12 April 2011

A real estate translation guide

Besides critiquing whatever properties - for good or bad - catch our eye, one of our favourite past-times here at MYL is to flick through real estate magazines and have a right old laugh at some of the shonky claims and horrendous writing. In the spirit of this, here is my guide to what the blurbs really mean, because if we know one thing about real estate agents, it's that they are full of shit and often are paid to hock off houses that they think are a total load of shit.

What they say: "Under instructions from state trustees."
What they actually mean: Somebody died here. The curtains, wallpaper, and carpet date from about the same year as Cliff Richard and are even more undesirable. James May probably has a shirt that looks like this house's interior, but unlike James May, the house can't quite get away with it any more.

Bet when 39 Barry St comes up for sale, it'll be a "renovator's delight"!
What they say: "Exciting options to renovate", "renovator's delight", "so much potential", or any variation upon this theme.
What they actually mean: It's shit. It's so shit that the agent can't even think of an admirable quality to highlight.


What they say: "Continuously owned by the same family since [any decade prior to the Cold War]."
What they actually mean: We're sorry about the hideous carpet and all the wares and keepsakes and generic knick-knacks that will undoubtedly catch your eye during the open home.

What they say: "In a league of its own", "something different", and "a rare opportunity".
What they actually mean: Just like everywhere else. We're pretending it's unique so that you'll be interested.

What they say: "Feature wall."
What they actually mean: We're trying to re-cast the most architecturally abhorrent aspect of this place as something somehow desirable and exclusive.


123 Dawson St is a "foot in the door" to Brunswick. The wrong foot.
What they say: "A foot in the door", "for first-home buyers", "a great start", or any variation on the buying-your-first-home theme.
What they actually mean: It's small, cramped, and dark, but it'll do until you have children.

What they say: "Student accommodation", "close to [university]", or any variation on the moving-out-of-home-for-uni rental theme.
What they actually mean: It's small, cramped, and dark, but it'll do until you have a girlfriend. At least you can stagger home from the uni pub without adding insult to singledom by having to shell out for a taxi fare.

What they say: "Occupy or invest!"
What they actually mean: You don't actually want to live here, but you can rent it out for more than it's actually worth due to its location. So make a killing off some poor desperate sod. Psst, rent it through us, we'd like the fee.

Wait until you see inside! Yeah, about that ...
What they say: "Wait until you see inside!"
What they actually mean: We're so, so sorry about the external shot. At least when you live in it, you don't have to look at it.
(Oddly, the latest use I saw for this, in the Moreland Leader's property lift-out, was by Brad Teal Real Estate for 3/6 Bristol Road, Pascoe Vale, which looks like a perfectly ordinary and acceptable townhouse from the photo rather than something that needs to be apologised for.)

What they say: "A host of period features."
What they actually mean: The fittings are about as energy inefficient as you can get and break often. But at least you can enjoy all the charms of listening to the chain-flush toilet gurgle for ten minutes after your partner went to the loo in the middle of the night.

What they say... er, don't show: An exterior picture, especially not one from the front
What they actually mean: This place is so fucking ugly that if they included a picture, nobody would even bother to express any interest or inspect it.

What they say: "Lots of land", "good sized allotment", or any variation on theme that the place sits on a well-sized property.
What they actually mean, v1.0: We're trying to deflect your attention from the mundane house itself. Your children just need a place to run around and you can't afford nicer; childhood nostalgia means the place will remain more attractive in their minds than it actually is anyway.
What they actually mean, v2.0: Please sub-divide and commission us to sell it, please? Please?

What they say: "A pleasure to inspect."
What they actually mean: Nobody came the first time. That was hard to explain to the seller given how much they're paying us.

Here is your "well established unit block". Also "cosy".
What they say: "Well established unit block."
What they actually mean: Old, dingy, hasn't had maintenance for years.


What they say: "Cosy", "neat", or in one recent variation we saw, "neat, petite, and very sweet".
What they actually mean: TINY. If you lie down, you can touch all four walls.

What they say: "Larger than most" with reference to an apartment.
What they actually mean: Shoebox apartment in shitty fifties brick lowrise that just so happens to have enough room to fit a three-seater couch.

What they say: "Serious seller strongly encourages all offers", "owner says SELL!", and similar.
What they actually mean: They're desperate. So desperate. And a bit naive. Your chance to take advantage of a sucker; we are!

While we're on the topic of shitty real estate write-ups, I saw this gem by Aaron Hill of Brad Teal Real Estate (again) in the Moreland Leader's property lift-out, re: 1/39 Danin Street, Pascoe Vale: "Near CityLink, public transport, parks and schools, it comes with floorboards, heating and cooling." It comes with floorboards?! Fuck me, nowhere has that! What a catch. I'm used to just walking around on the dirt at my place.

By the way, real estate agents, quotation marks should not fucking be used for emphasis! It just makes me think you're being sarcastic or lying. "Brand new"? It's quite old. "Stylish"? Pretty unappealling. "Fantastic opportunity"? You'll lose money. So on and so forth. Unless you are actually printing a direct quote, don't use quotation marks! Beyond all the other awkward wording, poor grammar, your/you're confusion, and the like, this is what infuriates me the most about the abuse of English by the property press.

Now, what about everybody else? What shitty write-ups and cliches have you encountered in real estate listings? Feel free to leave a comment in our well established comment field - it's something different.

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