Decoding real estate jargon

While I hate to admit it (as a newly licensed real estate salesperson) real estate ads are littered with code. Here’s a few choice phrases you may come across in your next home hunt.



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In our February 2012 issue of MoneySense we highlighted a few of the real estate jargon that’s used to describe homes. From handyman specials to condo alternative, these phrases are often code for less than desirable home attributes.

Thankfully, real estate jargon isn’t limited to just a handful. On a blog post from, I found a long list of adspeak that’s sure to prompt a chuckle for all us homebuyers—more than a few times we’ve stumbled across a home with a “large family room,” a “newly remodeled kitchen,” or a “partial lake/mountain view.”

Here’s a few of my favourites:

  • Tudor: The house has two attic-style bedrooms, which are not insulated properly. This means you’ll be sleeping in a sauna in the summer, and a freezer in the winter.
  • Sunny corner lot: The house is located on an intersection—probably a busy intersection which is why they’re trying to turn your attention to the sky.
  • Easy highway access: Sure it’s easy, considering the street is the equivalent of an arterial route to the highway.
  • Large family room: Large, open basement that only makes sense if you stick a few couches and a TV down there.
  • Lots of storage space: The basement is just too small to be considered living space.
  • Newly remodeled kitchen: The 50-year old cabinetry and faucets were finally ripped out and replaced with cheaper Depot or Ikea equivalents.
  • Partial lake/mountain view: If you climb up to the roof, you can just get a glimpse.
  • Storybook charm: The house is old, small and doesn’t have a flat roof.
  • Cozy bedrooms: Not a single room could fit a full size queen, never mind a king bed!
  • Must see inside: Means the outside is more than ugly.

6 comments on “Decoding real estate jargon

  1. I hope this is a joke. You are making some pretty big ASSumptions here.

    Lots of storage space: The basement is just too small to be considered living space. – This could also be lots of closets and maybe a big pantry?

    All your examples make huge assumptions that aren't necessarily the industry standard. There is always a bad apple in any industry that is going try to deceive people but i don't think it's fair to paint everyone with the same brush.

    BTW I am not a realtor but have purchased several houses in my life and own currently own more than one.


    • You’re an idiot, with no sense of humour. This jargon is littered everywhere in real estate marketing and those of us who want the plain truth, have difficulty finding it. Also, us readers could really care less how many homes you own! If you are that insecure about yourself, perhaps a large mirror with the monkor “You Rock” on the top, would help with that.


  2. What a waste of my time. This article I would expect on some local realtor's blog, not worthy of being published here. No meaningful content, no real helpful information, just worthless ramble from someone who admits herself really isn't qualified. "Newly licensed" = No experience to support the commentary. Any chance MoneySense could get a qualified person to write something meaningful??


  3. What gets me is the way square footage is determined. For example, some realtors believe that an unheated addition (i.e. solarium, etc) should be added while others don't. MLS verbage will say something like 1500 sq ft of living space and what it fails to mention is the living space is actually 750 sq ft on the main floor and 750 sq ft in the basement.


  4. LOL – this was a funny article to read! Thanks for the laughs!!


  5. Out of the box, fast-paced work place,detail-oriented, "self-starter," or team player — Be truthful. Have you ever seen a job wanted ad that didn't use at least one of these key phrases? A recent article in Fortune magazine attempted to take the secret out of these oft-used phrases by offering somewhat negative translations. According to Fortune, job-seekers, armed with this codex of terms, will be much better prepared in their search. Article resource: <a title="Decoding the jargon in help wanted ads" href="">Decoding the jargon in help wanted ads.


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