The Battle of the Superlatives

Dated: March 10 2019

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I'm sure it started out long before I noticed it as a kid.  I'm talking about the battle of the superlatives.

There was a Dairy Queen in Emerson New Jersey when I was a kid. As a treat my parents used to take us there for ice cream. Whenever we came off of the Garden State Parkway from long trips and got onto Kinderkamack Road there were two mansions up the hill to the left.  When I saw those mansions, I knew the Dairy Queen was not too much further ahead on the right.  This was my signal to start my pleading for my Dad to stop the car at the DQ.  Little did I know he always wanted a cone as well and his resistance was just a show for Mom.

One year we took the Country Squire station wagon with a pop up tent trailer, and headed all the way to Disneyland in California.  But after four weeks and thousands of miles, I still spied those landmarks on Kinderkamack road as we got close to home on the return trip.

 Of course we stopped and Dad sent me in to get small four cones. 

When I came back to the car I soberly announced that they didn't have small cones anymore.  In fact the smallest was a large. 


"Yup: large, extra large and jumbo."

Small was gone for ever. 

This morning I was sitting in an Adirondack chair with my feet up on the stones around the now cool fire pit, reading the paper over looking Fort Myers Country Club Golf Course. Squirrels were chasing each other around the old oak tree trunk while a red headed wood pecker systematically worked his way around yet another shady pockmarked trunk looking for his morning meal. Blue jays chirped while pecking at the bright red bird feeder that hung next to the swim spa by the large leafy green lily plants. Just then a slight breeze was all the encouragement a few more leaves needed to loosen themselves from those oak trees and they drifted slowly to my outspread newspaper.  I kind of got lost in the moment, but shook a few leaves from my paper and got to the real estate section. Here in Fort Myers our real estate section is mostly ads. 

This is when my mind went back to the Dairy Queen episode. Starter homes are “Luxury” and go up from there. I get it, these advertisers pay by the column inch, so they must be economical with their words.  But I do think marketing people have overdone the superlatives.  I’m  not alone.

In an article by Real Trends it was noted that enhancing the verbal description  of a property with superlatives did not necessarily elevate the buyers opinion of the product.. In many cases it made them distrust the description. Heck I was 10 years old  and I no longer trusted Dairy Queen!

To those who have been coming up from luxury; luxury may a bathroom with a makeup counter bar, or a kitchen with under counter refrigerators and beer on tap, built in wine coolers and six burner gas stoves; inlayed marble mosaic floors, gold plated faucets, and walk in closets with windows.

Could be called, Opulent, sumptuous, or lavish; but where do we go from here?  More distrust I think.

Instead describing my back yard with simple word “peaceful”, I am better served letting the consumer conclude that my description above was “peaceful”. Instead of saying the floorplan is open, I will be better served if you come to your own conclusion based on a more detailed description. 


I say like to say intelligent design. Not bigger, but better; not more luxurious, but smarter. 

Today’s trend is to smaller, understated luxury. No extra rooms, but those that are built are built with use and design in the forefront. Large closets yes, third bedroom suites no. I expect not to lose high ceilings and large windows; but I expect higher quality storm and sound proof windows; practical use of the space with things like built in safes, smart storage design, efficient kitchen and bath design, and little or no wasted floor space, multi use rooms with built ins:  Energy efficient and "Green".  Proper ventilation for the baths and kitchens, "smart" electrical design with remote controls, sleep modes and temperature stable homes.

In college writing class (Rider University) I remember an exercise where we were admonished to never use an adjective (in particular words like “nice” and “very”) to describe something. Never use one word as a short cut. Let the reader  draw the conclusion from your words.

Difficult advice to follow into real estate….but food for thought just the same.

There are some additional changes coming in real estate and the brokerage business.  Kind of Blockbuster to Netfilx kind of changes  or Sears to Amazon kind of changes.  ( Better than using the words "large changes", huh?)  The technological evolution is an iceberg that is gaining momentum.  Stay tuned to this column as I will have some announcements in the next few weeks.

I'll be at an open house today here from 1-4, I'd love it if you stop by to chat.

I also added this new listing near health park at $218,000

And lowered the price on these two:

Fort Myers Beach

Palmetto Cove


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Gregg Fous

Real estate has been my passion since I took my first Al Lowery class on real estate investing in the 1970’s. I vowed during that class that I would buy one property a year. Over the next five ....

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