Reading a post by Amy Jones (yet another great Phoenix real estate blogger) last night got me to thinking about the language of real estate. Then Mark Eckenrode of HomeStomper and Guerilla Marketing expert, (also from Phoenix) in his maiden voyage at AgentGenius penned this little nugget:
One thing experts tend to do is immerse themselves in the language of their expertise. Problem is, the public doesn’t know the language of “expertise.” And no one likes to feel like the stupid person in a conversation.
We real estate types do indeed seem to sometimes speak in tongues. Here are a few “translations”. . .
If you see these terms in any real estate marketing piece, now you’ll know what they really mean:
- “Cute”, “Cozy” or “Adorable” = small, tiny and cramped.
- “Handyman Special” = better have lots of time, money and an awesome set of tools.
- “The backyard is your canvas” = there’s nothing but dirt back there.
- “Look out over the pristine fairway” = watch golf while you replace broken windows.
- “Easy access to freeways” = hope you enjoy the sound of 18 wheelers at 2am.
- “No HOA!” = the neighbors car has been up on blocks for 4 years.
- “This home is spotless” = no one has lived in it for six months.
- “Retro” = shag carpet, linoleum and lime green appliances included.
- “Motivated sellers” = overpriced and/or foreclosure is looming.
- “Short sale” = hope you can wait 4 months only to lose out.
- “Unique” or “One of a kind” = owner is a creative painter. Think magenta, chartreuse, polka dots”¦
UPDATE: Be sure to read the comments for some great “reader additions”!
TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms)
Ever seen a home description like this?
4/2 MIL, FLR. 2CG. Pvt PT/SW Pool. FP in MBR. WIC all BRs. W/D/R convey
That would be a 4 bedroom, 2 bath “Mother-in-Law” plan (bedrooms on opposite sides of house) with a formal living room. There is a private Pebble-Tech salt water pool. The master bedroom has a fireplace. There are walk-in closets in all bedrooms and the washer, dryer and refrigerator are included in the sale.
Here are a few common TLAs and their English translations (meaning/translation may be different in other areas of the country):
- FLR / FDR = Formal Living/Dining Room
- PVT = Private
- Gate = Gated community
- G/Gate = Guarded, gated community
- AR or 55+ = Age Restricted / 55+ community
- FP = Fireplace
- MBR = Master Bedroom
- HW or HDW = Hardwood floors
- LS = Landscaped
- WIC = Walk-in closet
- HOA = Home Owners Association
- ISD = Independent School District
- H20 Soft = water softener
- CVac or CV = Central Vacuum system (may only be plumbed for CV)
- SF or SqFT = Square Footage
- COE = Close of Escrow
- DOM = Days on Market
Sometimes you will find indecipherable acronyms. I struggled once with “RTR”. I finally asked the listing agent and she said “Red Tile Roof” delivered in a tone like I was an idiot for not knowing.
In addition to clever little space-saving and mind-numbing acronyms, the real estate (and lending!) industry is rife with words many people don’t really understand. There are real estate glossaries out there (we have a real estate glossary on ThompsonsRealty.com), in fact, there are entire books dedicated to real estate terminology (Language of Real Estate is a great one).
As a home buyer or seller, it’s really important to not be afraid to ask your agent for clarification. There are no stupid questions. Often we forget that normal people don’t use the words we do every day. So if you hear a term you don’t understand, don’t be shy. Ask!