Top 10 Real Estate Euphemisms

November 20, 2012

By Tasja, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve been paying attention to news updates about the U.S. housing scene or chatting with your local realtor, you’ve probably heard that the real estate market finally seems to be making a rebound from the plunge that began in 2007. With mortgage rates still low, some of you may be wondering if this is the right time to begin the quest for your dream home.

There’s no doubt that an abundant supply of potential sellers have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for an uptick in both demand and prices. And I’m certain that some homeowners took advantage of the last few years to complete deferred maintenance items and well-designed home improvements so that their house would be in prime condition when the market started to heat up again.

Unfortunately, the odds of your actually finding a domicile offered by one of these overachieving, HGTV-obsessed owners are fairly low. So before you fall in love with a property based on the description you see on the marketing flyer or the homes-for-sale website, it might be time to revisit the basics on how to translate real estate descriptions.

In many ways, deciphering the description of property for sale has a lot in common with reading between the lines on a dating site profile or personal ad. Remember that guy or gal who described themselves as a “good conversationalist?” More likely than not, it turned out that you spent an hour in the bar listening to your date talk about themselves non-stop while you were barely be able to get a word in edgewise.

In a similar vein, here are some of the more popular phrases realtors use when trying to accentuate the positive aspects of a house that’s lacking in mass-appeal. Keep in mind that not every house described with these phrases is a loser, but it’s a good idea to investigate further before setting up a “date” to drive across town to view the property.

#1 - Charming, quaint, or unique

This translates to inconvenient or downright bizarre - a property where you have to walk through the bathroom to get to the bedroom. You’ll likely leave your viewing wondering if an architect was involved in the design at any point in the process.

#2 - Cottage or cozy

Basically, this house is too small for your big-screen TV, and the closet is the size of one of those old public telephone booths.

#3 - Easy access to everywhere!

This house backs up to a major freeway. The white noise provided by the traffic just outside your bedroom window is an added feature.

#4 - Efficiency kitchen

That new pedometer you bought will not get a workout in this place, and neither will you. You’ll become a master of twisting, turning, and reaching for culinary tools and ingredients without ever moving your feet.

#5 - Handyman’s special or in need of TLC!

Is your super-sized tool chest one of your most cherished possessions? If you plugged in all of your power devices (saws, drills, nail guns, etc.) at one time, would you trip an electrical breaker? If you answered “no,” to either of these questions, this house is not for you!

#6 - Light and bright

Everything in this house is white --- walls, window coverings, kitchen appliances, and bath fixtures. It looks and feels like a NASA clean room.

#7 - Low-maintenance yard

“Yard,” in this case, might be an overstatement. It may more closely resemble an asphalt parking lot without the white stripes – lots of hardscape. The good news is you won’t be watering or mowing it. The bad news is that if you set up a swing set, your child will encroach into the neighbor’s “yard” with every forward push.

#8 - Original or full of character

The house is not old enough for historic preservation, but is too old for a reasonable utility bill. Benefits can include aesthetic features like high ceilings and crown mouldings.  Disadvantages include primitive plumbing, drafty windows, and fire-waiting-to-happen wiring.

#9 - Retro decor

Close your eyes and flashback to these colors: Avocado Green, Harvest Gold, and Coppertone. Now picture the possibility of seeing these shades not only on your kitchen appliances but on shag carpet throughout the house. Take a couple of Pepto-Bismol tablets if you’re still feeling nauseous after opening your eyes.

#10 - Up-and-coming neighborhood

Area is in the process of transitioning from a zone that’s past its prime to the new urban hot spot for young professionals. The pros include buying a home that has above average potential for appreciation. The cons include the likelihood that neighboring properties and residents may not reassure your parents that they don’t need to worry about your safety. You may receive a German shepherd puppy for Christmas, whether you like dogs or not.

Other articles you may be interested in:
What to Expect After You've Bought Your First Home