Words That Sell Million Dollar Homes

David Bates / February 23, 2011-1:26 pm

When I was in charge of the advertising for the brokerage I managed, I used to keep a book on my desk entitled “Words that Sell.” It was written by a former ad executive and had an arsenal of words and expressions that could lure, compel and persuade. The book included 57 ways to say “authentic” and more than 100 synonyms for “exciting.” Today, words and pictures on the Internet are real estate’s new curb appeal. And because the MLS remarks section is distributed to thousands of websites and seen by millions of consumers, it is critical for firms to bring their A game when describing the state’s most enviable properties.

Just what words are used to sell Massachusetts’ most valuable properties? A recent survey (December 2010) of the MLS descriptions used to lure prospective buyers to the 887 most valuable properties on the market gives us that insight. Apparently, the most important characteristic to convey to prospective buyers is that these properties are “private” (341 times, with another 20 mentions of the phrase “more secluded”). Next, these homes were described not just as “new” but “custom” (234 times). Of course, they are “beautiful” (215 times). And while some may be considered “stunning” (122 times) or “gorgeous” (66 times), only one was described as “pretty.” In regard to superlatives used to describe these properties, the term “spectacular” (137 times) beat out “magnificent” (108 times), but so did the commonly used and more generic-sounding “great” (121 times). Of course, many of these properties were called “elegant” (113 times), “gracious” (84 times), “luxurious” (59 times) and “sophisticated” (21 times). But mostly they are “large” (181 times) and “spacious” (110 times). Less often they are “huge” (43 times). And, by the way, they are never “gigantic.”

“Kitchen” is the most popular part of the house mentioned. It comes up 467 times. And when it does, it often is preceded with “gourmet” (125 times) or professional (52 times). In talking about the kitchen, RealtorsÒ might refer to the brand of the appliances, like the 39 times they mentioned Subzero refrigerators (39 “sub zero,” 15 “subzero” and 16 “sub-zero”) and the 20 times they mentioned Viking stoves. Other times they might just have called the kitchen appliances “top-of-the-line” (16 times) or made the kitchen one of the areas they described with the expression “state-of-the-art” (72 total times).

Another extremely popular part of the home to sell is the master-suite, which came up 309 times. Part of the real curb appeal, the term “landscape” was mentioned 156 times. And when you are reminded that we are talking about the 887 most expensive homes in the state, perhaps it isn’t surprising that a place to park your boat (“dock,” 94 times) came up more often than a place to park your car (“garage,” 85 times).

And, to be clear, when you’re talking about these types of properties, for the most part you’re talking about “estates” (190 times) and not “mansions” (20 times). In terms of where these homes are located, you could find them on a “hill” (85 times) or on a “farm” (60 times), but mostly you find them on the “beach” (153 times).

And just in case you were wondering, they are seldom “exciting” (6 times) and apparently almost never “authentic” (4 times).