What matters most in real estate: words or photos?


This New Zealand Herald article trawled through their real estate listings and what words were most successful in drawing in potential buyers. The article starts:

“It’s more than just a pretty picture that lures a home buyer to a house – it’s the words used to describe it too.

“Estate agents are actively using key words to elicit a sale, and avoiding words known to put off would-be buyers.”

According to Ed Scanlan, the Herald’s Real Estate Channel Manager, there are 15 really good words that inspire positive feedback. Scanlan, the tease, supplies just five: ‘new’, ‘discover’, ‘guarantee’, ‘health’, and ‘bargain’.

In contrast, ‘basement’ is considered kinda creepy.

The conclusion to be drawn here is that nice words are nice – except for ‘cute and charming’, which apparently is often code for ‘cramped’ – and negative words are to be avoided.

But are words really that important? Just because we’ve cracked the ‘cute and charming’ code doesn’t mean we can’t be suckered in by other warm, vague phrases.

Some words when strung together are true no matter what. The old saying ‘a picture says a thousand words’ comes to mind, as does that other well-worn phrase ‘seeing is believing’.

By seeing the house online (may we suggest this website), you can decide for yourself whether a living room is spacious or ‘cute and charming’.

Recently we ran an unscientific survey on our Facebook page. Asking our followers what mattered most to them – photos or words – every reply stated that photos were, by far, of greatest influence.

These revealing responses should be taken note of by real estate agents everywhere:

“As a photographer – it’s the photos… I want to see everything.”

“I love looking at photo listings. The photos of the kitchen and bathrooms are a must!”

“Photos more than anything – the words often tend to be cliché

“Photos for sure. And to the point words… how many bedrooms etc.”

“Photos and Facts. Often agents get carried away with their listings by using too many positive descriptive words and should remember it’s not a creative writing competition.”

“Definitely photos… then the description of the house to see whether it fits your requirements… It’s easier to shortlist the houses that you want to go out and see later rather than going and seeing every single house.”

“Photos, because you can say what you like, but seeing is believing.”

Finally here’s our contribution: it is far easier to fall in love with a picture than a paragraph.

This is a topic we’ll return to at some stage because words, when used properly, do have some influence. Why else are you reading this blog after all?

For now, here is a useful guide from us as to what words in real estate are good, and what words should ring alarm bells:

Good vs bad real estate words

What do you reckon – is the written word the difference-maker for you? Or is it photos that ultimately lure you in? Feel free to use your words in the comments or on our Facebook page.

And while you’re deciding, enjoy this contribution to the debate by nineties crooners Extreme:

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