Words matter, too, when it comes to real estate listings.

By Sarah Yang
Updated April 12, 2016

If you’re putting your house on the market, not only will you want to make sure it looks good enough to score the best sale, but you may also want to keep a close eye on its real estate description. A new analysis from Zillow Digs shows that certain keywords in a listing can help houses to sell faster and for a higher price. “When it comes to real estate listing descriptions—words matter,” Dr. Svenja Gdudell, Zillow chief economist, said in a statement. “Your listing description is an opportunity to highlight specific details and finishes that might not be visible in photos.”

Zillow Digs looked at the listings of 2.8 million U.S. home sales between January 2014 and March 2016, while accounting for property age and size, time of year, and market region. Researchers analyzed 60 specific keywords that described certain design features and amenities and whether their inclusion in the home’s listing affected the sale price. From the the analysis, the team at Zillow found that Craftsman-style keywords in listings were both popular and more lucrative—“barn doors” helped to raise a home’s price by 13 percent and sell 57 days faster, “shaker cabinets” upped the price by 9.6 percent and sell 45 days faster, and “farmhouse sink” elevated the value by 7.9 percent and sold 58 days faster. The team also found that “Craftsman-style” homes do better than any other design style.

While it might not be possible to transform your Spanish Colonial Revival-style home into a Craftsman-style one, the other findings can be a guide for any renovation projects you decide to undertake before putting your home on the market. For example, the terms “subway tile,” “pendant light,” “heated floors,” and “granite” were also found to be popular listing terms. The team saw that compared to the term “new carpet,” listings with “hardwood floors” sold for two percent more than the expected value.

To optimize your home’s listing description, the experts at Zillow have a few extra tips in addition to highlighting desirable amenities and design styles. They recommend keeping location in mind when calling out certain terms; for example, in colder climates heated floors are more important, while outdoor kitchens might be more prevalent and sought-after in warmer climates. You can also use flattering adjectives—words like “luxurious” and “captivating” can add 5-8 percent more to your home’s value. They’ve also found that words with longer descriptions sell for more as well. You’ll want to work with your real estate agent, who should be an expert in the local area and know what kind of language will attract buyers.

Below, take a look at the top listing keywords from the analysis and its effects—what percent it can sell above the expected price and how much faster:

  • Barn Door: 13.4%; 57 days
  • Shaker Cabinet: 9.6%; 45 days
  • Farmhouse Sink: 7.9%; 58 days
  • Subway Tile: 6.9%; 63 days
  • Quartz: 6%; 50 days
  • Craftsman: 5.4%; 14 days
  • Exposed Brick: 4.9%; 36 days
  • Pendant Light: 4.6%; 48 days
  • Frameless Shower: 4.6%; 38 days
  • Heated Floors: 4.3%; 28 days
  • Stainless Steel: 4.2%; 42 days
  • Granite: 4.1%; 38 days
  • Backsplash: 4.1%; 46 days
  • Tankless Water Heater: 4%; 43 days
  • Outdoor Kitchen: 3.7%; 19 days

For more real estate tips, take a look at 10 quick fixes to boost your home's curb appeal.