A counter offer

Tom Bozzo comments! on the language! in real estate listings! with an example listing that according to Steve Levitt, does everything wrong. I’m happy to say that we only used one of Levitt’s top five price-reducing words in our own listing, the effect of which may have been counteracted by the mention of our stainless steel fridge.

As Tyler Cowen notes, “You use general words [charming] when you have nothing better to say.” So why do agents still use all those euphemisms that indicate lower value of their properties? I might hazard a guess about agents not being all that reflective, but I suppose that we have to wait for the book to really get the answer. Still, agents and sellers still have to say something about their homes that aren’t full of high-end gourmet remodeled maple kitchens, and these are the homes bought by younger, less wealthy, first-time homebuyers (hi, nice to meet me). I’d suggest that there may be a lot of room to hurt the value of a high-end home, but less room to hurt or improve the value of a lower-end home.

And is that your kitchen, Tom? I’ve always liked corian.


Selling a house, I have found in the last couple of weeks, is a lot like conducting survey research. You work furiously, vigorously, exhaustively in preparation. You agonize over the minutia and at least twice a day you doubt the entire damned project. Then, after weeks of effort and deliberation, you start distributing the survey and go ahead and list the house.

And then, at full speed, you run into a wall, because at that point the success of all that work depends essentially on either having something that somebody wants, or getting strangers to be nice to you. So you wait, and every time the phone rings (or your inbox chimes) you lunge to see if you have a response. It’s like a homemade ulcer kit.

But the similarities don’t stop there, oh no, they go much deeper. At some point, after investing so much work and time, you really start identifying with your project. Incomplete surveys? Rejection! Inadequate oohing and aaahing at your open beam ceilings, mature native landscaping, and designer light fixtures? Rejection!

And not even spring break can save you.

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