5BR, 4BA, 487 Characters

June 11, 2013

A Zillow analysis of all active real estate listings as of April 4 reveals that agents write lengthier descriptions for more upscale properties.

The study found that property descriptions for homes under $100,000 used a median of 250 characters, compared to a median of 487 characters for houses priced higher than $1 million.

Zillow chief economist Stan Humphries explains, "Generally, what you find is that regardless of the region, the more expensive the home is, the more characters are used to describe that home."

Jeff Burns of Royal Shell Real Estate in Florida says lower-end properties have less square footage and fewer features, translating into shorter remarks because there is less to describe. However, College of William & Mary real estate professor Michael Seiler says 41.5 percent of buyers do not read remarks -- although once they narrow down the list of possibilities, the remarks gain importance.

While some real estate agents abbreviate certain features, University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Liberman cautions against too much shortening as it can confuse readers, adding that some might think a brief description or a lack of adjectives means the home has problems.

Source: "Fancy Real-Estate Listing, Fancier Verbiage," Wall Street Journal (06/07/13)

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