Grammar Rules in Real Estate By Sanette Tanaka

Updated May 8, 2014 7:26 p.m. ET

It's not just English teachers who notice misspellings in luxury-home
listings; typos and missing commas can slow sales and drag down prices

Real-estate agents, better take out that red pen.

An analysis of listings priced at $1 million and up shows that "perfect"
listings—written in full sentences without spelling or grammatical
errors—sell three days faster and are 10% more likely to sell for more
than their list price than listings overall.

On the flip side, listings riddled with technical errors—misspellings,
incorrect homonyms, incomplete sentences, among others—log the most
median days on the market before selling and have the lowest percentage
of homes that sell over list price. The analysis, conducted by Redfin, a
national real-estate brokerage, and Grammarly, an online proofreading
application, examined spelling errors and other grammatical red flags in
106,850 luxury listings in 52 metro areas in 2013.

For an industry without a universal stylebook, real-estate agents vary
greatly in their listing descriptions. While some brokerages have
created internal guidelines, much of the actual writing is still left up
to the discretion of listing agents.

"It's ubiquitous in this business. Bad grammar, misspellings, stray
commas, missing periods—it's all part of listing descriptions," says
Mickey Conlon, associate real-estate broker with Core in New York.

Good spelling and grammar may indicate the agent is attentive to other
details as well, like pricing the home correctly and weighing offers,
says Karen Krupsaw, vice president of real-estate operations at Redfin.

Most commonly misspelled words in listings: throughout, separate,
oversized Riverside, Calif., has the highest rate of listings with
misspellings (57% of listings) Source: Redfin and Grammarly

"You can get a sense of what the transaction will be like based on the
listing description. If it's exceptionally sloppy, then it's a warning
sign of a potentially sloppy transaction," Mr. Conlon says.

Table: Grammarly identified spelling errors

Aside from errors, the analysis also looked at style preferences in
listings. One of the most common: phrases written in all-capital
letters. These listings saw the least success in terms of sale price,
with only 5.6% of homes selling above list price. The practice is most
common in Las Vegas, where 28.5% of listings were written in all capital
letters in 2013, compared with 8.4% of listings nationwide.
Las Vegas had the highest rate of for-sale listings in all-capital
letters, even though the practice led to smaller comparative gains in
sale price, according to Redfin and Grammarly. Zuma Press

Common abbreviations, like "bdrm" for "bedroom," and short phrases fared
well by comparison.

Amy Williams, a broker with Century 21 Real Estate Consultants in
Charlotte, N.C., says abbreviations are necessary in multiple-listing
services with low character limits. "That's why we see people resort to
abbreviations, to fit everything in," says Ms. Williams, adding that her
MLS caps listing descriptions at 500 characters. 

Last year, Francine Chalmé Meyberg, an agent with Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices California Properties in Encino, Calif., had a $1.499
million listing for a five-bedroom home in Bell Canyon. In addition to
the home's many features, the listing boasted a kitchen "updated w/
redone cab. & recs. lit., & opens to the the bk. area & lg. fam. rm. w/
fipl. & access to the majestic outside." Her cramming paid off. She sold
the property within months of listing for $1.425 million.

Write to Sanette Tanaka at

Don't cite this page:
It is lifted from "Grammar rules in real estate" -- article in 9 May 2014 Mansion of WSJ, by Sanattee Tanaka.
[Tuesday, 23-Oct-2018 21:15:46 EDT]
Edited by: on Saturday, 10-May-2014 18:59:54 EDT