Quinte, On. real estate agent: Puffery in Real Estate

Puffery in Real Estate


Some things just go without saying.

Who would have known that coconuts are wonderful in coconut cream pie?

Perhaps if the person at the grocery store who is responsible for writing the little blurbs about the fruits and veggies had been a real estate agent s/he would have come up with something a little more exotic than this description.

Puffery. We see that a lot in this business. A rat infested tear-down becomes a "handyman's dream". A house backing on to the highway will be described as "conveniently located". Some agents go so far as to categorize homes with a small creek in the backyard as "waterfront properties". These are common practices in the real estate industry, and most people reading the blurbs aren't fooled by them. The public at large has become quite sceptical about what they read in real estate publications and online forums.

It's a shame really. A listing agent's job is to highlight the positives of a property and downplay the negatives, so there might be some omissions in the descriptions that the public reads, but we have reached a point where some of the listings out there are downright deceptive. Occasionally I will come across a listing that is refreshingly honest, and I silently applaud the listing agent. I also believe that an honest description of a listing is actually a service to the sellers as it weeds out the people who would obviously be disappointed when they come to see it in person. Some listings that I see would almost be referred to as a "bait and switch" in any other industry.

Some homes will be harder to sell than others. Thems the breaks. Baiting people into coming and seeing your listing under false pretenses is a waste of everybody's time and only serves to get people's hopes up. As an industry, we should try to tone down the puffery a bit, at least to an acceptable level.

Coconuts - wonderful for hammering nails. 



Comment balloon 12 commentsMalcolm Johnston • April 14 2011 03:11PM


Actually this coconut in "stating the obvious" actually helps the potential seller. They are showing the benefits of the product - that is what we need to do in RE, too.

Posted by MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty) about 9 years ago

You are right, we are a creative bunch. My favorite is "Cozy" which really means "teeny tiny",

Posted by Ellie McIntire, Luxury service in Howard County & Catonsville (Ellicott City Clarksville Howard County Maryland Real Estate) about 9 years ago

Hi Malcolm,

great topic and post, this extends to pictures, video and measurements as wee

this week we had an out of town inquiry, for a big house, and we checked it out for our buyers.....

great house great quality, everything cool except for one minor issue at nearly $1,500,000 we expected some privacy not a house next door that looks down an into 2 bedroom, the kitchen, the great room and all of the backyard........

Why not show this, it is not like a buyer is not going to find out...........Thanks for sharing

Posted by Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986., Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490 (eXp Realty, Victoria BC www.pfanntastic.com) about 9 years ago

Malcolm,  I love the term puffery and the fact that Real Estate is the only industry with a term that promotes fabrication of the truth for our advantage.  Frankly I prefer Storyteller Marketing.  Tell the real story of a home and have it correctly priced and it will sell.  No BS.

Posted by Larry Lawfer, "I listen for a living." It's all about you. (YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited®) about 9 years ago

Malcolm, what a great post that all agents should read.  There are so many times I show a property and the client is disappointed because the verbiage/description is so misleading.  --Krystal

Posted by Krystal Knott, Breckenridge CO Real Estate & All Summit County CO (LIV Sotheby's International Realty) about 9 years ago

I agree Michelle, we need to assist potential buyers, not try to trick them.

 Lol Ellie, I have seen that term used often. I have even seen someone use Doll's house.

Peter and Linda, yes, buyers will find out anyway, why waste everyone's time.

Larry, I also love that term, and I like showing something to its best advantage, but I've seen some things that verge on deception.

Krystal, yes "misleading" is a great word for what goes on a lot.




Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) about 9 years ago

Hi Malcolm.

Anything to boost the sells...Creative words do magic...

Have a nice day.

Posted by Joshua Zargari, MJ Decorators Workshop (MJ Decorators Workshop LI staging and home decorating) about 9 years ago

Malcolm, I prefer to think that some Realtors talk in code LOL. They remind me of hyped up movie trailers.

Posted by Janice Ankrett, Staging Professional (Janice Ankrett Home Staging) about 9 years ago


If the people come expecting waterfront property, then they are really going to be annoyed.


Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) about 9 years ago

Malcolm, I am finding the same experience with the picture taken, so much so, that now, if I see that some areas are not photographed, I become immediately suspicious...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) about 9 years ago

Malcolm, puffery is here to stay. It appears we cannot live without it. A plain ranch is a California Bungalow, and a cozy means cramped, and on and on we go.

Great post.

Posted by Charles Edwards Bentonville, AR REALTOR, Bentonville Real Estate Agent and Broker (Coldwell Banker Harris McHaney & Faucette 479-253-3796 ) about 9 years ago

It really isn't helpful when the description doesn't fit the house when we get there - it is a total waste of everyone's time!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) about 9 years ago