big dick out back!”

  6. My favorite is rot iron fence – misspelled many different ways.

  7. My pet peeve is “won’t last long”. We know it means time on the market but buyers have stated more than once, don’t want the house that won’t last long. I plan on living there many years.

  8. My personal favorite – Hugh instead of “huge”. I see that misspelled so many times, and I can’t figure out why.

  9. Don’t forget the ubiquitous misuse of their, there and they’re.

  10. Another irritant – using “you” and “your” interchangeably.

    “Bring you most demanding buyers to this listing”, rather than “Bring your most demanding buyers to this listing.”

    And the sometimes seen – “Their is lots of storage in the garage.”

    Carelessness? Typing too fast? Relying only on spell-checkers?

    Or actual evidence of the “dumbing-down” of America?

  11. What drives me crazy is the over use of apostrophes. People seem to think that one belongs in any word ending in “s” – even the simplest plural version of a word – I’ve seen “room’s” when what was meant was “rooms”, as in “more than one room”. It’s really ridiculous. Apostrophes only need be used to show possession, as in “the room’s charm” or “the seller’s offer” or “the Realtor’s use of punctuation”. …

  12. I’m so glad to see someone paying attention to these details. I always think to myself “what an idiot” when agents misuse or misspell words. I find myself pre judging how working with them will be.

  13. THANK YOU! I am so glad someone has brought this to the attention of REALTORS.

  14. THANK YOU! I am so glad someone has brought this to the attention of REALTORS. Especially unforgivable is REALATER instead of REALTOR.

  15. Good article! Grammatical errors, misspellings, etc are a pet peeve of mine as well but for a buyer and/or agent to pass on a home because of mistakes in the description is just crazy and foolish in my opinion. Last I checked you’re buying the house, not the paragraph (s) the agent wrote about it.

  16. I too am shocked at what I see in listing remarks sometimes. I too will pass on even sending a copy of the listings with bad grammar or too many abbreviations (That I can’t even figure out) to a potential buyer.

  17. How is it not possible that people don’t see the errors in:

    A dinning room so large you may loose your guests.

  18. How about this one. A Realor wrote,
    ” the house is in tick-tock shape”!

  19. I am mystified by the words often used… PRICED TO SELL! seems the profession is trying to point out that most homes on the market are not priced to sell? And whose fault would that be? Which homes are not priced to sell if they are on the market?

  20. Our major daily newspaper received and printed a LETTER TO THE EDITOR from a reader who said they read the real estate pages for all the laughs…they couldn’t believe how many stupid grammar errors the average real estate page had…they called Realtors morons … he said he had no interest in buying or selling RE but would read just to circle the errors and yes,see the lies about GREAT OCEAN VIEWS that are around the corner or only visible from an attic window…but shouldn’t the newspaper that printed the letter have been proofing and helping to correct obvious Spelling errors? As a Real Estate Book owner I feel it is part of my job to look out for my clients … they are often in a hurry or working from their cars. A recent client said her property had a COY Fish pond and I not only corrected her ad but wrote a polite letter to her saying I had done so and was sure that she was in a hurry that day and she would probably want to go into the MLS and change it to KOI there also so that her listings on Zillow and other websites made a good impression. She was thankful for the helping hand…. this was a million dollar listing and sellers don’t like to see those errors either. SLO Book, CA

  21. Bravo! I couldn’t agree more!

  22. Proper punctuation can also save lives. Compare “Let’s eat, Grandma” to “Let’s eat Grandma.” ;-)

  23. Sum Reelters kant right r spel ether.

  24. My pet peeve is the improper use of the words sale and sell. After all, we are in this business to sell and make a sale!

  25. While I applaud and support your views on incorrect spelling and grammar, I find it disturbing that Agents would deny a client/customer the potential house of their dreams due to a spelling or grammatical error in the description of the house. Our job as Realtors is to list and sell Real Estate. There is nothing in the licensing process that requires an Agent to be proficient in spelling and grammar. We also need to be sensitive to the fact we have multi-cultural Agents representing our profession. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt they are still learning our language.
    To my fellow colleagues in the industry; don’t allow your spelling and grammar peeves interfere with your Agency Relationships with your clients. It could cost you money and in some cases, it could cost you your license.

  26. I too, share many of the pet peeves that have been mentioned by other REALTORS. I’d like to point out a couple of others, though they are not really grammar errors.

    While reviewing MLS listings, I’ve frequently been known to say, “REALTORS are so stupid.” One of the most common complaints I have is in the “directions to the property” section. The instructions often begin with something like, “Turn right on XYZ Street” when XYZ Street is a major thoroughfare and of course, the listing agent has no way of knowing where the reader will be starting from.
    Another description that makes me crazy is “the driveway is an acre long!” It’s concerning to me how often I’ve pointed that out to someone, only to have him also not recognize that an acre is a measure of area, not of distance.

    I’ve thought it would be fun to teach a class for REALTORS, using current MLS listings (while disguising listing agent names) and pointing out all of the careless mistakes.

  27. As a former English teacher, I love hearing all this.
    I often say, “I apologize for my profession on a daily basis”. Wish I didn’t have to. Wish the level of professionalism were higher.

  28. By far, the most important message on this blog IMO. I think this post deserves being repeated throughout the industry.

    “Charleen Orzechowski
    2:23 pm on April 23, 2014

    While I applaud and support your views on incorrect spelling and grammar, I find it disturbing that Agents would deny a client/customer the potential house of their dreams due to a spelling or grammatical error in the description of the house. Our job as Realtors is to list and sell Real Estate. There is nothing in the licensing process that requires an Agent to be proficient in spelling and grammar. We also need to be sensitive to the fact we have multi-cultural Agents representing our profession. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt they are still learning our language.
    To my fellow colleagues in the industry; don’t allow your spelling and grammar peeves interfere with your Agency Relationships with your clients. It could cost you money and in some cases, it could cost you your license.”

  29. AMEN! Why aren’t the BROKERS more concerned how their firm is represented by people who have so little respect for their work? If your language skills are deficient, have someone proofread. It makes Realtors look ignorant and lowers perception of professionalism.
    Next you will be writing about pictures of raised toilet seats, or garage doors & driveways that encompass 50% of the front view, or bedroom wall shots that show NOTHING.

  30. Thank you Daniel Nelson. I am honored you share my opinion!

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