Dictionary of real estate phrases

It took me a considerable amount of time to learn the true meaning of phrases used in real estate ads. I offer the following dictionary for the benefit of those who search for a house and want to save their precious time.

  • Old charmer - an old and ugly house
  • Stunning house - the house is not ugly
  • Tudor - two bedrooms are in the attic which is not insulated; very hot in summer and very cold in winter
  • Cape Cod - styled after Third World slum dwellings
  • Sunny corner lot - noisy intersection of two busy streets
  • Easy freeway access - noisy arterial street close to freeway
  • Low maintenance lot - no yard; the kids will have to play in the street
  • Meticulously maintained in the original condition - the appliances are 50 years old
  • Ready to remodel - the house is about to collapse; you will have to invest twice the asking price in remodel before you can move in
  • Newly remodeled kitchen - 50-year old cabinetry and faucets have been replaced with cheap modern equivalents
  • Ready to move in - the interior has been painted with one coat of cheap paint
  • Desirable neighborhood - this little house is extravagantly overpriced because the neighborhood has a snobbish reputation
  • 1 car garage - you can drive your Ford Escort into the garage but there is no room to open the door
  • In-city living - it is not safe to walk in this neighborhood after dark
  • Recreation room with wet bar - basement has been painted and has a faucet
  • Large family room - large basement
  • Bedroom in basement - basement has a 1' by 2' window
  • Lots of storage space - basement is too small to be called a family room
  • Partial mountain view - you can see the tip of Mt. Olympus if you climb the roof
  • Territorial view - good view of your neighbor's bedroom window
  • Build sweat equity - the house is not inhabitable
  • Storybook - the house is old and the roof is not flat
  • Efficiently designed kitchen - the kitchen is too small to fit two people at the same time
Thanks to Russell Shilling for the following entries!
  • Seasonal creek - muddy ditch across the property
  • Usable land - all the trees are gone.
  • Doll-house - tiny place filled with ugly knick-knacks.
The following phrases were contributed by Doug Pretorius:
  • Country living - too far from anywhere to drive to work
  • Country in the city - a grotesquely overpriced large lot with a 2 bedroom house built before World War I
  • Cozy - not a single room could fit a full size bed
  • Three season sunroom - a small addition the owner did not have enough money to insulate
  • Close to all amenities - the backyard is a shopping mall parking
The following comes from Florida, via Donald Richards:
  • Beachfront property, complete remodeling in 1996, a steal at this asking price - hurricane Andrew motivated the remodeling; no hurricane insurance available, at any price
Contributed by Chrys Prichard:
  • Must see inside - the outside is ugly
  • Motivated sellers - subtract 15% from the asking price
Pete Rutherford's contribution:
  • Easy to heat - see "cozy"
Mishie's phrases:
  • Wildlife nearby - children and pets get ticks and fleas
  • Near transportation - Amtrak train goes through the backyard, every 15 minutes, day and night
  • Pet friendly neighborhood - organic matter constantly deposited in the front lawn
  • Neighborhood watch - your next door neighbor has binoculars trained on your house
  • Just available - previous owner just died on the premises, hope you don't believe in ghosts
Contributed by Yuval Peres:
  • Waterfront property with boat dock - you will need the boat to leave when the house floods
  • Serene forest setting - a fire is just a matter of time