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Tips for Realtors on Using Inclusive Language for Success in Sales

October 9, 2020

Developing your relationships with clients is key in how to be successful in real estate sales. You want to ensure that clients are comfortable through the process and feel good working with you. This is how you turn a first-time client into a lifetime one.

Using inclusive language is part of improving your client’s experience. This subject is more important than ever as issues related to discrimination against certain groups, races, religions, etcetera, are at the forefront of people’s minds.

Inclusive language is also crucial as your clientele becomes more diverse. The language you commonly use may be improper when meeting with new immigrant clients from particular countries, for example. Additionally, the family structures are more diverse than ever, with same-sex marriages, common-law partnerships and other lifestyle arrangements.

This article discusses what inclusive language is and how you can implement it into your client experience. We provide actionable realtor tips that you can easily use in your next listing or showing.

Inclusive language generally avoids slang or expressions that discriminate against a particular group based on race, gender, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics. In our everyday language, we may unintentionally use inappropriate language. It’s usually built into how we speak and what we’re used to.

A typical example of it is the use of “guys.” Many of us don’t think twice when referring to a group of people, regardless of gender, with “hey guys”, but some may feel excluded since “guys” usually refers to males.

Referring to individuals with the pronoun “they,” as opposed to his/her, is also an essential part of inclusive language. People may have a gender identity (an individual’s personal sense of their gender) that differs from how they look or from the gender they were assigned from birth. So, it may create an uncomfortable moment if you refer to someone as “he” when the person identifies as a “she”. “They” provide a gender-neutral alternative that’s generally a safe bet to use.

How Successful Real Estate Agents Can Implement Inclusive Language into Their Sales Process

Gender terms

Gendered terms run rampant when we give clients tours of homes. “His and her closets”, “His and her vanities”, and “man cave” are common phrases we use to describe a part of a home. Terms such as “bachelor pad” and “man cave” can exclude women or individuals who don’t identify with either gender. These male-centric terms in your listings or showings may discourage the interest of some leads from the property.

Eliminating honorifics, such as Mr. or Mrs., can also prevent uncomfortable moments in case you use the wrong one. When communicating with a client or preparing papers with a lawyer, using a person’s first name can be more inclusive and personal. Throughout your communication, you should also aim to avoid gendered pronouns and simply use “they”. Even something such as “Dear Sir or Madam” may not be ideal, as some individuals don’t identify with a single or either gender. Instead, “To whom it may concern” is a gender-neutral alternative.

If you’re unsure of what gender someone identifies with, it’s an awkward question to ask. Although you may mean well, it could make the other person uncomfortable. An alternative to directly asking someone their gender is introducing yourself with your pronouns. For example, “Hi, I’m Alex. I go by His/Him”. This is an invitation for clients to introduce themselves with their pronouns.

Family terms

According to the 2016 Canadian census, there were 72,880 same-sex couples in Canada, accounting for 0.9% of the couple population. This number was up 60.7% from 2006 and is likely higher now. So, referring to “his and her” excludes many couples who may be looking for homes. Instead, it’s more inclusive to simply refer to spaces as “dual closets” or “dual vanities”. This is important for both showings and home listings.

The 2016 Census also found that just over one-fifth of Canadian couples were in common-law partnerships. Referring to the property as “perfect for newlyweds” or as ideal to “start a family” may exclude this large population of Canadians in common-law partnerships or those with no plans to have children.

As a realtor, you may need to ask a client about their personal relationships to identify their property needs. Referring to someone’s significant other as their “partner” can ensure you don’t make someone cringe when you ask if they have a boyfriend when they’re interested in women. Avoiding the terms “wife” or “husband” is also important for common-law partners who don’t think of their partner as a husband/wife.

Inclusive Language for New Canadians

21% of Canadian home purchases are by immigrants, and immigrants may purchase over 680,000 homes over the next five years if current migration levels remain. Catering to immigrants is important in how to be successful in real estate sales. By using language that’s inclusive towards people less familiar with Canadian culture, you can better your client’s experience.

Idioms and phrases such as “a piece of cake” and “the grass is greener on the other side” are only familiar to people who have lived in North America for an extended period. If someone recently came to the country, these phrases may confuse them even with a fluent English ability. Avoiding this sort of language can ensure that your clients understand everything you say and that you won’t confuse them by mentioning that a property is “good as gold”.

Inclusive language is an essential part of how realtors can be successful at sales. It provides clients with a more comfortable environment, and this comfort can result in a higher likelihood of closing a deal. We hope this article has brought you some new-found realtor tips!

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