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Top 10 real estate listing euphemisms

The truth about “quaint,” “fixer-upper,” “motivated seller” and more.

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The key to keeping an even keel during your house hunt is managing your expectations. Sometimes the difference between a real estate listing and reality can be crushing – the moment when you walk through the door and realize that “cozy yet open concept one-bedroom, just minutes away from transportation and local attractions, perfect for DIY-minded people” is actually a cramped shack with a run-down bathroom in a noisy neighborhood.

But if you become fluent in “listing lingo,” you can avoid the emotional rollercoaster. There are a lot of resources out there to help you crack the code (Realtor.com, Inky Fool and Boston Globe are my favorites). Here are 10 euphemisms commonly found on real estate listings and what they could really mean:

  1. Quaint. Evokes thoughts of reading next to a roaring fire and hosting dinner parties with food made from your own garden. In reality, quaint, cozy and charming could all just mean small, tiny and cramped.
  2. Open plan or open concept. Remember that small studio apartment you rented in college? Remember how open and fluid it was when your bedroom was also your living room, kitchen and closet? Open does not necessarily equal large.
  3. Within walking distance. Anyone could walk anywhere, technically (except to other continents, I guess). Map the actual distance in blocks and miles to local restaurants and grocery stores to see how far you’d actually be walking.
  4. Motivated seller. The seller is a little desperate and willing to be flexible with the price in order to get the house sold.
  5. Close to transportation. This could mean the place is located right next to a bus stop in an adorable neighborhood – or it could mean it’s steps away from the train tracks. Often code for “noisy.”
  6. Unique décor. It’s haunted.
  7. Breathtaking view. In the city especially, this can just mean your window doesn’t literally face a brick wall. Is the abandoned parking lot across the street really a breathtaking view of a park? And is the squirrel trying to eat an old napkin in the middle of it considered wildlife? Don’t get your hopes up here.
  8. Loads of privacy. Who doesn’t want privacy? That’s one of the reasons you’re buying your own home, right? But in a real estate listing, this phrase means you will have so much privacy that you might need to travel pretty far before you see another person.
  9. The fixer-upper’s dream home. Do you want to spend most of your paycheck fixing up your house? (That is, if you even still have a paycheck after spending more time fixing up your home than working.) Then this is the place for you! Synonyms include: “Opportunity for a dream home.”
  10. Up-and-coming neighborhood. Could mean the street just got a new Starbucks and the local farmers’ market has started to thrive in the past year. Or it could just mean you won’t feel too safe walking all the way back from the grocery store that was “within walking distance.”
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    By Maddy Day

    Maddy is the marketing intern at MGIC and like most people her age, has little to no knowledge of what it takes to buy a house. She spends most of her days thinking about how she can fit school, three jobs and contact with other living beings into the same day. She is currently renting from 2 adorable landlords who are only roughly 10 years younger than the 100-year-old house. Maddy’s hobbies include telling her dog about all of the problems in her life–he’s a fantastic listener–finding new recipes to cook with her friends, and hunting down every coffee shop in Milwaukee.

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