top of page

15 Illegal Listing Descriptions

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Do not break the law when it comes to fair housing!

It is not just 'politically acceptable,' but it is also the law (and it is plain smart business) to describe a space in a way that appeals to all customers.

Phrases about the neighborhood

Many of these phrases appear in property descriptions as part of the overall picture of the area and the home's location.

1. "Great schools"

Even though you know you should not discuss about schools, this term still comes up regularly. You can include the distance to local schools if you want to discuss about closeness to local schools, but you should not make any claims or assumptions regarding the quality of the schools in the region.

2. "Safe neighborhood/quiet neighborhood"

You should not be making these claims because you do not have a basis for telling potential clients what kind of experience they will have in a neighborhood. Not only is this loaded from a Fair Housing standpoint; you should not be making these assertions because you do not have a basis for telling potential clients what kind of experience they will have in a neighborhood. Someone else's definition of safe or quiet may differ from yours. Furthermore, these are frequently employed as coded language to denote predominantly white, wealthy, or child-free communities.

3. "Nice neighbors"

Making assumptions about the neighbors might sometimes be deceptive and erroneous. When it comes down to it, you have no idea what the neighbors are like or how they will receive a newcomer to the area.

4. "Walking distance"

Walking distance can be deceiving or hazardous for persons who are older or have restricted mobility. Using Google Maps to provide fractional distance is significantly easier. For example, "Harris Teeter (0.2 mi), Food Lion (0.4 mi), and Freedom Park (0.6 mi) are all located near this amazing property.”

5. "Near churches"

What’s even worse than this is to describe a certain church as a local landmark, as it implies that the prospective buyer should not only attend church, but should also belong to a specific denomination.

Property-related phrases

These terms are frequently used in property descriptions to describe the layout or contents of a home.

6. "Master’s suite/bedroom/bathroom"

This is a statement that should be avoided for a variety of reasons, not least because it implies that the home's owner is or should be a guy. Consider the owner's suite/bedroom/bathroom or the primary suite/bedroom/bathroom instead.

7. "Great family home"

When marketing a property, many brokers instantly think of the traditional nuclear family. Buyers, on the other hand, come in all shapes and sizes, including singles, unmarried couples, childless by choice or not, retirees, and anyone who does not match the stereotype of a heterosexual married couple with two children from the mid-twentieth century.

It is disrespectful not just to state that a certain form of property is for families, but also to presume that a family must look a certain way or that some families are more legitimate than others.

8. "Great family room/playroom for the kids"

Similarly, an extra room should not be advertised as being suitable for families or children. It might work well as a video room, home office, hobby room, gathering spot, or party area.

9. "Private backyard for playtime with the kids"

A fenced backyard is not only suited for recreation with the kids because it can be enjoyed by those without children just as easily, and the property description should not make assumptions about the demographics of the people who will be living there.

10. "She-shed and man-cave"

A reference to a she-shed or man-cave can be off-putting – as well as wrong. A person who enjoys woodworking or watching football might be of either gender. A person who appreciates unwinding with a cup of tea in a lovely setting can be of any gender.

Making these kinds of artificial divisions is not only unneeded but is also short-sighted. A buyer who is interested in the property but is scared about having to make big adjustments to the décor to neutralize the space may be turned off by such a description.

Phrases about people

These expressions make explicit references to either the present owner, a possible buyer, or parts of identity.

11. "Handyman's special"

In addition to implying that the home is best suited for a man, it also implies that the buyer must be handy or experienced in home improvement and repair. This is foolish, as it may deter buyers who would be eager to fix up the house with the help of outside contractors.

12. "Fisherman’s/Hunter’s retreat"

There is also a hint that the buyer will be a man here. Furthermore, it implies that the buyer wants to fish and hunt, when several rural purchasers merely desire some acreage for homesteading, gardening, or quiet appreciation of nature. You risk alienating some conservation-minded purchasers by associating this type of property with hunting and fishing.

13. "Grandma's house"

This is a common term for a neat, orderly, and slightly out-of-date home. Apart from the fact that it may be off-putting to certain purchasers, it implies something about the seller's character, which may cause security issues or affect the bargaining process.

14. "Perfect for …"

This sentence usually always precedes a questionable assertion or recommendation. You do not have to specify who a home is ideal for. It is ideal for anyone who wants it and has the financial means to pay for it. That is the entire purpose of equitable housing.

15. Race, gender identity, sexuality, nationality, and cultural identity terms

Obviously, any word or phrase connected to any of these elements should be left out of your property descriptions.

The importance of a single point of view cannot be overstated. By making property descriptions more appealing to a wider range of potential purchasers, you create the conditions for truly equitable housing and a more joyful and meaningful home buying experience for everyone.

Have you ever used a term in a listing description that was not perceived in the way that you intended? Comment below or share with a colleague in one of our upcoming CE Classes!


Murdock, C. (2022, February 23). 15 ways your property descriptions may violate fair housing. Inman. Retrieved March 1, 2022.

3,825 views3 comments


John McNeill
John McNeill
Mar 02, 2022

What a crock! About all you've done here is to give me reason to 're-hash' all of the beloved terms. Your company should be called ''

John McNeill
John McNeill
Mar 02, 2022
Replying to

Maybe we should call it the ‘comrades suite’. I think I’m going to try to use all of these phrases in my next listing.! My theory is: if you are a crybaby, then I don’t want to deal with you anyway!

bottom of page