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Do you speak real estate?

The remarks section is where agents get to describe their listings – the home they are actively engaged in trying to sell.  Some agents simply give the facts.  Others use their imagination to paint a picture so you can use your imagination to fantasize what it would be like to live there.  While out-and-out lies are unethical, “puffery” is ok — even if the puffery paints an unrealistic impression of the house.  For instance, it’s okay to say a house is “in a quiet neighborhood” or has “a great view” because this is subjective.  But it’s not okay to say a house is the largest on the block if it’s not true.

Many times, agents go too far in either minimizing or overstating the reality.  I recently read about a house with a “stunning” interior.  When I looked at the photos, the bedrooms had laminate floors, $25.00 Home Depot light fixtures, and white kitchen appliances. (There also were a few missing electric plates.)  Nothing wrong with laminate floors or Home Depot light fixtures, but let’s be honest – it’s not “stunning.”  The fact is, you’re unlikely to find a “stunning” house for $60K in any major metropolitan area.

The next time you’re perusing real estate websites, use this key to decipher coded messages.

Phrase                                                                      Interpretation 

Needs some work Major rehab to make it livable
Will only accept cash offers or 203k loans This is a gut job
Value is in the land This is a tear-down; the house needs to be razed
Price improvement Price reduction because it was overpriced in the first place
This one won’t last long Yes, it will
Motivated seller Desperate seller
Hardwood floors Maybe.  Could be anything from vinyl to laminate to engineered wood
Rental potential You wouldn’t want to live there
Improved basement Concrete floor is painted (usually gray)
Newly updated Very plain but functional
Investor alert! Exclamation point means it definitely needs major rehab
Gourmet kitchen Lots of counter space, and that’s it.  Don’t expect SubZero, Wolf, etc.
Adorable (1) Relatively small for the price
Adorable (2) Small and needs some work
Cozy Smaller than adorable
Charming In good condition and somewhat smaller than average
Good bones Needs lots of work, but not a total gut job
Elegant Maybe a chandelier and some crown molding
Newer Appliances or mechanicals less than 5 years old
Striking Some architectural detail

I’m Greg Bridges with Long & Foster Real Estate and I sell and write about real estate in the Baltimore area.  Office 410-889-9800, Mobile 410-215-0565 or



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