What Real Estate Listings Are Really Saying

Looking for a new apartment or house can be tremendously fun. If you’re moving for a partner or for a new job, it can be exciting to think about the new possibilities and what you want to do in the new place.

It also has the potential to be one of the most dismaying experiences ever. Why? Real estate listings are notorious for a kind of “realtor speak,” where the descriptions don’t necessarily match reality. 

If you see a house built in 1916 described as a “vintage gem,” you might have a grand staircase or a turreted room come to mind. You’ll be set up for bitter disappointment when you realize that “vintage” in real estate speak means “old” — without any connotations of “charming” or “original.”
When you
do hit a real vintage charmer, you’ll realize how truly lucky you are.

Here’s my list of “real estate speak” and what it means, decoded.

Real estate speak says:

Cozy one bedroom

Decoded:

This will too small for both a bed and a dresser.

Real estate speak says:

Convenient to downtown

Decoded:

It’s probably right in the middle of the retail or business area and possibly dangerous, or dangerous at night.

Real estate speak says:

Converted two bedroom

Decoded:

In other words, it’s a studio or one bedroom. The “conversion” is a screen separating two halves of a studio or one bedroom.

Real estate speak says:

Natural light

Decoded:

No privacy or no trees, or both

Real estate speak says:

Great for students

Decoded:

It’s extra teeny small — sort of like steerage. But, usually affordable.

Real estate speak says:

Updated

Decoded:

It was probably given a fresh coat of paint and new keys were made.

Real estate speak says:

Galley kitchen

Decoded:

There’s a hot plate in the hall or other space, and it’s not really full of kitchen amenities like a full refrigerator and stove.

Real estate speak says:

L-shaped apartment

Decoded:

Expect one long area — not hall — with rooms branching off. If there is more than one bedroom, you may have to walk through it to get to the bathroom, kitchen, living room or all three.

Real estate speak says:

Spacious

Decoded:

Expect the regular size in a buyer’s market.

Real estate speak says:

Period charm

Decoded:

Expect something really old. And the house probably has out-of-date materials such as lead paint or asbestos.

Real estate speak says:

Home office possible

Decoded:

You can add a home office in the closet or the corner of living room. Minimalism is in, right?

city-road-street-buildings

Real estate speak says:

15 minutes from downtown

Decoded:

As the crow flies, always. You’re not a crow. This does not take into account real commute times, bus/train schedules or traffic.

Real estate speak says:

Easy access

Decoded:

This probably means that the house, condo, or apartment was built right next to a freeway or highway. Which means, possibly overlooking and hearing the traffic.

Real estate speak says:

Fixer-upper

Decoded:

There may be a hole in the floor, roof or wall — possibly all three.

Real estate speak says:

Priced to sell

Decoded:

The house is a dreadful mess. Something is seriously wrong with it or with the seller’s finances.

Real estate speak says:

Motivated seller

Decoded:

The seller may be in trouble with financing or be in foreclosure.

Real estate speak says:

Emerging arts district

Decoded:

It’s not in an arts district. It’s in a rough area that is adjacent to a real arts district.

Real estate speak says:

South facing windows

Decoded:

Do not expect to have a view of anything other than the next building.

old-kitchen-outdated

Real estate speak says:

Upgraded kitchen

Decoded:

You will probably find new cabinet handles (if you’re lucky).

Real estate speak says:

Steps away from downtown

Decoded:

It could be several miles away. Ten miles can be measured in steps, after all!

Real estate speak says:

Very convenient to shopping

Decoded:

Yes, convenient if you have a car and can drive five miles.

Real estate speak says:

Move-in ready condition

Decoded:

This simply means no one is living there at present.

Real estate speak says:

Needs TLC

Decoded:

Everything needs to be remodeled, including the wiring and the plumbing.

Real estate speak says:

Water view

Decoded:

You can see a postage-stamp sized view of water if you’re on a ladder looking from one window.

Real estate speak says:

Retro décor

Decoded:

The original décor from the 1950s-1960s has never been updated.

Real estate speak says:

Newer furnace and air conditioning

Decoded:

They’ve been replaced since the original, but they’re still several decades old.

water-river

Real estate speak says:

Walk to ocean/river/park

Decoded:

Expect to walk several miles. It may also be miles from anything else.

Real estate speak says:

As-is

Decoded:

Nothing has been cleaned nor repaired.

Real estate speak says:

Very bright and sunny

Decoded:

There are no trees in the yard.

Real estate speak says:

Lots of potential

Decoded:

Don’t expect any charm or attractiveness now.  

Real estate speak says:

Cute!

Decoded:

It’s very small, although not as small as cozy.

Real estate speak says:

Quaint

Decoded:

Expect old and wood.

Real estate speak says:

Original plaster

Decoded:

This does not mean it’s in good condition.

As you can see, some of these are euphemisms, such as “cozy” and “cute” for small. Some carry an implicit, if not explicit, warning, such as “TLC,” “as-is” and “motivated seller.” One way or another, carry this decoded list with you when you browse through real estate listings — and keep looking! You’ll eventually find what you’re looking for.  

Newsletter Blog Sign Up

Summary
What Real Estate Listings Are Really Saying
Article Name
What Real Estate Listings Are Really Saying
Description
Are all real estate listings just "fluff"? Click here to brush up on your real estate listing lingo, so you won't be disappointed at a misdescribed house!
Author
Publisher Name
Your Wild Home
Publisher Logo

The following two tabs change content below.

Megan

Editor at Your Wild Home
Hey! I'm Megan. I am a dog-lover and enjoy exploring the outdoors. Your Wild Home covers a lot of topics, including (but not limited to) home improvement, home decor, construction, real estate, and sustainability. I enjoy writing in third-person and I am addicted to chocolate, coffee, and terrible puns. Learn more on my About Me page!

Leave a Comment

There are no comments yet. Be the first to comment.