Written copy describing the features of properties range from point-form, almost “hostage-letter”-style writing, to emotion-filled, detailed, and flowery listings which border on prose. The goal, always, is to captivate and tantalize buyers, making them add the property to their “must-see” list.
Realtors have also long been advocates of hiring professional voices to “sell” their copy — whether it be in the form of a “talking house” automated telephone line on which buyers listen to a pre-recorded message to learn more about a given property (the number is usually posted right on the “For Sale” sign outside the property or in a print listing), streaming audio on various MLS-linked websites, or on actual TV channels devoted to featuring Real Estate listings around the clock — the use for professional talent in the arena of real estate advertising is an on-going and constant requirement. It’s a great time-saver for Realtors, who (like all of us) have limited hours in the day (although most of them do their best to stretch that workday) and have a finite amount of energy: having an automated description which play at any time of the day or night to a limitless number of people is an invaluable tool. (And if it’s done in a professional, warm, engaging tone, all the better.)
Conservatively speaking, I’ve voiced several thousands of house descriptions for real estate markets across North America — I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve uttered the phrase: “Location, Location, Location!” The properties have ranged from opulent luxury (I voice a lot of listings for the upscale exclusive enclave of Moon Valley, in Phoenix) to gritty, inner-city fixer-uppers — all markets can benefit from a personalized “tour” of the home.
Being a bit of a “house nut” myself, I always try to visualize an actual floor plan in my head of the house description I’m voicing — I love giving special treatment to details like: “18 foot vaulted ceilings”, “travertine tile flooring” “newly remodeled kitchen with stainless steel appliances” and my excitement is almost palpable as I describe aspects like “marble steps leading up to a spacious jetted tub”.
I’ve learned, additionally, that there can be a significant amount of “code words” — probably well-known in the Real Estate industry — which might save you a trip from seeing a property which clearly won’t fit your needs.
Watch out for the following:
1. “A Real Fixer-Upper”
Code for: “It’s been cleared for habitation again!” Visions of workers in hazmat suits clearing out the remnants of a fully-equipped Meth Kitchen come to mind. Or perhaps, several dumpsters have been filled with the spoils of an out-of control hoarder, and it’s now ready for your love, care, and attention. Whatever circumstances have led up to the “fixer Upper” designation, tread warily and ask the right questions. No, in today’s sociological climate, it’s *not* out of line to ask your Realtor if there has been a history of a grow op or Meth Factory operating out of the house. It speaks to the toxicity and general safety of the dwelling, and it would be prudent to at least investigate into the possibility. As well, Realtors are not legally obligated to disclose (and yet are obligated to answer truthfully if asked) if a death has occurred in the house — another question I might be inclined to ask, if for no other reason, but to keep my own wim-wam quotient low.
2. “…..in a growing, up-and-coming neighborhood!”
Just follow the sounds of a bulldozer to locate your future creampuff, and be prepared to follow a plywood “gang plank” to the front door — and look at the mountains of soil for the kids to play in! Newness can be a great thing — and there’s nothing quite like having the artistic controls over a home that’s being built to your specs. But if you encounter adjectives like “burgeoning” “growing” or “developing” to describe a prospective neighborhood, be prepared for the detritus that goes along with it: dust, dirt, construction noise, and an undeniable “featureless” homogeny that accompanies a neighborhood until years later, when it develops an identity and personality.
3. “…..this historic home needs your touch!”
…and mounds and mounds of your money. Everyone loves a beautifully-restored vintage house, updated skillfully and tastefully. Practically no one anticipates what a financial commitment it will be to get it to a level which is livable and up to code (at the very minimum) and to take it further — comfortable and aesthetically pleasing; workable to your modern standards and yet still paying homage to its roots, structure, and historical intentions. Do some research of similarly-restored properties in the area and get a clear idea of what you can expect to part with financially and emotionally.
It’s small, folks. They can conjure images of curling up in front of the “sweetest little fireplace you’ve ever seen!” with your mug of tea and a good book — but it’s quite possible that “curling up” may the only workable position to maneuver around the place. Decide how much living space you need — and don’t fall for adorable, diminutive descriptors unless all you want is a rambling 750 square feet in which to contort yourself.
Next week: I’ll tackle the conundrum about agents — specifically those who are in the position to procure work for voice talent. If you’re a voice talent who feels lost in the sea of hundreds of other talent submitting auditions and you’re just not seeing results — you’re not alone. I’ll try my best to explain why this happens, and why — if you’re like me — agents may not be the best fit for you.
Thanks for reading!