For many agents, writing property ads is as enervating as it is time draining when there are other important tasks and responsibilities needing attention. You know you’re an expert salesperson, buyer’s advocate, analyst, business manager, consultant, negotiator, marketer and area specialist; but to a potential buyer who is judging you on your professional standards, a simple spelling mistake can sabotage your first impression. Rather than seeing a fumble in your ad as an insignificant oversight, it can point to a lack of care, education, technological sophistication and attention to detail. This in turn can damage your credibility and your brand.
Becoming aware of the following rules and tips can help you avoid some common spelling errors frequently found in real estate copy:
Its/it’s: Do not add an apostrophe to a pronoun (examples of pronouns: my, your, her, his, their, its, our) to make it possessive. If you can substitute ‘it is’ with ‘s then you will know the apostrophe form is correct.
It’s hard to beat the spectacular views (You can say: It is hard to beat).
Its spectacular views are hard to beat (You can’t say: It is spectacular views).
Sort/Sought: Sort is a particular kind, description or variety that is distinct from something else. Sought is the past tense of seek – to try to find or obtain, to be desired or in demand.
It’s the sort of property that comes up once in a blue moon.
This property is located in a sought-after tree-lined street.
Luxurious/luxuriant: Luxuriant means abundant or rich and profuse in growth. Luxurious means extremely comfortable or elegant, especially when involving great expense.
The tanks provide an ample supply of water, producing acres of luxuriant gardens.
The bathroom is a luxurious pamper zone.
Effect/Affect: Affect is almost always used as a verb – it is an action word. To affect means to influence. Effect is most often used as a noun. It is a thing or event, usually used when talking about a result. An effect means an influence. To effect is to put into practice.
The view from the balcony will have a calming effect on you.
The law effected changes in the way properties can be advertised.
The 2017/18 budget will affect property investors.
The new light rail is certain to positively affect property prices in the suburb.
Lie/lay: To lie (lies, lay, has lain) means to recline; to lay(lays, laid, has laid) means to set down; to lie (lies, lied, has lied) means to fib.
Lie under the cool shady cabana between dips in the pool.
Lay your book and cuppa on top of the built-in window seat and enjoy the view.
Don’t believe the lies – the property market is stronger than ever.
Advise/advice: Advise is a verb. The verb to advise means to give advice or suggest what should be done. Advice is a noun. It means a suggestion for a beneficial course of action or an official notice concerning a business transaction.
Take our advice, move quickly or you will miss out on this property.
We advise you to move quickly on this one, before you miss out.
Accommodation: This word is one of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language and one that often appears incorrectly on ‘For Sale’ signs and in property ads. A mnemonic can be useful to help remember the spelling: “Crazy Calvin and Mad Maddie shared the accommodation”(double C, double M). Other commonly misspelled words include restaurant, maintenance, separate, vacuum and privilege.
If spelling is not your strong suit, you’re a ‘fat-finger’ typist, or you have too much to do, then consider engaging the help of others. Use a colleague’s second set of eyes to proofread your copy, or hire a copywriter who will do it for you. Alternatively, here are some DIY tips for ensuring you don’t miss any pesky errors in your copy:
- Use grammar and spell checkers.
- Print it and check it on paper.
- Take a break and return to it with fresh eyes.
- Read it out loud to yourself, or better still, use a text-to-speech app – hearing your document read to you is a great proofing technique.
- Read it backwards. It will make you read every word individually and the mistakes will jump out at you.
As tedious as it can be, spelling and grammar can have a direct impact on how your agency is perceived. Whether it’s potential buyers, or potential vendors checking out your listings to assess you as an agent, they are watching closely, and judging. Take heed, and you may just notice an increase in conversions.