By Yvonne Dick

There are ways of listing properties, and then there are ways of listing properties that can derail your potential buyer’s interest.

For example, when reading through the listing of a property, it is easy to become distracted by the little things such as spelling mistakes. As you create the text for your listing, make sure that you check it for spelling. You can purchase spell checking programs and most word processing software includes a spell check. Don’t get caught out by the differences between American and Canadian spelling. A free program called Grammarly can be added to your web browser or purchased for use offline. Grammarly is one of the very few programs where you can stipulate if you want the spelling to be in American or British English.

Grammar checking is also a good idea. While the Hemmingway App is also free (available offline too), it offers a more complex look at your grammar. You can gauge your words against reading scores. For everyday use such as listings, you will want a lower number simply because that means the text is easy to read. The program allows you to copy and paste or write into the web browser. It isn’t always necessary to correct each highlighted area in the grammar software, but it will give you a nice overview when you may be adding in words that give extra points in Scrabble but are less appealing for everyday use.

Read your writing out loud to see if you can spot obvious mistakes. Then do not be afraid to ask a friend or colleague who will be honest with you to give your listing a critique.

Misuse of words can be another problem area for listings. An example of a commonly misused word is complement instead of compliment. Complement is a word you would use when various aspects of a room go together well. A compliment is when you say something nice to or about someone.

Phrases can also be overstated to your listing’s detriment. “Turn of the century” can apply to houses built in the late 1990s just as easily as those built in the early 1900s. Be specific. If your property is Georgian style, for instance, stating this will be far more descriptive for potential buyers who wish to know how old it is and how it may be designed.

Geography is important too. Make sure that you are accurate if listing nearby attractions for potential buyers. While six blocks may sound like it is “just moments away”, this doesn’t convey accurate amounts of time. One salesperson’s “moments away” is another’s “two minutes by car”. In the same line of reasoning, stating that “local shops are nearby” is another way of saying that shops nearby are located nearby.  Local shops by definition refer to those in close proximity. It is okay to simply say, for example, “near to shops and school” or whatever attractions are close at hand.

Put thought into what you are writing. While it may be a matter of only a few sentences, knowing how to maximize their impact can give you a definite edge on the competition. How many listings have you read stating things such as “functional kitchen” or “working furnace?” When selling a property, all items are expected to be in working order. It should not be necessary to state that they are in working order. It is not a selling point that the kitchen in a pre-existing house is actually usable.

What you most want to convey to those who are looking at your listings is the facts in a straightforward and pleasing manner. Do not use a lot of fancy words to describe ordinary things.

For instance, a 1950s style kitchen is probably not elegant, timeless or classy. It is a turn-off to a reader/buyer when flaws of a property are described as though they are jewels. Are you selling them a silk purse or a sow’s ear? It can cause doubt about valid features of the home when its detriments are looked upon in a loving manner by an over-zealous salesperson.

Stick with reasonable and accurate descriptions. Your no-nonsense, easy to understand style will bring you more readers for your listing than one that tries to convey a fantasy world or fast deal.


  1. Jim, this article is so on the money. The writer is always worth reading.

    First impressions are not just related to how people dress and or present themselves physically.

    How phones are answered. And with what associated efficiency. How quickly msgs are replied to, either telephone calls or emails, or even in some cases snail mail or hand delivery.

    Has nothing to do with the early bird gets the worn theory, but defining the worm might be relative.

    If you have your own website, copy and paste the public version of your listing on your site (this version being minus owner’s name and maybe even remove the specific address).

    I always had good luck preparing a “storybook” page specifically written for a given listing property. Example: (Landing page)

    Welcome to 23 Newton Road, Brampton…
    $400,000 – “We interviewed three top agents in total. One said our house should be ‘listed’ at 345k. Another said we should ‘list’ at 350k, which indicated to us that we would end up selling for less. The third agent to be interviewed, we told Carolyne how much we wanted for our beautiful house. She said we could try, based on comparable sales at 385k, that were not on ravine lots. So we listed with Carolyne. Showings started April 29th. Five days later, on May 4 we accepted the first offer at 395k. That’s 45k and 50k more, respectively, than the other two agents would have had us list at.”

    The house story including my promo, built business for the future: would-be sellers who owned similar properties and would-be buyers looking for something similar in the area.

    Bear in mind this is a very old listing, just used as an example:


    What’s Happening? ©

    23 Newton Road, Brampton – Fall in love – generous private ravine lot

    Beautiful mature area, backing onto ravine. One of Brampton’s finest executive residential properties, located only minutes from Hwy. 410, with access from Hwy. 410 to 401, 403, 407; 12 minutes from the airport; shops, restaurants, parks, rec centres, schools, churches of all denominations; minutes from Shopper’s World Brampton and buses, Go Trains, and many routes to many places.

    Who says we can’t go back in time to a different world and a different way of life? Away from the hustle and bustle, to a serene atmosphere? One of yesteryear, yet with all today’s most modern conveniences. If you are enamoured of the Laura Ashley look, perhaps blended with a little Trish Romance, and imagine it all in a fine community perhaps in Georgia — well, you’ve come to the right place. We know for sure that Father Knows Best easily would have chosen to live here, and perhaps the Brady Bunch as well. The genuine “home” atmosphere in this very special place is palpable.

    The main level features a large living room with adjacent dining room. The amazing custom upgraded kitchen (done in real wood) overlooks the now partly open family room that has a camouflaged bar and storage area in the custom wall unit. There are two accesses to a most amazing oversize gazebo porch attached to the rear corner of the house that is reminiscent of what one would see in the Deep South, with bulbous columns strategically positioned. You would find this a useful addition to any home, where you can entertain in private or just sit and take in the beauty of the treed ravine and view the kidney shape inground cement pool that has been fastidiously maintained, and listen to the sounds of a tinkling brook that is really a fountain-pond. There’s a very private side door entrance in the main floor laundry room and a darling powder room that services the main floor. On the upper level there are very generous bedrooms and a full ensuite bathroom. Beautiful original parquet floors in some bedrooms.

    Down a few stairs there is a recreation room, perhaps a pizza pad for teens, or a work-at-home office, complete with an additional bedroom (perhaps a nanny suite?), and an open concept huge unfinished basement area with plenty of storage area and a private giant workshop. This home has been professionally decorated and professionally landscaped. The yards are breathtakingly beautiful but still easy-care. Shows extremely well.

    Barracuda Pool Cleaner; Heater (2001). The roof shingles were replaced in 1995; furnace replaced (1994), and a humidifier (2005). The windows (1995) have been replaced and 2 new large Pella Hunt patio sliding doors (1996).

    FEATURE PRICE: – $400,000. Please tell your friends and neighbours at home, and at the office, about this great opportunity nestled away on a street that many don’t even know exists. And BONUS: there is still mail delivery to your door. Click here to read page 2 for additional specs and info. Owner says: “bring your offer” for best deal in town. When you see it, no question about it, you will want to own it. Most recent comparables sold for 385k. Call for further details.

    This home is offered on MLS. We sell other companies’ listings and they sell ours. That’s what MLS is all about.


    And, remember, your best investment in real estate is your choice of agent. Call the one who really gets results – if we don’t have it, we’ll go out and get it for you.
    ~ ~ ~ Coming soon on the street where you live ~ ~ ~ Carolyne


    The REM article writer is correct. We are under scrutiny for so many things, including but not limited to her great suggestions, herein, as she says,

    And then there’s this sort of thing: my very old short article printed by Blanche Evans when she was at Realty Times, and later reprinted in her Dearborn published real estate book, as

    “First Impressions” ~ Carolyne Lederer

    What’s Happening?TM

    Carolyne Lederer ~ Compliments of Carolyne Realty Corp. Brampton -Toronto, Canada

    (These are general comments only and do not apply to any one home in particular)

    * Polish the front door knob, wash the glass/door and sweep front step area

    * Clear away any debris or clutter from front door, inside and outside area to make entry to home seem more spacious and to allow freedom of movement for more than one person.

    * Open windows daily for a few minutes to exchange stale air and/or
    cooking odors, mildew/moisture from hot showers and laundry.

    * Switch low-watt bulbs to high-watt bulbs while selling, and turn all
    lights on (even for daytime viewings).

    * If you are at work during the day, leave a radio on and turn on a couple of lights to make your home even more inviting.

    * If you’ve had stale odors in the basement, due to rooms being closed
    over long periods, strategically locate an open bag of real charcoal, or large bags of baking soda, to absorb smells and help keep the air fresh.

    * Wipe clean all kitchen doors on cabinets, then wipe an oil-soaked cloth over real wood to freshen appearance.

    * Empty kitty litter trays “daily” while selling your home. Buyers find full
    trays very offensive.

    * Pack anything you won’t use between now and moving day. Store boxes out of the way of traffic areas.

    * Rearrange furniture so as to make rooms look more spacious, and to create areas that are easy to pass without knocking over ornaments, etc.

    * Pretend you are a buyer and that you have never seen your home before. Would you buy? Why not?

    * Open dark drapes or blinds to lighten and brighten rooms.

    * Replace washers in drippy taps.

    * Play nice dinner music so buyers feel free to speak without being overheard.

    * Don’t leave your home while it is being shown; just stay in one place,
    conveniently out of the line of traffic.

    * Be pleasant but don’t volunteer information unless the agent asks for your help. Agents don’t like to be followed about while showing your home.

    * Make a list, for your own agent, of all the reasons this home appealed to you when you bought it. This will be a helpful tool when re-selling it, possibly

    * Some people are allergic to pets or are frightened of pets. Keep your pets outside, or in a sectioned off area while guests are viewing. Besides, pets are valuable family members, too, and we would want Rover to get away on us.

    * If you have unusual pets, eg. lizards, ferrets, snakes, pet rats, etc. board them out or get a pet sitter (at grandma’s?) until your home is sold. Most agents (or buyers) are terrified and will not show your home a second time. As, well word spreads like wildfire throughout the real estate community, to stay away.

    * Keep perfumes, air fresheners and smoke to a minimum, as many people, today, have life-threatening allergies.

    * Keep kitchen sparkling clean – and counters free of medications, pill bottles, and anything that small children could accidentally get their hands on while visiting during the time their parents are in your home. (safety first)

    * Valuables such as jewelry, money, Doulton figurines – should be kept out of easy reach or put away completely while selling your home; also, collectibles such as weapons, guns, knives or anything that may be dangerous.

    * An agent should be present at all showings. Do not invite complete
    strangers into your home. Just because your home is on the market, it is not an open-door invitation to the public to arrive unannounced. Call your agent.

    Referrals from former clients or customers, by having you pass along my name and number, provide the most satisfying source of business for me, because it says that you believe I did a good job for you, and that you want your friends, family,and associates to receive the same high level of service, when they buy or sell real estate.
    Thank you so much. Sincerely, Carolyne

    And, remember, your best investment in real estate is your choice of agent. Call the one who really gets results – if we don’t have it, we’ll go out and get it for you.


    Yes, it’s OLD news, but everything old is new again; always in fashion. Perhaps try it on for size.

    Carolyne L 🍁

    • As an aside, someone might find it interesting how I came to get called to present to list that house, a reasonable distance from the market area where much of my business came from, but close enough to work it. Had I thought not, I would have referred it to local agent working the area.

      Several years prior, at another of my listings, I had presented an MLS offer on the skirts of my farm area. Back in the days when we all sat at the table to discuss in what now looks like, historically, a somewhat formal atmosphere, by today’s standards.

      The kitchen was open concept to a small family room. WHOOPS! The owners hadn’t said they had guests, a quiet older couple. I was introduced and since they weren’t part of the procedure they just say there speaking softly to one another for a couple of hours while I detailed the points of the offer completely.

      We kept the presentation professional. Everyone was calm, cool, and collected, there was a small sign back and the agent returned in minutes with an accepted contract.

      At no time were the guests involved. I politely said goodbye to them when I left, thanked the sellers that they had listed at a responsible market-generated asking price, only days before, netting a respectable offer in a timely fashion. Sold for almost list price.

      Several years passed. I got a call to the ravine house. Discovered the husband had passed away. (The guest couple’s home.)

      The wife told me they had discussed selling the house at some point in time. They had each promised each other that when they sold they would call that girl who presented the offer on their friends’ place, It took me awhile to put two and two together. Oh, and she didn’t tell me this till the sold sign went up. Clever.

      Her adult married son who lived several
      miles away, took care of any house needs, the lawn, etc. but he desperately tried to get his mum to list with the other local reps because they would do the job for much, very much, less commission than I charged, the top of my rates as I allowed for the demand required, as to extensive, expensive full-colour advertising.

      No problem, sir, but there is something we need to get straight right up front. “You, sir, are not my client. I take directions only from your mum.” His eyebrows nearly enveloped the top of his head. He had been convinced that I would be taking his directions, and his only.

      He wasn’t going to have any old agent take advantage of his mum. Good for him. But that didn’t change how I work, and in the end we were on good speaking terms and he sent me a referral from his location. No one had ever (gently) stood up to him. He was a bully. It wasn’t just about his mum. He really was a misogynist.

      For starters, apparently my presentation was quite different. And certainly my fee was nearly double. Right away he telephoned me, he didn’t like me, and didn’t like my very first ads, using professional photographer’s beautiful pictures. HUH? He would rewrite everything (his mother loved them). It was almost comical to see him peddle backwards. I was always gracious, but firm.

      Gentle reminder needed. Didn’t like my “storybook” web page, either, and especially, least of all the “gift-wrapped” feature sheets, rolled, and tied with pretty streams of ribbons matching her “lady” decor, in a wide mouth vase on a front door table. Too girlie! OKAY!

      His mum was “thrilled.” Everything matched her decor. I worked to support her personality. Someone needed to buy that house and love it just the way it was. Appreciate it and likely not change a thing. Certainly it wasn’t for everyone.

      A darling “home.” You could feel the love. Granted, not everyone’s cup of tea. And she permitted me the pleasure of finding her a new location in a different part of town. So it was a win win for all.

      The selling agent was representing a buyer who actually lived nearby and had always admired the property and said if it ever came on the market she was going to have it.

      Talk about synchronicity again, she called me on my sign. She explained and shared her predicament: had an agent in Toronto. She wanted to be sure I didn’t sell it to anyone until she got to see inside.

      Her agent was too busy later to attend the home inspection, and agent was getting married. Could I help? What the heck? Why not. In the end it would help my seller. Faxed completion docs and I delivered to my thrilled seller. No muss. No fuss. Beautiful sold sign, up in no time.

      Just sharing to say how beautiful some days were in the prior ways of working. Not sure it would work in today’s world of real estate.

      Carolyne L 🍁

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