decoding real estate listings: a helpful glossary

If you’ve ever spent any time house-hunting, you’ve probably noticed that real estate listings have a certain lingo of their own. Often, this involves descriptions of properties that have been somewhat embellished to make even flaws quirky characteristics sound like selling points. Some of these euphemisms have become standardized, such as the “handyman’s special,” a term for a home that is falling apart in every imaginable way in minor need of repairs.

In order to help you read between the lines in an MLS listing, I offer to you this helpful example and glossary.

Example: a typical MLS listing

Charming and cozy 2 bedroom house. Enjoy summer breezes in this lovingly decorated perfect starter home, with sunny, low-maintenance yard. Modern kitchen, 1 and a half baths, partially finished basement. Homey, and ready to move in!
Location features:
• easy access to freeway
• excellent cell phone reception
• close to amenities
• friendly, mature neighborhood

Glossary of Terms:
charming: run-down
cozy: cramped
summer breezes: house is drafty, may have windows missing or holes in roof
lovingly decorated: all the carpets are magenta, and there is loud wallpaper in every room
perfect starter home: you’ll want to move out as soon as you can afford better
sunny: no trees or shade of any kind
low-maintenance yard: lawn is paved over
modern kitchen: kitchen done in the Modern style, circa 1960
1 and a half baths: the second bathroom has partially-installed fixtures, or there may be a toilet in the basement
partially finished basement: basement features water-stained shag carpet
homey: house has funky smells, possible from cat urine
Ready to move in!: home has been abandoned
easy access to freeway: next to an on-ramp
excellent cell phone reception: under a cell phone tower
close to amenities: across from a liquor and/or convenience store
friendly, mature neighborhood: may be near a strip club or adult bookstore

I hope that this information will be helpful to you in your house-hunting endeavors. If you have more terms to add to the glossary, I welcome your contributions!

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This week’s Monday Mission, which I’ve chosen to accept in a roundabout way, was to write a post in the style of a real estate listing. For more listings, stop by Painted Maypole.

Thanks to maja for teaching me “low-maintenance yard” and “easy freeway access,” terms that she may have actually seen in use.