6 Real Estate Ad Terms to Be Wary Of


Real estate listings are very cleverly written. After all, there’s only so much space allotted for a thorough description of a property, so just the right words need to be used to paint a good picture of the home.

However, it’s important for buyers to be able to understand when listings are highlighting positive features, while downplaying negative aspects. By looking very carefully at how listings are worded and becoming familiar with popular euphemisms, you can successfully interpret these descriptions and make a more informed decision about whether or not a property is worth a look.

Here are 6 real estate terms you should be on the lookout for that could be red flags.

1. “Cozy”

The term “cozy” may instill feelings of a welcoming, inviting environment that is pleasant to hang out in. However, the word is often used in the world of real estate to reference the small size of a home. While tiny homes are becoming increasingly popular among homebuyers, a shortage in square footage may not be right for everyone, including you. If you see the word “cozy” in a listing, don’t be surprised if the home is a tad on the small side.

2. “TLC”

If the term “TLC” pops up in a listing, that directly translates into a property that’s in need of some updating. How much updating remains to be seen, but you could very well be dealing with a home that might need extensive renovations in order to bring it up to par. This might not be what you’re looking for if you want a turn-key, move-in ready home. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a fixer-upper that you can put your personal touch on, or simply want to flip for a profit, “TLC” might be exactly what you’re looking for in a listing description.

3. “Vintage”

The word “vintage” might sound cool, and could realistically signify a home with old-world charm that’s got plenty of value in its antique features. On the other hand, it could simply be a fancy word for “old.” If you’re into homes that still have their original decor from decades ago, great. If not, you will likely be dealing with a home that needs some cosmetic updating, which can get expensive.


4. “Back on the Market”

Why did the home have to go back on the market? While a failed deal could very well have been the fault of the buyer, there’s also a possibility that something is wrong with the home that the buyer didn’t find out until after the deal was still in escrow.

Whatever the case may be, it would be worth doing a little digging to find out if there are any potential issues with the home that could deter you from finalizing a purchase. Look out for major problems that may be hidden by quick-fix repairs, and get a reliable home inspector in to help you pinpoint any hidden issues.

5. “Lots of Character”

A home with “character” may be very attractive to one buyer, but it could also be downright weird to another. A lot of “character” in a home could just be another way of saying “odd,” “quirky,” or “off-the-wall.” If you actually visit the home for a showing, you just might be greeted with orange wall-to-wall shag carpeting, purple velvet wallpaper, or basement ceilings that require you to hunch over in order to fit.

6. “Quiet”

Depending on what you’re looking for, a “quiet” location just might be perfect. But just make sure the location isn’t too far away from civilization for your liking. Most listings tend to come with a map that pinpoints exactly where a home is located. You might be looking for a home that’s not subjected to lots of car traffic or plenty of noisy neighborhood kids, but just make sure you’re ready and willing to live in a home that is miles away from everything, including your next-door neighbor’s. 

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, you’ll need to get a closer look at a home in person in order to accurately gauge what the condition and look it is like. Real estate agents are doing their best to attract potential buyers for their clients, so whipping up a creative listing is one of their first steps in the listing process. Most ads are honest descriptions, but it’s still a good idea to be able to decode some of the most frequently used euphemisms in order to get a better understanding of what you’re dealing with.