Skip to main content

Decoding Real Estate Listings

Marketing language and abbreviations can be confusing when you’re reading a real estate listing. Whether you are selling your home and need to create an attractive listing or are shopping for your next home and need to clarify the language, let’s take a look at some commonly used language for real estate listings.
Cozy or charming: Think small, like a cottage. This can also make readers think that the decor is dated and in need of a refresh.
Contact for photos: If your home is attractive enough to sell, it should be worth some photographs. If there are none in the listing, make sure it’s going to be worth your time to visit in person.
Diamond in the rough: This means the house itself is nice, but you may wish it was in a different neighborhood.
Four-piece bathroom or 4/4 bath: A bathroom that features four plumbing items: usually two sinks, a toilet and a bath tub with shower. It can also be referred to as a “full bath.”
Five-piece bathroom: Similar to a four-piece bathroom mentioned above, but this time with a separate shower and a tub. Sometimes, the second sink is swapped for a bidet.
Fixer-upper/handyman special/TLC: Only use this language if you’re planning to sell “as is” at a discount, and only consider buying a listing like this if you’re prepared to do a lot of work on the home. Plan on making several in-person visits to the home and, of course, have an expert inspect it so you really know what you’re getting into for repairs. Also beware the phrase “investment opportunity” unless you professionally flip houses.
Half bath or powder room: This bathroom will feature only two elements: a toilet and a sink. It’s usually located near a common area like a kitchen, dining room or living room for the convenience of guests. If you see a “.5” in a listing (such as “3.5 baths”), you can assume that one of the bathrooms is a powder room.
Recently updated: If you see this in a listing, expect a fresh coat of paint and perhaps a few new fixtures, but not much more. Everything will be in order, but you will probably want to make your own updates to suit your style.
Starter home: When people read this, they think of a smaller home, usually around 1,000 square feet.
Stunning/gleaming: Potential buyers who see this phrase in a listing will expect to see a cleaned, staged, newly remodeled home with updated features. Only use it if the home you’re selling truly meets these expectations.
Three-quarter bath: A bathroom that features a shower, sink and toilet but not a bathtub.
Unique/one of a kind: These terms imply that there’s something in particular that’s special about the house. If you add this to your listing, specify the extraordinary feature (like a wine cellar or library), but be aware that the feature might not be as valuable to potential buyers as it was to you.
Vintage charm: Older homes can be charming, but might also come with their own set of challenges. Unless the listing also mentions a significant remodel, homes listed this way have a tendency to be older or feature dated fixtures.
The language used in real estate listings is intended to evoke a mental picture of the property. Be sure that your listing presents an honest, accurate description of the property. In addition to your realtor, have a friend or colleague read the listing and provide candid feedback. The listing you craft is your chance to tell what makes the home great and list meaningful details about what sets it apart from everything else on the market. If you’re the one shopping for a home, learning to decode the listings can save you precious time by narrowing down your list of homes to visit.