Zillow came out with another one of their bizarre real estate analyses a couple of weeks ago. This one focuses on listing descriptions and concludes that just getting a couple of the right words into the description can increase the selling price of the home by up to 29%. Wow! If only it were that easy - as easy as determining the value of your home.
They published their results in a couple of different places on their Web site. A provocative article appears on their research page:
Lucrative Listing Descriptions: The Surprise Features to Stress When Selling and claims, among other things, "Of all homes listed for sale on Zillow between 2016 and 2017, those mentioning “steam shower” in their listing descriptions earned their sellers a 29 percent higher sale price than listings that didn’t mention it, the highest premium among more than 100 listing terms analyzed by Zillow." Then they also have a press release that shows a list of all the key words for which they found a significant impact. In that release they claim "when it's time to sell, being specific and strategic with your home's listing description can have a big financial payoff." For instance, they claim that mentioning a pet shower can raise the value of your home by 25%.
So I if I put a shower head on the end of a hose in my garage and a drain in the floor I can increase the value of my home by 25%? That's what they are basically saying. I'm calling a plumber!
These articles were either written by unsupervised interns or intentionally written as click bait. It's absurd to believe that just a few keywords can make that much difference in the sales price of a home. What is really going on here is that higher end homes tend to have these features and therefore you will find these keywords in the listing descriptions. It's the old "correlation does not imply causation" mantra.
Of course, if a home actually has some key high end features it's important that they be mentioned in the listing. Better written descriptions generate more traffic and eventually position the home seller for a better sale price. But if you have two identical homes it's not likely that one will sell for 29% more just because it has a few extra keywords.
So wait a second...if these descriptions can influence the sales price of a home by up to 29% then how does the Zestimate take that into account in determining a home's value? Must be magic.
Gary Lucido is the President of Lucid Realty, the Chicago area's full service discount real estate brokerage. If you want to keep up to date on the Chicago real estate market, get an insider's view of the seamy underbelly of the real estate industry, or you just think he's the next Kurt Vonnegut you can Subscribe to Getting Real by Email using the form below. Please be sure to verify your email address when you receive the verification notice.