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!
The translation on the 'Marketing Speak' is hilarious.
Would love to include, 'Will Not Last'. Translation – we'll be seeing this on the market for months to come. Also, 'Low Maintenance Yard' in California means little or no yard and it's a concrete jungle.
Kristal Kraft says
You can tell you've been in real estate too long when you start to think in acronyms. I for one enjoy screaming, "Where's my GDO?" I feel like I'm cursing when all I'm asking for is my garage door opener.
Simple satisfaction, in code. 🙂
The translations are priceless, do you mind if I write an article about them in my directory Jay ?
Dru Bloomfield says
And here in Arizona, we have SPDS (usually pronounced "spuds"), which always raises questions and is showing up in property descriptions more often. I'm continually reminding myself to call it by it's true name, Seller's Property Disclosure Statement.
Your Marketing Speak list will be a fun one to watch grow.
Shan in Austin says
This was a great posting, Jay! Your translations made me laugh out loud a couple of times. How about adding "Great Investment Home," which translates to "This is not a home you will actually want to live in" or "You better be ready to fix this one up and turn it over as quickly as you can."
Mike May says
Wow, Jay, does "speaking in tongues" mean that most real estate agents are qualified to run for VP?
Seriously, I'm Also Annoyed When I See Listing Descriptions With Every Word In Initial Caps OR WITH DESCRIPTIONS IN ALL CAPS. Sometimes it seems that real estate agents either throw all grammar rules out the window, or worse, never learned them in the first place.
Austin Real Estate B says
“Short sale” = hope you can wait 4 months only to lose out.
Was my favorite. Dealing with banks on short sales comes close to driving me insane.
Marketing Speak – LOL – I'm not sure I'll stop laughing all day –
I'm not an agent so many of these terms (before this needed post) meant nothing more than "what?" to me. I often wonder why so many acronyms are used – it's not the early 90s and home buyers are often doing a lot of their own research; I'd imagine reaching them with terms that they can easily understand would best.
"4/2 MIL, FLR. 2CG. Pvt PT/SW Pool. FP in MBR. WIC all BRs. W/D/R convey" …. wtf? IMHO this is an UV and YBS if you marketed your homes like this – AFAIK this is nearly FUBAR and trying to understand TLAs is a PITA…would you talk with a buyer/seller like this IRL? If so, TPS, and if you don't sell any homes, TSFY and IMO
well I messed up the end of that one…hmmm
Testing Comment Edit says
Just testing the new comment editing feature. If you've subscribed to this posts comments, I apologize for clogging up your email! Jay T.
Edited to add: Cool! Appears to work as advertised
[email protected] Real Est says
Testing KeywordLuv…. stand by for a post explaining all this testing stuff!
*Jays last blog post..Real Estate Secret Decoder Ring</abbr>
Jay - The Phoenix Re says
THANKS for all the GREAT additions to the "Marketing Speak" section!
Jerry Loggins says
Great post! I've always suspected what those terms meant, it's good to see I was right!
*Jerry Logginss last blog post..Another earthquake in China</abbr>
[email protected] Homes says
Your post reminds me of agents and other business professionals who plaster all the disgnations, degrees, etc. all over their business cards. Most people don't have a clue what they are. I just got my AAGG and nobody knows what that is so I won't put it on a card. Oh, what is it? All Around Great Guy!
The Harriman [email protected] says
Very nice, Jay! I was gonna write a similar post, but ya snooze, ya lose… Anyway, there are some other coded descriptors I've seen recently that weren't mentioned, so with your kind permission I'll add them here:
"Must See" = No showings since Hector was a pup…please come by and take a look? Please?
"Not a drive-by" = House is set back 1/2 mile from the road, need a Sherpa to find it.
"As is" = Seller isn't doing a DAMN thing to this house, so don't ask!
"Easy to show" = Good luck trying to reach someone to schedule a showing!
"Contingency" = You thought this was going to be easy, didn't you?
"Vacant" = Owner couldn't WAIT to get out of this house!
"Newer" = Could be a year old, could be 20 years old…who knows?
"Lots of potential" = HGTV turned this baby down. Fifty grand ought to make it livable.
"Aggressively priced" = We can't give this dog away…
"Make an offer" = We have no clue what this house is worth! We're hoping you do!
"Reduced" = We STILL don't know what this house is worth!
"Lowest priced home in town" = No one else knows what it's worth, either! And one of my favorites,
"Charming" = It would take someone versed in Voodoo, Wicca, or Black Magic to sell this place.
And someday I'd love to see some daring agent put this TLA in a listing description: "WTF?!?!" Hey, could be "white tile floor" or "willing to finance"…ya never know! Thanks again for an entertaining post, Jay!
*The Harriman Teams last blog post..Wallingford Condo Owners Stunned by Buyout Plans</abbr>
[email protected] Homes says
"As is" = This home has a cracked foundation or major dry rot but the owners are busted and can't afford to fix it.
"Must see to appreciate" = I suck at taking pictures please drag your clients by
*Jamess last blog post..The Web’s Best WordPress Plug-ins List!</abbr>
Lauren Mitchell ~ To says
My personal favourite these days is the chirpy "No Disappointments!", especially when coupled with the ovepriced listing that has gone through several re-lists and inefficient price reductions. You just know there's a crying jag happening somewhere!
Thanks, Jay, for a fun article.
*Lauren Mitchell ~ Toronto Real Estates last blog post..At The Water Cooler: September 14, 2008</abbr>
[email protected] real e says
>I struggled once with “RTR”.
I thought that was ready to rent.
>Would love to include, ‘Will Not Last’. Translation – we’ll be seeing this on the market for months to come.
I just have to laugh when I see that on a property that is 200+ DOM.
*Neds last blog post..Where Do I Start?</abbr>
Cedar City Real Esta says
This was a great post to read plus the comments were interesting and fun to read. I would add:
Spacious, translation: Who knows, everything has space.
Example: Beautiful spacious home with lots of amenities.
What the heck does that mean?
*Cedar City Real Estates last blog post..Gorgeous new homes</abbr>
[email protected] fort wo says
cute, cozy, adorable… that one made me crack up! We do a lot of re-roofing projects for homeowners trying to get rid of their "cute,cozy,adorable" properties and I'm always amazed at the creative ways they market their property. Very funny!
Cedar City Homes says
I hate when agents say amazing. Then don't say what the hell is so amazing about the home.
[email protected] Names says
Thanks, I though DOM only stands for my neighbor's husband (dirty old man, never thought that it can be days on market, a lot better!
[email protected] for says
Interesting post, especially for foreign readers. I improve my own English skill every day as I read english blogs so I need know more special terms to have an opportunity to understand written things more clearily. Thank you.
**Bert´s last blog post..Fire Pit Design</abbr></abbr>
[email protected] says
Who could have thought that this "4/2 MIL" came up from a mother-in-law plan.. If I've seen it before reading this, I'll think of it as four and a half mile away from something….
[email protected] Real Es says
I recently saw a sign that had a rider saying "Must See Inside" I guess that actually means Please Ignore The Outside!
**Tina´s last blog post..Quickly Find Metro Atlanta Foreclosures and Short Sales</abbr></abbr>
[email protected] says
Great real estate information. This give good iformation to me, thank you.
[email protected] Canister says
It seems as though every industry has this issue – the tech industry is famous for it's acronyms. Good on you for sharing, I agree it is important for consumers to not be afraid to ask if they don't understand. But not everyone is comfortable doing so.
Lol this is a great post for bringing a smile to many faces.
It's another world.
**Mark´s last blog post..The Painterman</abbr></abbr>
The Meaning Of Life says
Heh nice list.
Great information thanks for sharing this with us.In fact the post of this blog is something to learn .
Immediate loans says
There are some interesting terms. The message should be put across.