I look forward to Saturday mornings, the lie-in under the duvet, long black in hand, the cat sitting on the dresser, tail sweeping the china and that sense of virtue that I’ve been to pilates every morning this week and deserve to have time to do nothing.
My real treat is the weekend newspaper, served with just a sprinkling of news, like sesame seeds on a bagel, dropped between the advertisements. It’s the property section that I go for. I love a good laugh and the homes for sale stories never fail to deliver.
It’s not writing as in journalism, of course, just as Tony Blair’s memoir, “A Journey” is not biography but crime! It is grate journalism, advertorial, full blown spin.
The homes for sale feature writers have stretch and grow imaginations and a lexicon of ever ready descriptive clichés to turn reality into make believe. They take a leaf from the classic fictions created by legions of linguistically-challenged real estate agents who can at the press of a button download copycat phrases with www.thecopycat.com.au to reel in a discerning buyer. It’s a hoot. Here’s an example:
The Copy Cat Phrase Finder is a real estate copywriting tool that removes the burden of producing dynamic, creative copy for your real estate ads
THIS IS THE LIFE! It won’t be easy to click out of holiday mode in this stylishly contemporary residence for the modern pleasure-seeker.Cool, calm and sophisticated with a youthful edge, this functional home is enveloped in light and comfort. Crisp white walls, timber floors and high ceilings create a style as timeless as the sparkling ocean view. The calming sea vista, captured through the extensive use of glass, will help you forget your city stress. This house screams ‘designer’ and will reflect the personality and taste of those accustomed to the best in quality design, finishes and lifestyle
See earlier post: The Layman’s Lexicon to Real Estate Copywriting for help interpreting real estate house for sale writing. e.g.
Up-and-coming area – might not be horrible in a decade’s time
Increasingly popular area – horrible, but lots of people are as desperate as you
Great for young families – bare earth; school and playground should be finished by the time thee kids are at university if the developer gets his bridging funds
Popular area – you can’t afford to live here
Sought-after location – only rich migrants can afford to live here
Deceptively spacious – not spacious
Cosy, cute as a button – too small for your large screened tv
Perfectly sized – humans can barely fit in this. Fine for Hobbits
Bijou – humans cannot fit in this
Compact- cats cannot fit in this
Charming – doesn’t have stairs but extra pole
Quaint – doesn’t have windows or doors
Rustic- doesn’t have a roof
Indoor-outdoor flow – has front and back doors
Real life examples from the dancing fingers of the creative power house sales writer demonstrates how well they have honed their art and craft. Those opening gambits, generally recurring variations on a theme, are really captivating and you can follow them now with your handy lexicon.
- The Penny Dreadful: “Tim and Penny are selling their house because an opportunity arose to buy a unique home they had admired for many years. They’ll miss their house but are pleased to still be staying in Mt Eden. “It’s got everything you need for a family — I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else,” says Penny.” Really Penny? You are moving to a more expensive or cheaper house down the road.
- The community social responsibility and public good philanthropic seller who reluctantly realises that “now the family has flown the coop, it is time to move on and let another family pick up the mantle (piece?) of this splendid residence that has seen so many happy times.” Do you think I am stupid? You’re downsizing, divorcing, selling a deceased estate or retiring.
- The contented fellow who knows his place. “Meet Gerald, the homeowner. When Gerald puts his key into the lock and steps inside he knows he is home.” Good for you. That name and address tag safety-pinned to your jacket is working. Your wife will be pleased and you will move to that posher house in a better school zone near to the pilates studio.
I love the way the house for sale writer takes the ordinary and transports us to the extraordinary with enticing headlines and descriptions that ensure there is no place like home.
The house becomes not just a castle, but a costalotta, an Italianite, rococo revival, a Balinese resort away from it all, a tropical spa retreat with more hints of Bali (subdivision with palm trees), a private gated family compound (subdivision with lookalike housing), an adventure playground you’ll never have to leave (retirement village), a cliff top haven (for those aspiring to new heights), a modernist minimalist gem, a mid-century retro designer dream, a Scandi chic townhouse, mews, apartment, bijou, jewel or a stately manor, an executive home, a gentleman’s residence, a villa makeover that shouts “sophisticated synergy” and “a work of art”.
But some descriptions are simply not a patch on the real thing. This listing is for a gang headquarters.
This well-known property is set up for family and club gatherings but could be converted back to its former glory. The brightly coloured fences provide privacy and security and the large section with mature trees provide shelter where friends and family can gather for social occasions. There is ample off-street parking. Ignore its colourful history; this property is in need of an urgent sale. The home has three double bedrooms, a laundry, bathroom, standard kitchen and lounge that is heated by a fire unit. It is, however, in need of a “little TLC”.
I wonder if that’s any more misleading than what “sophisticated synergy” looks like when it is for sale.
Taste is subjective but letting loose with no taste, tips from house makeover tv contests and a free app from the local DIY, instant kitchen, bathroom and paving retail chain will kill the villa or at least leave it dieing.
How can anyone subjugate a wooden villa, the kitset, lace trimmed, lead lighted, character houses of Edwardian days into marvels of blinding blandness and acres of sterile white on white in homage to operating theatres. It’s renovation by anaesthesia! If only city hall officers and planners were as voracious in tackling heritage wreckers instead of hapless carparkers.
I look at the blanding of suburbs and maiming of heritage houses not as a tribute to indoor outdoor flow but as vandalism by the desperate to own a house at any price newlywed with unfortunately a nearly dead conformity in their complete lack of respect or empathy for the products they have purchased.
If they want an apartment buy one.
If they want Scandinavian minimalism get a good architect and build it.
If they believe there is no such thing as less, live your own fantasy and find a carpotect.
But why butcher a villa and leave it with an identity crisis for a new generation of homeowners to work out what ‘sophisticated synergy’ meant.
New Zealand is a little country with little history and little taste, a love of quick fixes and short cuts – better known as DIY or number 8 wire innovation. Cheap is good.
We have so little left of any architectural merit and easily tear down the old and classic with reckless disregard, especially if it really needs TLC and sympathetic and often expensive restoration like Canterbury cathedral. Imagine Britain if a brash Kiwi had been in charge of rebuilding after WWII.
We replace history, heritage and beauty with works of singular vulgarity or ugliness.
We stick a container, a bungalow or a barn on on top of a tall building or important public building and say it reflects our character. We opt for the quirky like the Beehive, a cruel joke for a parliament house and window cleaners, or put up the Vero Tower in Auckland city where the architect forgot to put the toilet seat down when he’d finished.
No wonder architects and builders seldom advertise that they are the ones on the job at construction sites. They need to be named – and shamed – and for that matter we should name and praise those rare instances of projects that are jewels of urban renewal, regeneration and genius .
Meanwhile I’ll just settle on a designer home.
Better home and living everyone