Real Estate Jargon and What It Really Means

Buying News Renting
What does all the real estate speak mean?
What does all the real estate speak mean? iStock

Real estate is a tough business, and agents are always looking for ways to make the properties they’re selling sound attractive, even when they’re not. In other words, sometimes they’re in the business of sugarcoating.

Seasoned renters and buyers may know the difference between cozy and cramped, but for first-time house hunters, here are some terms you’re guaranteed to encounter, and what they may allude to.

Cozy: Snug, comfortable, and homey are the dictionary definitions. But in real estate speak, it means tiny and cramped.

Garden-level: A fancy way of saying below ground and could imply a basement. In classic brownstones, the windows are ground-level and overlook a small yard.

Steps from the T: This could mean across the street or a brisk 15-minute walk. It might also mean steps from a more obscure bus that then connects to a stop on the Green Line.

Charming: Could be old. The home might look cool, but we’re talking period detail from the early 1900s. Think repair and renovations.

Starter home: Makes owning a house sounds easy, right? Not really. A starter home is priced for first-time buyers on a limited budget. Standard starter homes are smaller, older, and need a little TLC love.

Lots of potential: Might mean it’ll only reach its full potential with 100 hours of renovation and a heap of cash.

Chef’s kitchen: This usually means the kitchen is a major selling point of the home. But there’s no industry-wide definition of the term, and there’s nothing stopping brokers from advertising a kitchen as such, even if the layout and appliances aren’t so great.

Conveniently located: Sure, a condo or apartment might be near restaurants or a train station. It could also be near a busy intersection, nightclub, or hospital.

In original condition: We’re likely not talking antiques or classic paintings. A house in original condition could mean outdated appliances or building materials and will need significant updating work before move-in.

Unique: Code for hard to sell. If a previous tenant painted the walls hot pink, it’s unique, but chances are low buyers will be impressed. The term’s relative – one person’s ‘unique’ is another person’s ‘blah.’

Motivated seller: The house has been on the market for awhile and the seller is flexible on price.

Must-see inside: “Yeah, we know the outside is pretty unappealing, but the inside is better, we promise!’’

Sold as is: The seller won’t be doing any renovation work, don’t ask.

Good for entertaining: It’s likely the home has an open floor plan, for example a kitchen that flows into the living room.

Spacious: Could be an open floor plan or more square footage. But size is all relative. ‘Spacious’ takes on different meanings in an Allston apartment, versus a Back Bay luxury condo, versus a single family home in the ‘burbs.

Go and see a place before you sign on the dotted line. Surprises are never a good thing when you plan to call a place home.