As a salesperson, you know your words impact the people you speak with. 

And now, there’s new research on words to use—and words to avoid—when talking to investors. 

A new research-based language study measured investors’ emotional response to language associated with real estate investment. Invesco Global Consulting and Maslanksy + Partners studied words and phrases used in relation to real estate investment trusts (REITs). 

What they learned is helpful with more than REITs, but we’ll start there. While many professionals understand the importance of communicating potential benefits to their clients, not all know how to articulate those benefits in words that resonate with investors. 

The report, Building Opportunities: The Compelling Language of Real Estate Investment Trusts, revealed the words and phrases to use more often—and those to leave behind. 

Best words to use when describing REITs

According to Invesco’s research, 60% of investors believe it’s a good time to invest in real estate, but only 46% said they were likely to. That gap is potentially due to investors not understanding the benefits of adding real estate to their portfolios. 

It is important for financial professionals to effectively communicate with their clients the potential benefits of real estate investing so they can understand their investment choices, and the research upheld our longstanding belief that word choice matters when introducing real estate investment trusts (REITs). Although most of the investors surveyed had favorable views on real estate investing, their views shifted depending on how certain concepts were presented.

Paul Brunswick

Head of Invesco Global Consulting

Here are just a few examples of phrases to use and avoid, gathered from the year-long study:

Phrases-to-Use-or-Avoid-table

Plainspoken language rather than buzzwords

As a rule, investor clients prefer straightforward and plainspoken language to vague buzzwords. The same goes for real estate clients. 

For example, words like “hedge against inflation” have been overused to the point where the meaning is hazy at best. Investors in the study had a better emotional response to the phrase, “a source of income that can rise to stay ahead of inflation.”

Those words clarify how a real estate investment can protect the investor from inflation-related losses in asset value. 

How to describe portfolio diversification

Investment professionals know real estate is an asset class with potential diversification benefits. When communicating those benefits to investor clients, though, some words are more persuasive than others. 

In the study, 44% of investors preferred “comprehensive” diversification over “true” diversification (29%) or “enhanced” diversification (27%). Only 16% cited diversification as a priority, suggesting many felt their portfolios were diverse enough. 

Consistency and reliability resonate with investors looking ahead

In the study, 57% of accredited investors preferred “consistent” rental income over “durable” or “alternative” rental income. Investors looking ahead to retirement want to hear that a particular investment will get them closer to their vision for the future. 

A specific type of income stream can be consistent and reliable; both words are also used to describe people. Words like durable or alternative are less personal and create distance between the investor and the asset they’re considering. 

Use the word “portion”

A majority (70%) of investors prefer having a “portion” of their income invested in real estate. Take away the word “portion,” and those same investors may assume you’re suggesting a change to their entire portfolio. 

Never assume an investor knows you mean the word portion when suggesting they allocate some of their investment portfolio to real estate. Use the word to make it clear.  

Clarity is reassuring. And the word “portion” signifies careful control of the amount being allocated, which makes it sound safer.  

Use “more” rather than “less”

The word “more” followed by a positive word evokes a better visceral response than “less” followed by a negative word. 

For example, “more consistent” rental income sounds better than a “less sporadic” income. 

Here are a few other examples to drive the point home: 

  • More reliable vs. less volatile
  • More efficient vs. less inefficient
  • More affordable vs. less expensive

Words matter with real estate clients, too

Clients and prospects also respond to clearer and more positive language. And, as with investors, using jargon and vague descriptions can breed mistrust and misunderstandings. Avoid buzzwords and make your meaning clear. 

Ambiguity and evasive language will only work against your client’s confidence in you.