An insider’s guide to real estate marketing descriptions

Every home listing has a property description. It is a short paragraph prone to flowery prose and grand descriptions of the home for sale. In our case, we have only 500 characters to convince and entice you to come and see the home, so it is packed full of the top features and describes the potential lifestyle you will lead if you purchase this particular home.

dilapidated houseWe tour hundreds of homes every month and read the marketing description for each one. It became clear to me that sometimes these short descriptions lack the depth and accuracy needed to properly evaluate a home. For those who don’t shop for homes every day, I thought I would provide a handy translation guide to help you interpret property descriptions during your home search.

  1. Greeting the morning sun” = Home gets scorching hot in the summer first thing in the morning.
  2. Gardens and backyard await your inspiration” = We don’t like yard work. The overgrowth and weeds are about to be your problem.
  3. Just awaiting your touches” = The floor plan is a monstrosity, but we’re sure you’ll figure out what to do with it.
  4. This home boasts thoughtful spaces” = I’m not sure, since I didn’t realize that structures were sensitive and able to express their caring feelings. What is the opposite, “This home boasts inconsiderate spaces?”
  5. Perfect to add a 2nd story” = The house is tiny, and we know you would like a bigger house. We’re hoping that you buy it without actually researching how much a 2nd story addition actually costs.
  6. Bold, designer colors” = We picked up some crazy colors of remnant paint from the local paint store at a discount. I’m sure you will like our eclectic tastes.
  7. French doors link master to luxurious deck” = The only way for you and your guests to enjoy your back yard is to traipse through your bedroom.
  8. “Intriguing potential with separate basement entry” = You can’t get to your basement from inside the house. You could try to put an apartment downstairs, but we are pretty darned sure that local zoning laws don’t allow it.
  9. “Huge lot with lots of privacy” = Sure, the house is on a big lot, right on major thoroughfare with loads of traffic. Privacy is assured because nobody will walk by the house with all of those cars whizzing by.
  10. “Up and coming neighborhood” = We hope you don’t mind that some of our neighbors operate automobile scrap yards in their back yard.
  11. “Exercise caution when entering. Do not walk on deck.” = No translation needed. Refreshingly honest.
  12. “Fairy tale cottage” = “My what a small home you have!” (400 sq ft)
  13. “Priced below assessed value” = The home was last assessed in 2005 when it was worth 20% more than it is today, so we’re still overpriced.
  14. Huge yard perfect for gardening” = No gardening has ever taken place in this yard, but you are welcome to give it a try to clean up the mess.
  15. “European flair with ceramic tile” = Last time I checked ceramic tile has been commonplace outside of Europe for many decades.
  16. “See the Space Needle from bedroom” = Exercise your calves while enjoying a panoramic view of the top 5 feet of this famous Seattle landmark.
  17. Lower level includes laundry, 3/4 bath and 1 car garage” = The lower level 3/4 bath is actually inside the garage.
  18. “En-suite powder room in master” = We decided to put a toilet in our bedroom closet.
  19. Investor Alert” = No sheetrock on the walls, no carpet on the floors and no appliances. Bring your checkbook.
  20. Bring your imagination” = Bring your Sawzall.
  21. Consider this a rare opportunity” = We haven’t received an offer in over a year.
  22. Gourmet kitchen” = You are probably a poor cook and gourmet food may never come out of this kitchen, but it does have granite countertops.
  23. “Unspoiled entrance” = I’m not sure about this one, but I do know that I certainly wouldn’t want a home with a spoiled entrance.
  24. “An I-90 corridor position” = The freeway is right in your backyard.
  25. “We’ve kept the home and deck to see the picture postcard view” = The house is unsafe and ready for demolition, but we want the buyer to pay for demolition.
  26. “Olde climbing trees” = Spellings of British and American English words diverged sometime in the 18th century. Get with the times.