Real Estate and Life in Colorado and Beyond

How Suite! Pandering in Luxury Listings

A lot of enormously wealthy people read this monthly blog.  Land developers, tech entrepreneurs, captains of industry.  Movie producers, best-selling authors, swashbuckling gamblers of all stripes.  Professional athletes, mega-stars of stage and screen…

None of that is true.  But in case a few rich folks have wandered in, I will begin with this apology.

I apologize for the way we have been treating you.  By “we,” I mean real estate agents, like me, who aspire to represent high rollers, like you, as buyers and sellers of residential properties.

By “treating you,” I allude to the pandering and patronizing insults to your intelligence found in property listing descriptions like this one:

This stunning property boasts timeless luxury and elegance, offering the ultimate in comfort and style. Step inside and be wowed by the grand foyer, complete with soaring ceilings and sweeping staircases. Retreat from the gourmet kitchen to your luxurious master suite with a spa-like en suite bathroom, featuring a deep soaking tub and self-indulgent steam shower. Outdoors, the massive deck is perfect for al fresco dining.

This is actually a composite; a representation of many sycophantic listings I’ve run across over the years.  Created with help from Chat GPT, it repeats some of worst cliches in luxury listings.

  • In some, every room seems to be “suite,” from the exercise suite to the au pair suite.
  • En suite” suggests luxury. But it refers simply to a bathroom dedicated to one bedroom.
  • Al fresco dining is eating outdoors.
  • The gourmet kitchen, the timeless elegance, and all that soaring and sweeping, are exhausting.

“Luxury” itself is an obsolete term with little relation to reality. Listing agents seem to imagine fat, contented homeowners lounging in repose in their fireplace suites, sipping brandy and puffing on cigars.

“We’re living in luxury now.”

Nobody thinks about their home that way. Virtually no one connects emotionally to the notion of luxury.  Even the best-heeled buyers think more in terms of value and utility.  Is a Sub Zero fridge better than a Wolf?

DMAR, the Denver Metro Association Realtors, now segments listings into four price ranges. They are Classic ($300K to $500K); Premier ($500K to $750K); Signature ($750K to $1 million); and above that, Luxury.

Ha!  Have you seen a $1 million home in Wash Park or Cherry Creek?  Is that anyone’s idea of luxury?

Here’s one that closed last week at $1,000,500.  It’s a block from the northwest corner of Washington Park.

I mean, it’s a nice place.  But are these homeowners living in luxury?

Okay, maybe it’s just time for some shifting of DMAR’S brackets.  Simple as that.  In service to a useful segmenting of the market, I concede, references to luxury are acceptable.  Yes, we do need labels.

I sometimes attend services at a non-denominational Christian church. When the preferred preacher shows up (there are two) he usually delivers a thoughtful, inspirational sermon.  I appreciate that, and I like being around optimistic people on a joyous Sunday morning.

What I don’t like is the music.  In fact, I always arrive 20 minutes late, carefully timed to avoid a deafening blast of eight or nine righteous Christian rockstars, with the often-inane lyrics projected up on a big screen.

I attended recently, arriving on time for once, to make a mental note of lyrics from actual hymns.  There was this one, directly addressing the Almighty.

You deserve the glory
You are worthy of it all
You are worthy of it all

When I hear that sort of thing, my mind wanders. I imagine God himself, sneering down from the Heavens.

“These idiots.”  He is shaking his head. “I’m WORTHY?  Hey I’m God for chrissake.”

It is pandering at its worst.

I think of The Godfather, where Don Corleone slaps the face of his godson, singer Johnny Fontane, in response to his pathetic whimpering.

“I don’t know what to do,” says singer.

“You can act like a man!” says Marlon Brando.  Whack!

Then I think of all that pandering ad copy in the MLS, trying to assure wealthy home buyers that they are worthy of living in great comfort and luxury.

My own listing descriptions tend to be “just the facts,” assuming the reader is intelligent and rapidly flipping through lots of listings.  But I do get adventurous occasionally.  One time I said, “No man can serve two masters. But here, two masters will serve you!”

The seller was mystified, but we went with it.

I haven’t listed any extreme high-end homes.  Not yet.  Wealthy folks should interview me for the job. But I will not suck up to you in person, or to potential buyers in print.  No references to timeless luxury, al fresco dining, or en suite bathrooms.  Just the facts.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors
Almost Daily Blog
Scroll to Top