Buyer Beware: My House Buying Experience as a Communications Professional

Laura Giannola Marketing and Communications

Buying a house is an arduous process. Anyone who has bought one before (or is in the midst of buying one) can relate. Aside from the final decision of which house to buy, buyers consider a myriad of issues (legal, financial, etc.) before they actually make a purchase. So, what is it that drives people to make the decision to initially visit a property? The answer is, this visit is heavily influenced by marketing and communications.

The specific marketing and communication styles listing agents use undoubtedly motivates potential buyers to look at a property, but buyer beware—listings often contain carefully articulated terms and strategically positioned photos that can often leave the buyer like a victim of “false” advertising.

Here’s my brief take on the listing descriptions and listing photos describing what you see (and don’t see) versus the actual qualities of the property. Disclaimer: This is based on my personal experience and doesn’t apply to all real estate listings.

Listing Descriptions Translations:
  • “Great investment opportunity!” = This property requires a lot of work—and additional money.
  • “Location, location, location!” = Often true, but the house will need work
  • “Original character/charm” = Old house
  • “Convenient location to/Minutes away from [hospitals, highways, colleges, train station]” = You’re next door to these places, or within earshot of them
  • “Unique opportunity” = Not the right house for most people
  • “This home is larger than it appears” = The property has a substantial amount of space in terms of square footage, however it isn’t utilized properly resulting in small, choppy spaces
Listing Photos:
  • If something is listed in the description, but you don’t see a photo of it, then there’s likely a reason why there’s no photo—and it’s probably not a good thing
  • Beware of wide-angle lens or fisheye lens pictures. If you think, “Wow, this space looks huge for the size of this house!” then it probably isn’t; rather, it’s a trick of the photographer’s lens 

The examples above are just a few that I’ve personally seen first-hand during my home-buying experience. Marketing and communications are a pivotal part of selling a house, and listing agents are proficient in crafting a great sales message. While it can be frustrating to potential buyers, the strategy behind this sales message can be adapted and utilized by businesses in any industry.

While real estate marketing often trend to the extreme end of the product promotion spectrum, businesses should take a more delicate approach. Using the principles learned from the real estate world, businesses should always emphasize the positives of their product first, and also turn any potential negatives into positives—ensuring that there is a conscientious balance between the two efforts. The reality of your product will always show through any marketing and communications campaigns, so be careful not to implement any messaging that could backfire as “false” advertising or deception. 

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