Monday, May 28, 2007

WORDS that sell

If you follow politics or any other marketing-based hogwash closely enough you'll invariably notice that words tend to lose their meanings in short order. CondoHype has a whole blog dedicated to picking apart the Vancouver condo marketing paradigm. I know very little about the person behind the machine, but I can only assume there is a disgruntled writer/wordsmith in there somewhere.

This post is dedicated to the misconstrued meanings that have really come to the forefront during this last few months of crazy real estate marketing times. I truly believe that a year or two ago, homes did sell themselves. I remember being at a party where a good friend of mine announced he and his wife had just bought their first home. They paid $5K more than list on the advice of their realtor because it was the house for them and there were multiple offers in on the first day. Another mutual friend, a RE appraiser at the time, laughed at them. A deep belly, open in-your-face type of laugh. It wasn't pleasant to witness this. It was funny though when those two had the talk about how the owner made 90% in two years when he sold that house.

But those times are over. Very few places have multiple offers on opening day. There's a lot more choice now. So RE marketers have to get creative to convince potential buyers to come check out their wares. Fair enough.

In that light, We present our list of favourite words and their new meanings as told to use by those said RE marketing pros:
  1. Open-Concept: My dad has open concept kitchen, dining room and living rooms. They total over 1000 SF. Now we see open concept used to describe one room that happens to serve three purposes, usually kitchen, living and dining. We used to call that small.
  2. Penthouse: once reserved for the uber-rich, now to be had by the first time buyer. If you're old enough to remember that classic 70s/80s show that made the catch phrase "what chew talkin' 'bout, Willis?" standard playground speak, you'll remember what a penthouse suite should be: one that comes with a cook and a butler downtown and is bigger than your house in suburbia. Apparently penthouse now means top floor 800 SF condo on Balmoral.
  3. Charming: can a house charm you? I know I've been in some houses that are attractive. Heck, I've even been in some condos that are well-appointed and nicely decorated. But doesn't charming require an interaction? Maybe the RE agent meant to say: "let me show you this property and I'll charm you into buying it"?
  4. Character: I could be wrong, but I always thought character meant a property that was built at a time long ago, say turn of the century or so, that uses techniques and products that are simply not available or duplicated anymore. Apparently a character home/suite now means it has wood in it somewhere.
  5. Harbour/Mountain Glimpses: I guess anyone in this town can make that claim. I mean you can pretty much stand on any property, on a clear day, and if the wind is blowing hard enough, and your neighbour's property leans far enough in said wind, there's a good chance you'll catch a glimpse of a harbour, or a mountain or maybe a tree. Whatever the case, it's a view, in a glimpse.
  6. Luxury: My favourite over-used de-legitimized word. You pay for luxury. Luxury makes you feel luxurious. I've stayed in some nice hotels. I've worked in "luxury hotels". Luxury hotels have cornered the market in making people feel luxurious. Even the guests that aren't staying in the big rooms with the harbour views. How do they do this? By treating them the same as the guest who is staying in the penthouse harbour view suite complete with butler. OK, well almost the same treatment anyway. It seems as though developers have caught this train too. Seems if you use stainless appliances (it doesn't matter that they're Kenmore brand and not Wolfe), install wood floors (apparently laminate now counts as wood), paint in "modern" colours and actually use anything other than melamine as a counter top, you can claim the "luxury" descriptor for your property. Square footage, location and actual luxury items are irrelevant in this day and age. Apparently my generation has an issue with saving and obtaining luxury status later in years; we want it all, we want it now, and we want it in Quadra Village.
What are some of the words you've seen used and abused?


VREB said...

The word "village", as applied to clusters of merchants and services near residential areas. In this town, EVERYTHING is a "village" - Quadra Village, Cook Street Village, Cadboro Bay Village, Oak Bay Village - it's getting repetitive, tacky and nauseating. Besides, in a village I expect to see shepherds with ewes in tow, itinorant tinkers and wandering friars, not Boomers swilling Starbuck's prior to a visit to the spa followed by a stop at the oh-so-chic patisserie...

Prairieboy said...

How about "Perfect for starter or investor!"

I'm lovin' it!

Prairieboy said...

Oh yeah!


Mr. Mookie said...

My rental is up for sale, and is described on the MLS as a 'character' house with city and mountain views. It's a 1964 rancher special, with features such as a faux plank wall in the livingroom (the same style that you find in nearly every house trailer). There is absolutley NO mountains to be seen from any window, not even when 100km/hr winds have bent back the ugly wall of tattered 2nd growth douglas fur to expose what's beyond them. Perhaps the 'distant city view' is that of my neighbour's house that has a Vancouver Canucks giant beach towel as a livingroom curtain.

So, listing a house as 'character' to me reads as 'absolutely NO ubdates whatsoever'.

House Frau said...

I once saw a house for sale in a Toronto paper and after giving the size bedrooms and bathrooms it just said "double sink in kitchen". That is pretty sad.

Anonymous said...

They are even making up words.

I saw the word "Plantastic" on a real estate sign down on Cook Street the other day.

I thought it was trying to say that the yard had a lot of plants. I now think they were trying to say something about the floor plan.


greg said...

These are some of my favourites...

Investor Alert! ('cause it's an obvious investment - NOT)

Wanted: creative buyer!

- 'cause you'll have to use your imagination to think this is a good idea.

Offered for quick sale!

- as opposed to, what?

Nothing to do, just move in!

- Wow, so, like, for $650,000 we are getting a house we don't have to tear down, and the roof doesn't leak? Wow!

Victoria real estate hype. I love it!

condohype said...

Who you callin' disgruntled? :)

StargazerXL said...

How about "affordable?" :-)

Anonymous said...

Bank of Canada has not raised the interest rate. It stays the same.


hhv said...

If you look at mortgage rates lately, they've been climbing. The BoC rate isn't really attached to the mortgage rates. Expect those to go up again in short order.

CondoHype: maybe disgruntled was a poor choice of words on my part? :) I don't have near the wit or vocabulary you manage to use.

VG said...

RBC just upped their mortgage rates.

As per the advertising it is getting nauseating. Some of the lingo they are stooping to is quite pathetic,the pictures too trying to capture the image thing is now looking more like a photo contest than trying to sell condos. Funny part is when you get down to the prices and square footage you have to squint to read it. At least old guys like me do. :)

Anonymous said...

I got the following email about gas price. Anybody can do the same with the house market?

2007 War on Gas - This is No Joke

Now this makes more sense that just not buying gas on one day...cuz what we don't buy that day we will buy the day before or the day after...

War on Gas

This was originally sent by a retired Coca Cola executive. It came from one of his engineer buddies who retired from Halliburton. It's worthy of our consideration.

Join the resistance! I hear we are going to hit close to $1.50 a litre by summer and it might possibly go higher! Want gasoline prices to Come Down?

We need to take some intelligent, united action. Phillip Hollsworth Offered this good idea.
This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the "don't buy gas on a certain day" campaign that was going around earlier! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to "hurt" ourselves by refusing to buy gas. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them.
BUT, whoever thought of this idea has come up with a plan that can really work. Please read on and join with us! By now you're probably thinking gasoline priced at about $.79/litre is super cheap. Me too!

It is currently $1.10 for regular unleaded in my town. Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a litre of gas is CHEAP at $.79 - $.99, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the marketplace..... Not sellers. With the price of gasoline going up more each day, we consumers need to take action.

The only way we are going to see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not purchasing their gas! And, we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How? Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price war.

Here's the idea:
Starting June 1 of 2007 DON'T purchase ANY gasoline from the biggest Company in Canada. Petro Canada! If they are not selling any gas, they will be very quickly inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. Think about this. Petro Canada has 1500 retail locations and the entire country consumes 68 million gallons a day. Yes per day. And Petro Canada is Canada's largest gasoline retailer, doesn't it make sense that the consumer can bring this giant to its knees and force them to lower their prices.

But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of Petro Canada gas buyers. It's really simple to do! Now, don't wimp out at this point keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people.

I am sending this note to 30 people. If each of us sends it to at least more (300 x 10 = 3,000)...and so on, by the time the message reaches the sixth group of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION consumers.

If those three million pass it on to ten friends each, then 30 million people!! (If you don't understand how we can reach 30 million and all you have to do is send this to 10 people....

How long would all that take? If each of us sends this e-mail out to ten more people within one day of receipt, all 30 MILLION people could conceivably see this within the next 8 days!!!

Acting together we can make a difference. If this makes sense to you, Please pass this message on. I suggest that we not buy from Petro Canada UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO A REASONABLE PRICE AND KEEP THEM DOWN.

Anonymous said...

Lots of people on the bear site I go on jumped on this gas prices announcement. When I told them why if they are willing to do it for gas then why not house prices. The response was silence.


VG said...

Thats too funny S2, they probably spend more on lattes in a week than they do on any gas hike,lol.

Someone should start a "Don't Buy A House or Condo Month " campaign, one month of no buyers would knock these prices down in a hurry....and then Rennie would be looking to sue your ass off,LOL.

Anonymous said...

Who here lives in a 600 Sq Ft condo ?
I am interested to see as I did so for a year and I barely made it,when my girlfriend came over and then a couple friends it was totally claustrophobic. It was a top of the line place to,latest fixtures,appliances etc.

Since all these so called experts are saying condos are the way you have to go, I bet 99% of them have never lived in a space that small and couldn't if they had to. Paying $300,000 -$400,000 for what is virtally a prison cell with some nice deco makes me think there will be many in the next year or so just itching to sell and move to something more spacious and the market will be flooded with regretters. This whole living in a shoebox is an Asian influence designed to make us accept someone elses way of living at the profit of developers plain and simple.
So speak up,who lives in 600 Sq ft condo that you paid top buck for and do you love the tiny space or hate it ?

Anonymous said...

How's this: "decorator-upper"
MLS®: 224346 @ $939,000
"Wonderful water views of Cordova Bay from this massive "decorator-upper" ...
Heh, further on in the advertisement:
"BUYER to verify measurements and details if important to the BUYER."
Who else would the details be important to?? WTF does the Realtor do for their $$$ ?

VG said...

A couple of anectdotal stories, heard of two couples who have recently bought and are both showing signs of sress in their first 2 months,one couple hasn't even moved in and they don't know how they are going to pay the first months mortgage as the tennant in the suite moved out at the last minute,the other couple is quickly waking up to the reality that paying double your rent isnt such a fun experience afterall. I can only imagine that there are many more like them out there having second thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I just saw in an ad "trendy Quadra village". What?


VG said...

Interesting article (but a warning it is a bit tedious to read in spots,think its that England english, blimey ! :) ).

The big UK/European banks are in actual "prepare for the credit crash mode" for all sorts of big businesses as well as M&A's that didn't pan out a year or more in advance has to tell ya this house of cards is going to end in a very very ugly manner over the next 2 years. If it happens over there it will be here as well.

Looming Crash Prompts Jump in Distressed Debt Hiring (Update1)

greg said...

I posted this link on my own site a couple days ago, but click on the link and look at the size of insider sales as opposed to buys, even as the stock markets continue to trade higher.

The retail investors are getting suckered again, 2000 tech stock crash, what's that?

MSN Insider Trade Summary.