The Keyword That Could Make a Difference in Your Rental Ads

by | Jul 8, 2013 | Rental Property Management Tips

An eye-opening study on metaphors could affect your wallet in ways that might surprise you.

Every one of us is affected by the power of metaphors, whether we realize it or not. For instance, phrases using the word “up” are associated with being in a good mood, while “down” is more negative. The word “north”, likewise, is often tenant screeningassociated with “up”.

Recently, four researchers took this hypothesis to the next level by investigating how the terms “north” and “south” might affect housing preferences. Their report exposes some subtle, yet intriguing results.

The researchers conducted four studies, where participants decided where they might be interested in living within a hypothetical city. The participants were presented with a variety of options that included northern and southern areas of the city. They were also presented with options for eastern and western areas of the city.

The results of all four studies showed northern areas of the purely make-believe city were significantly more desirable for the participants than the southern areas.

Participants went on to say that they considered northern areas to be more affluent than their southern counterparts, even though the city was entirely fictional.

Other facets of the study appear to suggest that the mere word “north” elicits a more positive response.

But how does this study, and the metaphors we use in our daily lives, affect you as a landlord?

Regardless of what your personal opinion may be, it may be smart to consider the implications of this study and try to leverage the preference when describing a rental property.

If your rentals are already located in the northern section of your city, it may be to your distinct advantage to make this known in your rental ads and property descriptions.

But if your properties are located in the southern sections of town, don’t despair. You can still take advantage of this subtle, yet distinctive preference.

Remember that the term “north” is relative. So rather than highlighting “south-facing windows”, play around with tenant-focused terms like “just a few blocks north of Northern Heights elementary school”– or an equally pleasing-sounding location near you.

The study, “Spatial Metaphor and Real Estate: North-South Location Biases Housing Preferences” was conducted by Brian P. Meier, Ph.D, an associate professor of psychology at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA, Arlen C. Moller, a research assistant professor in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL, Julie J. Chen, an assistant professor of psychology at Gettysburg College, and Miles Riemer-Peltz, a Gettysburg College graduate and research assistant at the Criminal Justice Agency in New York, NY.

This post is provided by Tenant Verification Service, Inc., helping landlords reduce the risks of renting with fraud prevention tools that include Tenant Screening, Tenant Background Checks, (U.S. and Canada), as well as Criminal Background Checks, and Eviction Reports (U.S. only).

Click Here to Receive Landlord Credit Reports.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.

Property management software for Canadian Condos.

Property Boss

Property management software for single family, multifamily, and student housing.


Screening services for property managers and landlords. Select a market below.