$3.5 Million Typos? Please stop.

Typos are everywhere. They show up in the NY TIMES, text books, public signage, government forms, and in advertising copy.

In the TIMES, I get it – they publish many thousands of words every day. A couple of glitches here and there are to be expected. It’s actually impressive that there aren’t MORE. In text books, typos aren’t cool. Kids are trying to learn, and if you make them learn from flawed materials, you risk confusion and misunderstanding.

In public signage, it’s easy to see how bureaucracy and lack of attention may result in the occasional mistake. Likewise on a government form.

When it comes to display advertising, which is NOT CHEAP, there is almost no excuse for such mistakes. With so many writers, editors, designers, proof readers, printers and publishers in the mix, it is pretty galling that typos make their way in to $100,000 ads in newspapers and magazines, and sometimes on to billboards and signage.

But there is a special class of typo that has really been bugging me lately. Call it the $3.5 million typo. Here in Los Angeles, real estate is expensive. Houses for sale are listed on the Multiple Listing Service. This is an online repository of information on properties available for purchase in the city.

So, here’s my issue…if you are a realtor, and someone entrusts you to sell what is most likely their most valuable asset – in many cases a home worth several MILLION dollars – could you please, please, please pay a little bit of attention to the 40-word blurb you publish to describe this house.

That room with all the nice cabinetry and coat hangers is a Walk-In Closet, not a Walking Closet. That lovely metal gate is Wrought Iron, not Rod Iron. That cute little street is a Cul De Sac, not a Coldysac. And do you have to declare that the house was remod’ld? For $4 million, this is not Wheel of Fortune, and your prospective buyers shouldn’t have to BUY THEIR OWN VOWELS. The Internet is NOT going to run out of space if you spell out “Formal Dining Room” and “Hardwood Floors.”

Because of my aversion to typos, I would generally avoid buying a can of peaches if its label featured a single typo. Sloppiness in writing belies carelessness, and I don’t want to feed my family food that has been packed by a careless organization. Most marketers know that the purchasing decision is a complicated one, and the good marketers do everything in their power to make it smooth and painless.

In today’s dismal real estate market, real estate sales professionals would do well to consider these facts, and then make the necessary effort to become typo-free, and reader-friendly in all of their advertising and promotion. I, for one, will be much more likely to buy that house you’re trying to sell.

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3 Responses to “$3.5 Million Typos? Please stop.”

  1. Chris Moran says:

    Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. Phyllis Harb says:

    Great post!!! And most of the MLS systems allow us (Realtors) the opportunity for spell check.

  3. [...] to take Realtors to task for their questionable use of language and syntax.  It’s worth a read.  Here’s an excerpt: “But there is a special class of typo that has really been [...]

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