Sexy! Fetching!! Fabulous!!!

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By Elizabeth Festa
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, December 2, 2006

Maybe all you're looking for in a house is four bedrooms and a garage, with a sound roof at the right price. Plenty of people would like to sell you one.

But perhaps you need a little more glamour in that open-house listing to get you motivated. Why not go see the house with the turret retreat, where you can write "the Great American Novel . . . or smoke the forbidden stogie," as one real estate broker recently described an attic?

If you're feeling literary, but not on so grand a scale, take the opportunity to seek out "simple living a la Henry Thoreau" -- in a Washington condo.

Will a "tailored" front patio provide your home -- and your new life there -- with proper manners? Perhaps a "garden wonderland" in back will finally allow you to let your imagination take flight.

Or you can find a home "Under the Tuscan Sun." All you need to do is hop in the car and drive to Washington, not Italy, to see that "sun-drenched" wonder for yourself.

Or so the real estate agents hope.

Brokers who write the blurbs for property listings are trying to lure you in with their ads and fliers, a task made more challenging in a market where houses can sit unsold for weeks, despite price reductions and rebates.

It is difficult to assess whether writing has turned more fanciful as the market has slowed this year, but "it certainly wouldn't surprise me," said Joel Kuipers, an anthropology professor at George Washington University. "When social and economic conditions change, language can change."

"All you can predict is that the language might change. It doesn't necessarily become more ornate. It can become more direct and hard-hitting and move toward a harder sell," he said.

Aggressive language is appearing more as the market has cooled, according to agent Frank Borges LLosa, founder of three-year-old FranklyRealty.com, which specializes in the Northern Virginia real estate market.

"I work more with buyers, so I look for trigger words like 'bring all offers' and 'motivated sellers,' " LLosa said. "I also hesitate when I see a listing with a ton of exclamation points, as they tend to exaggerate the features of the house, but on the other hand, it can show another sign of desperation and an openness to a lower offer."

Price and location still influence people the most, agents say, but many think descriptive words can attract potential buyers and create images of a desired home.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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