The language of selling houses


A cross-Canada exploration of the most frequently used words on house listings shows us a little about our varied priorities

According to data compiled by the online real estate listings portal Point2Homes, “hardwood floors” is the most common word or short phrase used in Canadian real estate listings, followed by “beautiful” and “stainless steel appliances.” (In the graphic above, the larger the word appears, the more often it shows up in listings.)

Point2Homes scanned its approximately 40,000 Canadian home listings to discover which words we use most often to attract buyers to our properties, creating a snapshot of the features we feel  are most important – whether they appeal to our aesthetic or  aspirational senses, or to more mundane concerns such as appliances and  location.

The company (point2homes. com) also released provincial and regional  breakdowns to the Post, highlighting different concerns buyers tend to  have from place to place. For example, “beautiful” may be one of the most common sales pitches nationwide, but Saskatchewan homes are more often “spacious.” Homes in several provinces (including Ontario, Quebec and Alberta)  boast more about their hardwood floors rather than their beauty as a  whole. Ontario sellers are more likely than others to point out that  their homes feature electric light fixtures, probably a consequence of  the province’s large number of cottages.

Point2Homes is based in the United States, and it had earlier searched  its 300,000 or so U.S. listings in the same way. A few keywords at the  top of the lists are in common, said Point2Homes spokeswoman Roxana  Baiceanu in an interview with the Post. “But some of the specific keywords – those are pretty different.”

The Top 3 words and phrases are the same as on the Canadian list, but  they differ from there. Canadians advertise their homes as “huge,” “perfect,” “quiet” and “close to schools” – all of these phrases are in the Canadian Top 10 but not the American. American homeowners are much more likely to advertise a pool or say  their house is “priced to sell.”

Meanwhile, Americans tout their dwellings as “your dream home” (No. 6 on the U.S. list) and tell buyers to “build your dream” on the property (No. 11), whereas Canadians are evidently less prone to dreaming: Neither phrase shows up in the Canadian Top 20.

Ms. Baiceanu said Point2Homes had also noticed that emotionally charged  language seems to be giving way to more hard-headed concerns all over  North America. “A few years ago, there were a lot  of adjectives that were making it into the Top 100. Now we’re seeing the home features are gaining more places here. It will be really  interesting,” she says, “to follow this in the years to come.”

As they say, the rich are different, and the same goes for their homes.  According to the Point2Homes data, houses listed for $5-million or more  are described as “exquisite,” “magnificent” and “breathtaking”; none of these phrases shows up in the Top 100 for ordinary homes. Meanwhile, “private” is the third-most common term in listings for luxury houses but only fifth-most for other homes.

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