On the one hand, I’m guessing few of us are enamoured by the language of estate agents. Although clichés can be useful for getting a standard set of information across to a loyal audience, the problem with estate agents’ lingo is that there are simpler, more honest ways to say the same thing, if it needs saying at all.
So should we be rejoicing that one estate agent, in an effort to desist from trundling out the same-old phrases, sent their staff on a poetry course? Instead of ‘direct sea views’ we are told ‘without feeling lonely, the room has an echo.’ Or try this:
Crossing the threshold
Passing into history
Near seafront and shops
Cobbles and tarmac meet
Historic Hove and the new come together in a mews house, light, comfortable and homely ... and with parking.
As a lover of the way poetry shuffles about in ordinary words and situations, I think this is fun. As someone with an eye on marketing I see that the stunt has generated widespread publicity for the company. But will it sell more houses?
Solving the wrong problem
Estate agent owner Paul Bonett said he was fed up with the ‘meaningless jargon that potential buyers could see through in an instant. Boring old clichés like immaculate condition, delightful, compact and bijoux are hindering, not helping sales.’
So he wants property descriptions that we can’t see through?
At Fluent we have worked with a few property agents now, as well as hunting for properties ourselves. We’re beginning to get a feel for what people want from an estate agent's website. And it’s not poetry.
Most people looking for properties online are trawling through hundreds of descriptions, trying to filter out the irrelevant ones as quickly as possible, flicking through what’s left to see if any of them meet their requirements and desires. It is not particularly fun and they do not have all day to do it.
Anything that slows down the process – animated picture galleries, long download times, unclear or protracted navigation, confusing text – is a pain in the neck the first time, never mind the fiftieth. And then for people to have to decipher a poetic riddle that does not actually tell them what the house is like – what a terrible idea.
Home-hunters do not dislike ‘compact’ because it is boring. They dislike it because it’s disingenuous. And no, they would not rather read draws the evenings into charming cosiness – they would prefer an agent to come out and say: it’s small. And 'bijoux'? What’s that supposed to mean? 'Delightful'? Isn’t that up to the customer to decide?
The problem is not that we’re bored with estate agents’ clichés, it is that they are unhelpful and unnecessary at a time when, rather boringly, we just want the facts, and fast.
No one reads the description anyway
Or at least they shouldn’t have to. If our clients are to be believed, people go straight for either the photo gallery or the floorplan to find out what a house is like. The best thing you can do on the property description page as an estate agent is make your gallery large, prominent and full of decent photographs that are easy and quick to scroll through, with a big, clearly labelled, detailed floorplan next to it. Here’s a good example.
Apart from the square footage for city dwellers, that’s pretty much everything we need to know. At a glance. It’s a classic case of show don’t tell.
It’s great to hear about estate agents getting creative in the way they present properties. My tip: give visual information, quickly. If you have to write anything after that, bare facts will do just fine.
Originally published on SmyWord.com