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Common Marketing Terms Agents Use in Home Listings and What They REALLY Mean

The real estate language used in property descriptions can be downright confusing! If you find yourself trying to understand a home's flowery description only to end up more lost than when you started, you've come to the right place. Let's see if we can help you unravel the mystery of what these descriptions really mean in "Agent speak."

common realtor listing terminology

Common Listing Terminology


Location, location, location — While in theory, this should mean the home is in a highly sought-after area, it is completely relative. For example, the location is perfect for a buyer who wants rural living or to be in the heart of a busy city.

All about the views — That is, the views from the OUTSIDE of the house. This language might mean there is nothing exciting (if not even some issues) with the inside of the home so the hope is that you will focus on the exterior.

Partial or peek-a-boo views — In reality, there probably isn't much of a view at all and if there is you will be hard-pressed to see it. It's likely a sliver of a view from a specific angle.


Comfy — Sounds nice and inviting but it's probably not what you want from a home as it likely means it has seen better days or is another way to say it's cozy or small.

Intimate — It's just a nice way of saying "very small".

Generously sized rooms — It's very likely the rooms are an average size.

Cozy / Charming / Quaint — Just another way of saying you would expect Barbie and Ken to live there, aka "small".

Lives large — Based strictly on actual square footage, you will be pleasantly surprised once you physically visit the home as it feels much larger than it is.


Old world charm — Let's face it, this really just means "old".

Original details — This is a toss-up description since it could mean some awesome, detailed features or on the flip side, a baby pink bathtub (and not your Instagram influencer's tub).

common realtor listing terminology - original details

Vintage — Unless it's a true vintage style home (if so, awesome!) this language probably just means old or outdated. Most likely, the home is a time capsule for decor or materials from a different decade.


Pride of ownership — The owner has meticulously kept up with the house from the spotless carpet indoors to the freshly mulched landscaping outside.

Lovingly maintained — Has had the same homeowner for a long time and although clean and maintained, it likely needs some updates.

Low maintenance — While you won't have to worry about much yard work there probably isn't much of a yard to consider at all.

Move-in ready — Everything is in tip-top shape and you won't have to do a thing before moving in. Hooray!

Hidden gem/hidden potential — It has great potential for the right (qualified) buyer, which could be an investor.

Lots of potential or great bones — In other words, it most likely needs a total renovation.

common realtor listing terminology / great bones / handyman special

Handyman special or TLC — Get ready for LOTS of work. Unless you're more than handy with a hammer, you will need a contractor to make it worthy to sell or live in. A home inspection may reveal some surprises.

Investor special — Think of a home in really bad shape and it's probably even worse than that. Chances are you'll need a special loan or cash to even purchase it. It might even be a foreclosure or short sale.

Fanciful — Get ready for some strange or "out there" kind of eccentric features or decor choices.

Transports you — Likely to somewhere you don't want to go. Be careful when this word is used. 😉


Up-and-coming neighborhood — While this may be true, it's likely going to take quite a long time to get there. In the meantime, you might be looking at lots of empty lots around you.

Vibrant neighborhood — Vibrant with what exactly? This vague term can mean many things from a busy street to a loud public pool next door or even a noisy nightclub. Do your homework on what is being conveyed with this term.

Room to roam — Typically noted when a home expected to have a small yard (city, neighborhood, etc.) offers a larger than normal outdoor space. Also, it's used to describe large acreage and farm properties.

Secluded — Be prepared that the home is miles from another house so don't expect to run next door to borrow a cup of sugar.

Developing neighborhood — How do you like waking up to the sound of construction? This means the home is one of the first to be built in a newer neighborhood and you should expect overall development of the area for some time.

common realtor listing terminology - developing neighborhood

Listing Terms

Bring offers / Offers Wanted / Motivated Seller — This is good for buyers because it means the seller is likely in a hurry to sell or the home may have been on the market for a while. When this is the case, there is often a good chance the owner is willing to negotiate.

Priced to sell — Typically a sign that the home has been priced at the lowest amount the owner is willing to take. While not always the case, there is a good chance there will be little room for negotiation with the seller.

Sold as is — Meaning that the owner does not want to negotiate price no matter what is found during an inspection. This doesn't always mean that anything is wrong with the home (although it's likely the owner may have a gut feeling about something) but instead, the owner is setting an expectation regardless of the outcome. These are usually homes bought with cash and may not qualify for conventional mortgages.

Serious buyers only — Aka no "lookie-loos". The seller is letting everyone involved know that they only want those that are serious about buying the home to take a tour.

Back on the market — Yay! Your top pick is available again! It's a good idea to pump the brakes and first find out why exactly the previous sale failed. Was it an issue with the buyer or possibly a deep-rooted issue with the home?

Tenant occupied / Excuse the mess / 24-hour notice to show — You might have a hard time getting a showing and once you do expect that the house will look VERY lived in.

As you can see things aren't always as straightforward as they may appear in property listings. The marketing terminology Agents use sometimes can make a home sound more enticing so it will draw interest from prospective buyers. Keep in mind that most listing descriptions are written to highlight the "pros" of a property rather than the "cons".

Now that you're armed with some of the inside tips to deciphering property descriptions you can confidently decide if a property is worth pursuing. Happy house hunting!

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