The world of real estate as we know it revolves around describing properties in a way that attracts buyers.
I spent the first part of my real estate career in urban Florida, and like all agents and buyers, learned to take property marketing descriptions with a few grains of salt.
As real estate agents, it's our job to make every home sound as good as possible, while staying on the right side of the truth. We become experts at accentuating the positive. And inevitably, there are some words and phrases that get overused.
So here's to all of you city and country agents out there, trying to use limited space and adjectives to convey the essence of a property in a way that draws the maximum number of possible buyers. And here's to all you buyers, searching through the listings to find the home of your dreams.
Take a lighthearted moment off from composing and reading those ads, and consider the following truthful descriptions and the less-lovely aspects of a home they sometimes reveal. I bet you could add a few of your own, too!
Here are some well-used advertising phrases from back in Florida, and what I found that they sometimes mean:
- Cosy ==> Too small to turn around.
- Needs someone to make it their own ==> The current owners never heard of Martha Stewart.
- Unique ==> We don't know what the owners were thinking when they did this stuff.
- Mrs. Clean lives here ==> Unfortunately, Mrs. Up-to-Date does not.
- Dynamic neighborhood ==> The neighbors will party late into the night.
- Shows pride of ownership ==> The owners have done all the work themselves, and you can tell.
- Lush landscaping ==> The bougainvillea has covered the roof, and the ficus is bigger than the house.
Now that I'm selling rural real estate as well as city properties here in Southwest Missouri, I've learned a whole new set of interesting phrases that can mean more than meets the eye:
- Rustic ==> Built on a shoestring and appears to be held up by one.
- Private setting ==> You'll go over the river and through the woods, and you still won't be there.
- Old-fashioned ==> There may be a hand pump in the kitchen.
- Live in mobile while you build new ==> Better build fast!
- Firewood-size timber ==> Old clearcut. Current growth too big to brushhog, too small to sell.
- Upland pasture ==> No water, big rocks.
And of course, my favorite:
- Charming farmhouse ==> Rooms randomly added and porches enclosed for necessary shelter, not to create a flowing floorplan. Bathrooms an afterthought, floors wavy.
You know, I'm a firm believer that every property is a winner for the right buyer. Almost any aspect of a property can be accepted or overcome if it's the right place for you.
For instance, upland pasture is an awesome place for goats and great views. Firewood-size timber can keep you warm, and makes wonderful habitat for birds, rabbits, deer and turkey. And to tell the truth, I can still swoon over a charming farmhouse even when it's leaning a good 10 degrees off vertical.
Plus sometimes, you'll find that a flattering description hides nothing, and even falls short of mentioning all of a property's good points.
So don't be worried if you read an ad offering you a charming farmhouse in a private setting, surrounded by firewood-size timber and upland pasture.
It could be a pristinely updated older home, supported by a foundation that will stand for another 100 years, just far enough off the main road to feel special, and surrounded by the loveliest land you've ever seen.
Even if not, just smile and remember...nothing is perfect, but it still may be perfect for you. Hey, you could get lucky, it might even be in a dynamic neighborhood!