When you're shopping for a home and looking at listings online, remember not to take what's there at face value. "Sellers will only show you the photos online that they want you to see," says self-made millionaire and real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran. "The rest is copy."
There are a few common linguistic tricks brokers will use in their listings, too. Corcoran, who wrote ad copy for 15 years, is familiar with them all: "I used to write these words constantly and I know what they mean."
Here are the most common misleading words used in real estate ads and what they actually mean, according to Corcoran:
"Cozy" means too small
"Charming" means too old
"Original condition" means ancient
"Needs a little TLC" means it's a dump
"Conveniently located" means noisy
Finally, "the worst word in all real estate copy," says Corcoran, "is unique. It simply means nobody wants it. Impossible to sell."
When you're looking at listings, rather than focusing on the rhetoric or on the photos, which can also be misleading, focus on the dimensions of the home and the price per square foot.
"Shrewd buyers and real professionals always look at the house on a price per square foot [basis]," Corcoran says, which can give them a leg up in final price negotiations. "For example, if the other four houses in the neighborhood are selling for $480 to $490 a foot, if you analyze this one and it's $520, you can make that seller aware that their per-foot price is not even in line with the market. … It gives you negotiating power."
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