A strong market means homes with more sun and more views—that is, if you are going by real-estate listings.
During strong market cycles, agents tend to reference lifestyle features, including sunshine, entertainment and views, more frequently in their listings than during slow periods, says Kirsten Robertson, senior lecturer in marketing at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, who researched language in residential property listings.
About 55% of the listings she studied mentioned sunshine and 42% referenced views during a buoyant market, compared with 41% that referenced sunshine and 26% that referenced views during a slow market.
Because a home’s exposure to the sun and its views aren’t things that change, the listings demonstrate that agents are homing in on different elements depending on market strength, Prof. Robertson says. That, in turn, may affect how people see the housing market as a whole. “All the language they use will influence how people will feel about a property,” she says.
Prof. Robertson and co-author Antony Doig of the University of Otago, working with experts in linguistics, examined 965 residential listings from 2001 to 2008 in Dunedin, New Zealand. They categorized the years 2002 through 2007 as buoyant market cycles, and 2001 and 2008 as slow market cycles. They then coded the listings for 13 variables, including references to emotive language, good value and sunshine; adjectives such as “bright” and “capacious” and adverbs such as “effortlessly” and “generously.” The study, “An Empirical Investigation of Variations in Real-Estate Marketing Language over a Market Cycle,” was published in Housing, Theory and Society in June 2010.
In a buoyant market, listings also were more attention-grabbing—using so-called intensifying words such as “totally,” “ultra” and “absolutely”—and more frequently referred to “you.”
During a slower market, listings included references to “cheap” and “value” and included more emotive language to entice people to buy.
Agents also stressed that the market was a “buyers’ market” in slow periods—using terms such as “desperate” and “has to go”—to coerce people to buy, Prof. Robertson adds. Agents referenced “sellers’ market” during strong cycles, with phrases such as “not going to last” and “will sell,” to draw more people to a listing. “The more competition they got, the higher the final offer will be,” she says.