The Real Estate Agents Authority recently announced penalties against a high performing agent for a nasty email and verbal spat with a consumer who was questioning the agents description of a property in his advertising.
This is a common complaint about the industry. There are many humorous examples available of what real estate advertising speak really means, so with tongue firmly in cheek:
• Sophisticated city living – Next to a noisy bar
• Old World Charm – Has some woodwork, needs cleaning
• Contemporary feel – Has no woodwork, still needs cleaning
• Wide open floor plan – Previous owner removed supporting walls.
• Need TLC – Major structural damage.
• Updated kitchen – Sink no longer overflows.
• Motivated seller – Been on the market for 7 years
• Convenient – Located next to motorway on-ramp.
• Move in condition – Front door missing
• Cozy – No room larger than 3m x 2m
• Light open spaces – Holes in walls and ceiling
• Outstanding – Painted pink and sticks out like a sore thumb
What's your favorite?
The industry does this in an attempt to get their advertisement to stand out from the crowd. Just like an effective headline in the newspaper catches the readers eye, the agent is trying to shout out from the throng of similar advertisements.
One of the problems is when does creativity extend so far as to become misleading? I have seen examples from the Commerce Commission where they are pedantic in their interpretation and enforcement of the Fair Trading Act.
Another problem is the effect of being "too smart". There is research out there that shows that much of this "puffery" actually has a negative impact on the price achieved, and that the best results are achieved from descriptions that focus on the solid, unadulterated, features of a property (eg granite benchtops, solid wood floors).
To me the biggest issue is the fact that consumers no longer believe what agents say. As with the tongue-in-cheek examples above, consumers have to interpret the advertisements to figure out what is really the situation. Whatever happened to straightforward, fact-based, feature/benefit orientated advertisements? What would be the results of that?